IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told Autoweek on Saturday that McLaren’s return to the Indianapolis 500 with Fernando Alonso will once again bring more international attention to the “World’s Biggest Race.”
McLaren and Alonso announced earlier Saturday that the two would return for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019. McLaren and Alonso last competed in the 101st Indianapolis 500 in 2017.
“We’re delighted,” Miles told Autoweek. “We’ve already experienced it in 2017. Fernando will bring a great following, especially in Europe. That is just terrific. He was very competitive his first time out and I’m sure he will be so again.”
When McLaren announced at Circuit of the Americas at the United States Grand Prix that McLaren would not do a full-time IndyCar team in 2019, Miles knew McLaren was still working on an Indy 500 deal.
“I knew they were working on it; but it wasn’t done,” Miles said. “We were disappointed they could not get it together for the whole year. They will be here in May and will continue to work on a full-time IndyCar team for 2020.”
The Indianapolis 500 has had quite a run this decade.
In 2011, the race celebrated its 100th Anniversary and the late Dan Wheldon scored a stunning victory when race-leader JR Hildebrand crashed in the final turn of the final lap heading to the checkered flag.
In 2012, Dario Franchetti scored the final victory of his incredible IndyCar career when he held off a bold move by Takuma Sato in Turn 1 on the final lap. Sato lost control, crashed in Turn 1 and Franchetti won the Indy 500 for the third time in his career. He also won four IndyCar Series championships.
In 2013, the race featured a record 68 lead changes with popular driver Tony Kanaan claiming his only Indy 500 win. The next year, 2004 NASCAR Cup champion Kurt Busch competed in the race and finished seventh but created some additional attention to the event as a stock car driver who was very competitive in the big race.
Juan Pablo Montoya won a thrilling race in the 2015 Indy 500, holding off Team Penske teammate Will Power at the checkered flag.
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