McLaren, Alonso returning to run 2019 Indy 500

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McLaren Racing announced Saturday that it will contest the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2019 with Fernando Alonso at the wheel.

Competing in his second Indy 500, Alonso will attempt to become only the second driver ever to secure world motorsport’s unofficial Triple Crown: victories at the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race and the Indianapolis 500, the pinnacle race of the IndyCar Series. The feat was achieved by Graham Hill in 1972 with his win at Le Mans, following his 1966 Indy 500 victory and four triumphs in the Monaco Grand Prix.

McLaren and Alonso competed at the 2017 Indianapolis 500 in a collaboration with Andretti Autosport. Alonso led for 27 laps before being forced to retire with a mechanical issue in the closing stages of the race. McLaren has won the Indy 500 three times, once in 1972 supplying Team Penske and driver Mark Donohue, and twice as a works entry, in 1974 and 1976, with driver Johnny Rutherford. In 2019, it will return as McLaren Racing.

“We are relishing our return to the Brickyard and this incredible race, said Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing. "McLaren has a long and fond relationship with the Indianapolis 500 and it’s a case of unfinished business for us with Fernando. No Indy 500 is a cakewalk, it’s a massive challenge. We have the utmost respect for the race and our competitors. So, we are under no illusions. But McLaren are racers first and foremost, as is Fernando. We’re going for it.”

Alonso, who won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006 and '07, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, is just as excited to be returning to "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

“I’ve made clear for some time my desire to achieve the Triple Crown," said Alonso, 37, the two-time F1 champion. "I had an incredible experience at Indianapolis in 2017, and I knew in my heart of hearts I had to go back if the opportunity was there.

"I am especially glad to be returning with McLaren. This was always my first choice if the team decided to do it, so I’m delighted they have decided to go ahead. It’s a tough race and we’ll be up against the best, so it will be a huge challenge. But we’re racers and that’s why we race. One of the things I’m looking forward to most is seeing the fans again, who are absolutely fantastic.”

Further details on McLaren’s attempt on the Indianapolis 500 will be provided later. Tickets for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, scheduled for May 26, are available at IMS.com.

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