By: Allan Brewer, IndyCar correspondent
- Tracy fastest on Bump Day
- Andretti bumps teammate from field
- Long Beach winner fails to qualify
The sword cuts both ways and it fell to Andretti Autosports’ Ryan Hunter Reay to take the wrath of the swinging blade as Marco Andretti bumped his teammate out of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 field in the final qualifying attempt of a showery Sunday Bump Day afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Andretti was forced onto the track to re-qualify after being knocked out of the competition by Dale Coyne Racing’s Alex Lloyd at approximately 5:55 PM EDT. Andretti sped around the 2.5 mile Brickyard for four laps on an average speed of 224.628 mph to climb back into the race at Hunter Reay’s expense.
This thing was lost before we got here.
“It was put it in the show or put it into the wall,” said Andretti of the last minute heroics that put him into the field for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. “It was a roller coaster day, totally at the mercy of Mother Nature. We were really pushing it close today.”
Hunter Reay poorly hid the disappointment in describing the result. “This thing was lost before we got here,” he said of the Andretti Autosport team’s difficult two week search to find speed enough to qualify all four of the team’s cars for the race. Andretti teammate Mike Conway, winner of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, also failed to earn a spot in the 33 car field.
“I’m heartbroken,” said team owner Michael Andretti. “This may be my worst day as an owner; not as a driver certainly, but this probably ranks up there as the worst as a team owner. I knew somebody on this team was not going to be happy at the end of the day.”
The catalyst for the dramatic finish came with Alex Lloyd driving the No. 10 Dale Coyne Racing Dallara Honda into the field on four consistently strong laps for an average speed of 223.957 mph in the last ten minutes of the planned six hour qualifying session.
The trip didn’t come without some excitement for the Carmel, Indiana resident. “The oil temperature ran up on the third lap and the engine started to shake so hard I couldn’t see out the car,” said Lloyd, who finished fourth in the race in 2010.
Rain showers cued the drama of Sunday’s Bump Day qualifications at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but persistence and a calm, focused demeanor ultimately put Danica Patrick into the field of the 2011 Indianapolis 500.
Patrick’s qualification attempt came at 4:45 PM EDT after a long rain delay that forced Patrick from the cockpit and back to her garage for a second time on the day. Patrick’s average speed over four laps of 224.861 mph was good for the middle of the ninth row.
“I skipped a decade of age after this week,” said a relieved Patrick after her run. “I had some falloff over the run but I don’t care what the speed is as long as it’s fast enough to get in. We’ll take what we can get, because we can win from anywhere.”
Patrick was scheduled to make a qualification attempt early on Sunday afternoon but was forced to withdraw when the No. 7 car failed to meet technical specifications. Patrick’s previous attempts to qualify on Saturday Pole Day at Indianapolis failed to yield a speed fast enough to put her onto the grid.
Dreyer and Reinbold’s Paul Tracy qualified with a strong 224.939 mph average speed just ahead of a mid afternoon shower that closed qualifications temporarily on Sunday. “I could see the rain coming on the third lap, then the last lap the car was sliding a little,” said the popular Canadian driver. “You could feel the moisture. I’m just happy to get this car into the race. We’re in and safe now.”
Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe made four laps with an average speed of 224.380 mph to join teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball’s 224.499 mph mark put the rookie into the field, while teammate Graham Rahal turned in a 224.183 mph speed to enter the race.
English woman Pippa Mann earned her first appearance in the Indy 500 on the basis of a 223.936 mph average speed in the Conquest Racing Dallara Honda.
Dreyer and Reinbold’s Ana Beatriz made the first attempt of the day and qualified with a four lap average speed of 223.879 mph.
Ryan HunterReay of Andretti Autosport turned in a qualifying speed of 223.690 mph, while teammate Marco Andretti made a run shortly after 3 PM EDT that averaged 223.688 mph.
AFS Racing’s Raphael Matos turned in a qualifications attempt of 223.272 mph that was insufficiently fast to make the field of 33.
Dragon Racing lost its chance to compete in the race when Patrick Carpentier, filling in for the injured Ho Pin Tung, crashed in early morning practice and destroyed the last of the team’s two cars.
Monday takes the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 field to New York City where the drivers will be the focal point of a media blitz that begins in Times Square. The Greatest Spectacle in Racing is scheduled for a Noon EDT green flag on May 29th and will be broadcast live in high definition television on the ABC Network.