Event Coverage: 2019 Indianapolis 500
Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon, as well as his CGR teammate Felix Rosenqvist, had a miserable Indy 500. The 2008 500 winner and 5-time and currently defending series champion was only able to qualify 18th, only able to gain one position by the end of the race. At least Dixie was able to finish the race, something that he hasn’t always been so lucky with.
James Hinchcliffe & JR Hildebrand
While we’re on the subject of drivers who couldn’t buy a break: James Hinchcliffe made headlines in 2018 by failing to qualify for the Indy 500. A string of bad luck left him outside looking in. It almost happened again in 2019. During his first qualifying pass, Hinch lost it coming out of Turn 2 and slapped the wall hard, destroying the left side of his SPM prepared Honda. James was OK, but his car was destroyed. SPM put in a heroic effort to get him out later in the day, but he ended up getting pushed into Bump day. Because of rain on Bump/Pole day, James only got one shot at qualifying. He was able to squeak into the field, but it was way too close for anyone’s comfort. With another week to better prepare the car, SPM gave Hinchcliffe a car good enough that he was able to climb his way to 11th in the race.
Fernando Alonso
Obviously we can’t talk Indy without talking about McLaren and Fernando Alonso. Of course one of the biggest stories of the month was how Alonso failed to qualify for his second Indy 500. It was an ignominious end to what turned out to be a farcical May. By now, the stories are well known, from McLaren not having a steering wheel for the car at its first test, to the backup car being painted the wrong color of orange, to the ride height being set in millimeters instead of inches (to be fair, even NASA screws that one up on occasion). The entire attempt was a total disaster from top to bottom. It was an embarrassment for the company that has won 20 combined drivers and constructors Formula 1 championships championships, 182 Grand Prixs, and, oh yeah, two Indianapolis 500s!
Sad Alonso
Alonso himself was as gracious as could be considering the circumstances. He had every right to tell the team to kick rocks when they screwed up the ride height so poorly his car was turning the Speedway into a slot car track. Would you step back into a car put together that poorly? Alonso did and he tried his damndest to make the field. I think it’s safe to say Alonso will be back in 2020, though the real question is will he be in another papaya McLaren? Honestly, if he’s serious about Indy he would be better off partnering with a more established team. A natural fit would be Andretti Autosport of course, but Honda may push back on Alonso after the unkind words he had for their F1 program. He would also have to give up his Toyota seat in WEC. Both of these are the reasons Honda refused to partner with McLaren for Alonso’s Indy ride, which prevented McLaren from partnering with the Honda powered Andretti team. Unfortunately, most of the viable Indy-only programs use Honda engines, so he be SOL unless he can convince Honda he is like, super duper sorry y’all.
Patricio O'Ward
McLaren clearly had their fair share of problems, but they were not solely at fault for their own failures. Dampers from Andretti and a setup sheet from Penske greatly improved the McLaren on Bump Day (and they would have likely made the field if someone had put the right final drive in the car), but the technical support was supposed to come from Carlin Racing. Carlin is only in its second year of IndyCar and they went through a major expansion to not only support McLaren, but also add 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward to their Indy stable. That doubling in size seems to have had a negative effect as all three cars that were bumped from the field were Carlin affiliated cars, including their only full season driver, Max Chilton. It’s really a shame that Carlin struggled so mightily as they are an incredibly successful team in the junior racing ranks. They will certainly learn from their 2019 blunders, but if they choose not to partner McLaren in 2020, that would force McLaren to really re-evaluate their 2020 Indy prospects.


  1. Some interesting stuff going on with the compressor housing of the turbo…. looks like it has two outlets. Indycar running anti-lag these days?

  2. I don’t think anti-lag is allowed, but they may be using some other method of keeping the turbos spooled. Anti-lag wouldn’t really help at Indy anyway since they’re full throttle through the entire lap. Might be more to do with boost control, which is heavily restricted by IndyCar.

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