INDIANAPOLIS – When Fernando Alonso first announced in April that he’d race in this year’s 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network) it turned a ton of heads around the world.
A current Formula One driver, a world champion at that, is skipping F1’s biggest race and driving in IndyCar’s biggest race.
Now that we have reached race week here in Indy, I don’t think any of us could have scripted a much better month for the Spaniard.
Alonso, has been up front in nearly every practice session this month. If not for a suspension issue on the first session on Monday, he likely would have turned a fast lap with his teammates. Instead, he was 24th. On Wednesday, Thursday and again on Fast Friday, he was fourth quickest overall in all three sessions.
In qualifying practice this past weekend, he was fifth.
In qualifying on Saturday, he was seventh. Then, in qualifying for his starting spot on Sunday, he qualified his Andretti Autosport entry fifth.
In Monday’s race practice, he was 12th overall.
So far, he’s turned 452 laps this month or more than two full Indy 500’s.
Now, he has a one-hour practice session on Carb Day, and it’s time to race. With that being said, what are his realistic chances for this upcoming weekend?
I think he can win it.
Look at it this way, Carlos Munoz, Kurt Busch and Alexander Rossi all made their first Indy 500 starts with Andretti Autosport, they all finished in the top six. All three had similar plans to get them up to speed at Indy.
Alonso’s had the exact same.
He’s getting more and more comfortable with the car as well as the traffic too. If he can run the first 450 miles and stay out of trouble, and make sure his No. 29 Honda is there in the end, I think he can win it.
At worst case scenario, I can see him finishing in the top 10.
So, my expert prediction, I think he comes away with a top five. My guess is a third or fourth place effort.
That would be a damn good result too.