All eyes on Alonso in a wide-open Indianapolis 500 field

"There's A.J.", fans say, "and there's Roger".

As Motorsport's most-awaited weekend nears, Mithila Mehta and Kunal Shah had to make a tough choice while deciding what to speak about first - the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix or the Indianapolis 500?

The Brazilian is part of the powerhouse Team Penske stable that includes an all-star lineup of Colombian twice victor Juan Pablo Montoya, reigning IndyCar Series champion Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, Australian Will Power and Josef Newgarden all trying to give "The Captain" Roger Penske a 17th trip to Victory Lane. Penske turned 80 a month later. Jonsson, in his 22nd season with Team Penske, is the only chief mechanic to win pit stop competitions with different drivers.

"One thing surprised me, in a positive way - how quickly he got the ideal line". "Last year, we didn't do a fantastic job". Page has some inside info on the situation as his son is an engineer with the combined McLaren/Andretti/Honda team that is supporting Alonso's effort this year. This is about what we expected but we haven't gotten to the race yet, so we can't take anything for granted.

In a month that's been dominated by Honda, Ed Carpenter's team has stood out as the best of the Chevrolet bunch. "The auto was again fast, which is really nice". But he no longer has such a hands-on role with the team.

"I love it. The fans are awesome".

Kanaan, a driver who had his heart broken repeatedly at Indy before his breakthrough victory four years ago, can't predict what might happen.

Indeed Alonso qualified fifth for Sunday's race, and his form during his time in America will rank him among the favourites to win when the lights go out.

As for his first experience with a Wizard Stick, "They told me to do it, so I did", he said.

His American teammate, Josef Newgarden agrees. "We're not here to be second, third or fourth. That's because we've seen other manufacturers over the years bring some pretty big changes for the race".

The love for Indy is almost as big for Penske's children, too.

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He said fans coming to football and rugby matches this weekend should come earlier than usual because of added security screening. The Manchester native said on Twitter he will perform a solo show Tuesday at the 02 Ritz in Manchester.

Even though he's on the pole and satisfied with the speed of his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Dixon admits that he has some natural nervousness just days before the biggest race of the year. Greg Penske even had a hand in speedway construction. Those close to him acknowledge a plan is probably in place - Penske is a meticulous planner, after all - but only his inner-most circle knows any details.

"I have a personal friendship with Nigel", said Page of his relationship with "The Lion". And damn the Indy 500 traditions for not being Kimi Raikkonen-friendly.

This isn't to take away Alonso's credibility, but instead, to compare him-an unexperienced driver in the series-to those who have been competing in it for quite some time. One of the unique aspects of modern pack-esque IndyCar racing at IMS is that you don't necessarily need the fastest vehicle to battle for the win.

The Indy 500 is the sixth race of the IndyCar Series 17-race season and is unique in that drivers get points for qualification.

"Now with (Formula One's new American owners) Liberty Media the difference will be smaller".

How long is the Indy 500?

That's not as much of a problem for established owners.

Alexander Rossi, the Californian who won last year's race as a rookie, briefly had driven in Formula One as well. "They are all races and I need to win and execute well".

Juncos hopes to keep building his IndyCar program, but his focus is only on this weekend. "Awesome", he said. "He has fit right in with the team and the vehicle".

"I felt bad going into 3". We already know of his dislike for rose water on the podium. Just had to back off a little bit before because it caught the cars too fast in front of me.

The 35-year-old Spaniard is bidding to complete the second instalment of the so-called Triple Crown - that of winning in Monte Carlo, which he has done on two occasions, the Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 hours race - and he has impressed on his transition to oval racing so far.

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