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"I think he's done a hell of a job". The excitement our fans had for Fernando participating was wonderful, because of his excitement in participating.

Fernando Alonso, the two-time Formula One champion making his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, ran the second-most laps on the day (122) and finished 12th on the speed chart at 226.147 miles per hour in the No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda. Sato and Alonso qualified in the second row and will start fourth and fifth.

"Actually, I have done that a few times", team owner and former IndyCar star Michael Andretti said. It was so much faster. "I'm happy with the performance".

Button, who took pole and won in Monaco in 2009 en route to his drivers' title with Brawn, confessed that although he hasn't exactly been pining to get back in an F1 cockpit, he relished the challenge of the new cars.

"One of the things I've seen with Fernando is his attention to detail", three-time Indy 500 victor Dario Franchitti told CNN.

Alonso moved into contention for the pole after series officials bumped up the horsepower in Friday's practice.

"For the fans, from what I see now in Spain and Europe, it is incredible the interest in the Indy 500 this year compared to any other year", he said. You keep trying to learn, trying to get it better.

Since then eight others have managed the feat with only three coming in the last 50 years but the most recent came last year when Alexander Rossi, a former GP2 driver, triumphed for Andretti Autosport - the same team for which Alonso will race in 2017.

"You're running very close, not only in the straights but in the corners".

"What he's gonna learn is that mistakes are punished". "I hope I didn't use it all up there. You can not go over the limit".

France's Sebastien Bourdais, who sustained multiple hip fractures when he crashed during qualifying on Saturday, underwent surgery Saturday night and is recovering, according to a statement.

So when the opportunity came about to miss the Monaco GP, where he would likely be battling for a slim chance of a top-10 finish, he jumped at a seat in Indy 500. That interest is a far cry from the scene outside James Hinchcliffe's garage as we sit uninterrupted on his golf cart for a long chat during practice week, but the Canadian's initial reaction to the stir caused immediately puts my mind at ease.

"He's up against it, but he's a multiple world champion", Chilton told CNN.

Kiwi motorsport ace Scott Dixon didn't take the armed robbers seriously at first when they help him up at a Taco Bell in Indianapolis, his mother says.

Alonso's contract with McLaren is up at the end of the season and allowing him to race in Indy 500 is thought to be part of the plan to convince him to stay. It was a point I put to driver coach Rob Wilson in a (soon-to-be-released) Royal Automobile Club Talk Show yesterday thinking he'd go on to extol the virtues of the two-time world champion's driving skills.

A lack of experience may cost him on the biggest day of U.S. racing when a champion will be crowned after 200 laps of the massive 4km oval, but Alonso is geared up for the chance.

"It's a lovely experience to drive these cars", he said. "Just guessing what the vehicle will do, what you are doing".

Turns out one answer is Fernando Alonso. It changes completely the behaviour of the auto.

"I think the first year the style of racing was different, the cars were different and it is much more intense now".

Unser has no doubt that Alonso has the potential to win the race, describing him as "here to win".

"Indy is a unusual beast", Villeneuve says.

Alonso says Rossi's recent victory has cranked up the pressure, but admits he has set no firm goals to win the race. It could go his way. "So there are positives to having run here before but there are positives being a rookie too".

Alonso chose to skip this week's Monaco Grand Prix, which he has won twice, to try and add the Indy 500 as his second leg to a rare Triple Crown of Motorsport.

"Might as well aim to win it", he said. I'm one of those guys, I'm a racer.


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