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2011 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Rd 5, Bump Day, May 22nd)

May 25, 2011

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Without doubt, Bump Day for the Indianapolis 500 is one of the greatest day’s in the motor racing calendar.

It is a six hour span that sees tension, drama and conviction come to the fore — and occasionally controversy also reigns, as it did last night.

When Andretti-Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay failed to qualify for the 500 mile race come Sunday evening, talks began to buy a spot on the grid for the beleaguered American.
By early Monday night, it had been confirmed that Bruno Junqueira – driving a second, one-off entry for Foyt Enterprises – had been removed from his seat and replaced by Hunter-Reay.

In this situation, Hunter-Reay will start the race from 33rd and last place (Junqueira had qualified 19th on Pole Day), in a car run by Foyt, but with a mixture of Foyt and Andretti sponsors.
For a team that won the great race twice in recent years (2005 and 2007), Andretti-Autosport sure struggle to qualify for the Indy 500 nowadays, especially considering their troubles last year too. Perhaps, with four drivers, the team stretched far too thinly for the people that work there now.

In a press release thereafter, AJ Foyt stated:

“We’ve been competitors for many years but still it’s the kind of relationship when someone is really down and out, you can’t turn your back on them – at least I can’t.”

Kicking your own driver to the kerb was probably not the best way to show your intentions, AJ. Foyt also said that:

“This is going back to the way racing used to be, where if people were in a lot of trouble, you tried to help each other out.”
Sorry AJ, but just because racing used to be that doesn’t mean it is right. Times have changed and maybe the way to do business in racing has to change with it.”

Michael Andretti also revealed that:

“The fastest 33 cars are what qualify for the Indy 500 and that’s always been the case. We’re not doing anything that changes that. This has happened before. One of the greatest finishes in Indy 500 history, in 1992, involved a car that had a driver change before the race. Scott Goodyear replaced Mike Groff and Scott nearly won the race. It’s not a new thing.
I disagree with the idea that we are doing something to hurt the integrity of the Indy 500. We would never do that – ever. The rule is the fastest 33 cars make the race – not the 33 fastest drivers. And, that is what will be on track Sunday.”

Again Mike, just because something worked twenty years ago does not mean it passes mustard today.

As much as I feel bad for Bruno, I also feel bad for the people who turned up at the Speedway.to see the drama unfold. The folks that paid hard money to see the field filled, only to find the result changed thereafter – memories of the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix spring to mind.
What’s especially sad is that AJ did not replace one of his own drivers with another, but that he sold his entry to a completely different team.

The IndyCar Series has had plenty of troubles over the years – whether they be the split, the proliferation of drivers with questionable talents and sizeable wallets or an occasionally curious application of the rules – it’s seen it all.
If the series really wants to be taken seriously, steps need to be taken to ensure this situation does not happen again – and that may mean changing the rules regarding the entry lists for race participation; something the team owners may rally against.

Yes, racing is a business and an expensive one at that, but it is very hard to do business if no one is buying your product and while this situation will certainly not see huge drop in fans, it is another example of the erosion of integrity that the series continues to endure.
And that is sad.

For the record, Paul Tracy, Ryan Briscoe, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal, Pippa Mann and Ana Beatriz all got in with their first runs before rain came. The tension sky-rocketed when it looked as if series star Danica Patrick would not make the show, but once the track was dry and the sky had brightened, the Andretti-Autosport driver qualified with ease.

With ten minutes remaining, Alex Lloyd pulled together a bonzai run to put his Dale Coyne prepared car into the field to bump Marco Andretti, before Andretti himself bumped teammate Hunter-Reay.
The final Andretti-Autosport driver, Mike Conway also could not get up to speed, while Raphael Matos (AFS), James Jakes (Dale Coyne) and Sebastian Saavedra (Conquest) also failed to make the grade.
Dragon Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung was a shoe-in to qualify on Pole Day until he smashed receiving a concussion. The second Dragon car – originally to be taken by Scott Speed – was crashed by replacement driver Patrick Carpentier during practice. The Canadian was unhurt.

Pos Driver Team Speed
 1.  Alex Tagliani        Sam Schmidt              227.472mph
 2.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi                  227.340mph
 3.  Oriol Servia         Newman/Haas              227.168mph
 4.  Townsend Bell        Sam Schmidt              226.887mph
 5.  Will Power           Penske                   226.773mph
 6.  Dan Wheldon          Herta                    226.490mph
 7.  Buddy Rice           Panther                  225.786mph
 8.  Ed Carpenter         Sarah Fisher             225.121mph
 9.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi
10.  Takuma Sato          KV                       225.736mph
11.  Vitor Meira          Foyt                     225.590mph
12.  JR Hildebrand        Panther                  225.579mph
13.  James Hinchcliffe    Newman/Haas              225.572mph
14.  Bertrand Baguette    Rahal Letterman Lanigan  225.285mph
15.  Davey Hamilton       Dreyer & Reinbold        225.250mph
16.  Helio Castroneves    Penske                   225.216mph
17.  John Andretti        Petty/Andretti           224.981mph
18.  EJ Viso              KV                       224.732mph
 Bruno Junqueira Foyt 224.691mph** (Removed)
19.  Justin Wilson        Dreyer & Reinbold        224.511mph
20.  Jay Howard           Rahal/Schmidt            224.483mph
21.  Tomas Scheckter      KV/SH                    224.433mph
22.  Tony Kanaan          KV                       224.417mph
23.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM                      224.392mph
24.  Paul Tracy           Dreyer & Reinbold        224.939mph
25.  Danica Patrick       Andretti                 224.861mph
26.  Ryan Briscoe         Penske                   224.639mph
27.  Marco Andretti       Andretti                 224.628mph
28.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi                  224.499mph
29.  Graham Rahal         Ganassi                  224.380mph
30.  Alex Lloyd           Dale Coyne               223.957mph
31.  Pippa Mann           Conquest                 223.936mph
32.  Ana Beatriz          Dreyer & Reinbold        223.879mph
33.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti                 (no speed)
Did not qualify:
     Raphael Matos        AFS
     Mike Conway          Andretti
     James Jakes          Dale Coyne
     Sebastian Saavedra   Conquest
     Ho-Pin Tung          Schmidt/Dragon
     Scott Speed          Dragon

2011 IndyCar Series (Round 5, Qualifying)
Pos Driver Team Points
 1. Will Power           Penske                   178
 2. Dario Franchitti     Ganassi                  160
 3. Oriol Servia         Newman-Haas              122
 4. Ryan Briscoe         Penske                   104
 5. Tony Kanaan          KV Racing                103
 6. Mike Conway          Andretti-Autosport       102
 7. Alex Tagliani        Sam Schmidt Motorsports  100
 8. Scott Dixon          Ganassi                   97
 9. Graham Rahal         Ganassi                   85
10. Takuma Sato          KV Racing                 84
11. Simona de Silvestro  HVM Racing                82
12. Vitor Meira          Foyt Enterprises          81
One Comment
  1. “One of the greatest finishes in Indy 500 history, in 1992, involved a car that had a driver change before the race. Scott Goodyear replaced Mike Groff and Scott nearly won the race.”

    It is strange how it is the car that does the qualifying but the driver who wins (or nearly wins) the race.

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