autoracing 1 week ago

Suspension issue shortens Alonso's 1st work day at Indy

The Associated Press — By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A rear suspension problem limited two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso to just 20 laps in Monday's opening Indianapolis 500 practice.

The Spanish driver posted a fast lap of 223.205 mph and was 19th on the speed chart. He was well off the pace of 226.338 set by his teammate Marco Andretti.

Andretti Autosport took two of the top five spots, and Honda drivers claimed four of the top five spots.

Less than two weeks ago, Alonso made his oval debut at the historic 2.5-mile Brickyard in a solo test.

On Monday, things changed. The overcast skies and cool temperatures were replaced by sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s, and this time Alonso had to contend with 32 other drivers on the track.

The biggest question looming for Alonso was dealing with the traffic.

Andretti's team had planned to give Alonso a small taste of it during the usually chaotic final 60 minutes, known at the track as Happy Hour.

But their strategy was thwarted by the suspension problem. Now Alonso will spend the next four days trying to make up for lost time before qualifying begins Saturday.

Michael Andretti believes Alonso's racing experience will help the IndyCar rookie get up to speed quickly and perhaps even contend for a win.

Before then, though, Alonso acknowledges he has a lot to learn about the course, the changing track conditions, different racing styles and what it takes to put a car in position to win this race.

"I think the most difficult thing will be the race itself," Alonso said. "You know all things that happen in a race like this one, which are the traffic and learning all the little tricks to overtake and to use the performance of your car at which point in the race — all these things that you can only learn with experience.

"I don't have the experience, and I don't have the time. So I have to learn as quick as I can in the next 10 days to try and close that gap."

Qualifying is set for Saturday and Sunday. The 101st running of the 500 is scheduled for May 28.


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