Alonso joins seven past winners among Indy 500 entrants

Washington (AFP) –


Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso of Spain and seven past winners are among drivers for 36 cars announced Wednesday as entrants for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.

The May 26 IndyCar oval classic around the famed 2.5-mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway offers Alonso a chance to complete global auto racing's "Triple Crown" with Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Indy 500 triumphs.

The 37-year-old Spaniard led 27 laps as an Indy 500 newcomer in 2017 before a mechanical problem ended his race with 20 laps remaining. He was named the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year for his efforts.

Alonso's career includes F1 crowns in 2005 and 2006, Monaco victories in 2006 and 2007 and a share of the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans title from the pole alongside teammates Sebastien Buemi of Switzerland and Kazuki Nakajima of Japan.

Britain's Graham Hill is the only driver to have won the "Triple Crown" of LeMans, Monaco and Indy classics, taking the Indy 500 in 1966.

After driving endurance races last year, Alonso returns to Indy in a Chevrolet-powered McLaren with car number 66, the same number used by Mark Donohue in 1972 in McLaren's first Indy 500 win.

Australian Will Power will defend his Indy 500 title, trying to become the first back-to-back winner since Brazil's Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.

Castroneves, who also won in 2009, is back as well. The Brazilian, who turns 44 next week, seeks a fourth Indy 500 victory to match the all-time record shared by Americans A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears.

Other former winners include New Zealand's Scott Dixon (2008), Brazil's Tony Kanaan (2013), Americans Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014) and Alexander Rossi (2016) and Japan's Takuma Sato (2017).

In all, 33 cars will qualify for the annual "Brickyard" showdown. Practice begins May 14. Time trials are May 18-19 with 30 cars earning spots on the 18th and the last three spots and top nine starting order decided on the 19th.

Marco Andretti will drive a red car featuring the same look used by his grandfather, Mario Andretti, when he won his only Indy 500 title 50 years ago.

Other international racers in the field include Frenchmen Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, Brazil's Matheus Leist, United Arab Emirates' Ed Jones, Canada's James Hinchcliffe, Australian James Davison and England's Pippa Mann, Jack Harvey and Max Chilton.