Triple Crown Crisis (Part 3)

© [Jamie Sheldrick/ Spacesuit Media]

© [Jamie Sheldrick/ Spacesuit Media]

By Allan Brewer

Part two of a three part series – read part oneread part two

There will not be a Congressional investigation into why Fernando and McLaren could not generate sufficient pace to qualify for the greatest race in the world. Reporters like me will ask questions, and fans will wonder if their heroes’ feet are made of clay, but in the grand scale of things it is a race, a form of entertainment, and life and its demands go on.

For my money the only man who has the personal experience and professional credibility to assess McLaren’s failure is the man who has won at Indianapolis more than anyone else—seventeen times—Roger Penske.

“I think that Zak and Gil and certainly Fernando go home very disappointed,” he said. “I’ve had the same thing, remember, with two drivers in ’95 after we had sat on the pole. I think we led every lap but two in ’94 and didn’t make the race with two cars.”

“When you walk down to pit lane with your driver after that, it really injects something else into you, how you’ve got to come back and be stronger,” he continued. “But I would never count them out.”

“I think a lot of people were anxious to see Alonso run,” Penske finished. “I’m sorry to see those guys not make it.”

One of the men who successfully out sped Fernando into the field of 33 on Sunday evening is grateful for McLaren’s attempt. “McLaren and Fernando brought a lot of attention to the race,” said James Hinchcliffe, who will start 31st in the race.

“The only story here is that it’s not easy, and I don’t think anyone on that team thought that it was,” he said, “or think anyone came in with misconceptions of what it was going to take.”

“I hope people over there have a new appreciation for just how difficult it is to come over here and get 10 miles, four laps done at a fast enough speed to make the show,” he said.”We have very high-caliber engineers, mechanics, everything; and with one of the highest caliber drivers that’s ever set foot on earth they didn’t get it done.”

For McLaren the 2019 qualifying experience at Indy casts a pall on a full-time IndyCar presence anytime soon. However, if they are indeed sincere about winning the 500 during Alonso’s viable open-wheel driving career it seems like a necessary step to get on the moving sidewalk with the other teams and staying there.

For Alonso, whose love-affair with American fans was beginning to wane with complaints of their near-ubiquity near the end of his time here, it’s a coin-flip whether he returns to Formula 1 or tries again, with or without McLaren.

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