A dramatic week of drama came to a crushing end for Fernando Alonso as Juncos Racing's Kyle Kaiser bumped him in the final moments of the Last Row Shootout to fill the field for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

The McLaren Racing team made wholesale changes to the No. 66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet with some assistance from some of the top teams in the NTT IndyCar Series paddock. That followed a stressful Saturday where the 32-time Grand Prix winner made five qualifying attempts to crack the Top 30.

The two-time Formula One world champion was third in line to qualify as James Hinchcliffe and Max Chilton kicked everything off. Hinchcliffe, who failed to qualify for last year's 500, secured his spot in the show with a smooth 4-lap average of 227.543 mph.

Chilton's run was quite the opposite as he struggled with speed and completed his run with a 226.192 average.

Alonso took his turn and clocked his fastest run of the week at 227.353 mph which kicked Chilton out of the field. He noted that the car felt satisfactory despite not taking any preparation laps with the new setup.

"I think the car felt better now but obviously with no practice – you have what you want to attempt," he said. "Maybe it's not enough but it is the way it is and we tried our best."

"The car felt good and the conditions today were much better, cool so you feel more downforce and it wasn't too difficult."

The tension rose when Sage Karam set a benchmark 4-lap average of 227.740 mph that bumped Alonso to the bubble spot.

Recently named Red Bull Junior driver Patricio O'Ward was next. The 2018 Indy Lights champion showed pace on his opening two laps but faded rapidly on his final two and couldn't bump his way into the field.

That left the single-car entry of Kaiser and Juncos Racing to try and make the show. The 2017 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire champion's run in the 500 was just as audacious as Alonso's having lost two sponsors before the week began and suffering a practice crash that totalled their only oval-spec car.

The Californian delivered when everything was on the line and knocked out Alonso by the slimmest of margins - .019mph and taking the final spot in the field of 33.

"I don't think we can wrap my mind around what we just did," said Kaiser. "This is all the credit to the team – they've been working nonstop trying to get this car ready for us. I'm so proud of them and everybody that helped make this happen."

Alonso joins Carlin Racing teammates Chilton and O'Ward on the sidelines.

 

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