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Kyle Kaiser knocks Alonso, McLaren out of Indy 500

Updated: 2019-05-20 09:42
Kyle Kaiser celebrates after gaining the final starting position for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 on May 19, 2019. [Photo/IC]

INDIANAPOLIS — Fernando Alonso did everything in his power to put McLaren in the Indianapolis 500. He drove flat-out when his car was loose, when it wouldn't steer and when it had a punctured tire.

When his team put together a desperate final setup and no one had a clue how it would perform, he charged wide-open into the first turn at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with zero fear.

"I tried. I tried my best," he said.

His effort could not overcome the mistakes made by McLaren in its hyped return to the Indy 500. Alonso was bumped from the field by 23-year-old Kyle Kaiser in a dramatic last-gasp bid by tiny Juncos Racing. McLaren came to Indy with every inch of its car sold in sponsorship and guaranteed to turn a profit. Juncos Racing lost its two primary sponsors right before opening day and spent most of this week in an unmarked white car.

Juncos was the underdog from the very start, and when Kaiser crashed Friday and destroyed the car, every one of Ricardo Junco's employees worked through the night to put together a car for Kaiser to qualify.

"We worked 48 straight hours, we couldn't think straight," Juncos said.

Juncos all week has done everything better than mighty McLaren, the Formula One team that dominated Indy in the 1970s. Kaiser was faster than Alonso every day, and while Juncos was able to rebound fairly quickly from Kaiser's crash, it took McLaren almost two full days to get a car ready after Alonso crashed on Wednesday.

McLaren then begged and borrowed for assistance all across the paddock, threw an entirely new setup on the car Sunday morning, and it dragged and sparked along the track on Alonso's first lap. He had to pit for a fix, got in just five more laps of practice, then rain ended the session.

Juncos, meanwhile, never went on track Sunday morning in a decision the team owner believes got Kaiser into the race.

"We decided not to practice that was a key decision because it allowed us another four, five hours to work on the car," he said. Now his phone is buzzing, potential sponsors are lining up, and he vowed to have a covered car in next Sunday's race.

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