Indy 500: Fernando Alonso makes latest attempt at Triple Crown
Watch the 104th Indy 500 from 6pm on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and the App. The 200-lap race starts at 7.30pm
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 23/08/20 6:22pm
Fernando Alonso believes he can get himself in the mix for Indy 500 victory from 26th on the grid on Sunday, as the F1 champion makes his final attempt to complete the Triple Crown for at least three years.
The former F1 champion is in the starting field for the famous 500-mile Brickyard race for the second time, three years after his only race-day appearance so far when he led for 27 laps before dropping out with an engine failure.
He is aiming to become just the second driver after Graham Hill to win the three races considered the most prestigious in motorsport - the Monaco GP (which Alonso won in 2006-07), Le Mans 24 Hours (2018-19) and Indy 500.
The 200-lap race is underway from 7.30pm live on Sky Sports F1, Main Event and the App, with coverage from 6pm. Non-subscribers can buy a NOW TV pass to watch for £9.99.
Alonso's uphill challenge for history
The 39-year-old is the third of the Arrow McLaren SP drivers on the grid but the team's cars have looked stronger in race trim, with team-mate Pato O'Ward fastest in Friday's 'Carb Day' final practice.
Asked after finishing 23rd quickest on Friday if he could still make his way to the front on Sunday, Alonso did not flicker before replying: "Yes."
He then added: "Crossing the line one centimetre in front of them - that's the only target.
"It's going to be a challenge for everyone. This year's cars are challenging in terms of traffic, following and setting up the car. It's going to be hotter as well, so there are many factors that will make the car and the race difficult for everyone.
"So, we just need to rely on strategy, on the luck, on our pure pace, changing the balance during the pits stops trying to make the car fast for the final part of the race.
"We're starting at the back, it's even more challenging, but we love these kind of things."
Recent Indy 500 history, however, is not on Alonso's side.
In its previous 103 runnings, the race has only been won from lower than 22nd on the grid on three occasions - the last time coming in 1974 when Johnny Rutherford took the victory from 25th.
However, in a more positive omen for Alonso, Rutherford was driving for McLaren, who claimed their first of two Indy 500 victories. The Woking outfit have returned to IndyCar full-time this year, in partnership with the established Schmidt Peterson team, after one-off Indy 500 forays with Alonso in 2017 and 2019, when they failed to qualify.
Who starts where in the 33-car field?
Alonso's quest across the 200 laps starts on the middle of row nine, just behind last year's winner Simon Pagenaud, who is one of a number of IndyCar's big names outside of expected position outside the top 10.
Marco Andretti, the grandson of F1 and IndyCar champion Mario, starts on pole position for the first time ahead of former winners Scott Dixon and Takuma Sato.
The Honda-powered cars dominated qualifying, taking eight of the positions in the Fast Nine shootout, but the Chevrolet-engined runners - of which Alonso is one - have appeared closer in race set-up and traffic around the 2.5-mile oval.
There are three Britons in the field - Max Chilton, who finished fourth in 2007 after leading for part of the race - Jack Harvey and Ben Hanley. The trio start 30th, 20th and 33rd respectively.