Bruno Junqueira will
have a shot at making the field for next weekend's Indianapolis 500 after inking a last-gasp deal to fill a second seat at Conquest Racing.
In the space of 24 hours, two possible deals have been turned on their heads, with Tomas Scheckter taking the seat at Dale Coyne Racing initially expected to go to 2008 incumbent Junqueira, while the Brazilian has slipped into one of the two possible vacancies that his South African rival was tipped to be considering.
Junqueira's deal has been made possible by a tie-up between Conquest and All Sport Inc, which allowed talks between the two parties to become reality with just two days of qualifying remaining in preparation for the blue riband event. Should he make it through Saturday's third qualifying session, and survive Bump Day, Junqueira would make his sixth Indy 500 appearance. It is a task he feels up to taking on.
“I'm quite happy with the opportunity to race for Conquest Racing and Big Red Inc,” he said, “We've talked in the past and I'm looking forward to working with them as they are a very well organised team. The Indy 500 is a special race for me and having the chance to do this race again will be very nice.
"For sure, we do not have much time to prepare, but I have good experience at this track and I think we can put the car in the race and have a good showing. I want to thank [team owner] Eric [Bachelart] and [Big Red CEO] Gary [Smith] for giving me this opportunity, as well as All Sport and Big Red for their support. I can't wait to sit aboard the car for the first time.”
Junqueira has led a total of 52 laps and has a best finish of fifth at the Indy 500, having raced with Target Chip Ganassi, Newman/Haas and Dale Coyne at the Brickyard in recent years.
“We are very excited to have Bruno join the team,” Bachelart confirmed, “He is a proven winner and I am fully confident in his abilities to come out and do well despite the limited practice time. Bruno also brings with him a wealth of experience racing here at Indianapolis and we look forward to working with him.”
All Sport, another drinks brand making the most of the exposure Indianapolis will provide, rejoins Conquest in a bigger capacity than their previous relationship, and will be the title sponsor on Junqueira's #36 car, following the team's connection with the Rubicon Sports Agency.
“Gary and his Big Red product were partners on our Rubicon effort last May and it's extremely gratifying to have his All Sport brand as a partner on this Conquest effort,” stated Rubicon founder Jim Freudenberg, “This is the culmination of lots of hard work between Gary and I to put a great deal together for all parties involved.”