In a twist of irony, Conquest Racing's semi-regular driver Alex Tagliani was the biggest name to miss the cut for this year's Indianapolis 500 on a day of drama that saw one-off team-mate Bruno Junqueira make it into the 33-car field.
Taking advantage of conditions that showed a marked improvement over Saturday's third day of qualifying, several drivers withdrew their previous times to avoid being 'on the bubble'. Tomas Scheckter, Mike Conway, EJ Viso, Nelson Philippe and Milka Duno all pulled the gamble successfully, managing to post faster, safer, times, while Junqueira had little trouble in making the cut on his first run of the month.
"The car is very good, so I said 'let's take a little downforce out' and the car was better," the Brazilian reported, "I'm very excited. It's one of the most exciting moments of my life and my career - I think I broke a record for least laps in practice to put a car in the field."
John Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay, meanwhile, drove their way into the 500 with last-gasp Bump Day attempts that saw Tagliani, Stanton Barrett and race stalwart Buddy Lazier forced to sit out the remainder of the month.
Andretti, who began the day in the field, got bumped midway through by Junqueira, who was making his first qualifying attempt with Conquest Racing, then struggled to find the required speed on two later qualifying attempts.
With just 15 minutes of the session remaining, Andretti, Barrett and Lazier were all outside the field, while Hunter-Reay had been pushed back onto the bubble again.
Andretti was the first to try to snatch Hunter-Reay's grid spot, but his four-lap average was too slow to bump the Vision Racing car from the field. Barrett and Lazier then made last-ditch efforts to qualify, but both waved off their runs after poor first laps.
The quick decision to abandon their attempts allowed Andretti to go back out again with eight minutes remaining in the day and, on his final attempt, the veteran posted a time good enough to guarantee a tenth appearance at Indianapolis, lapping at an average speed of 221.316mph to bump Hunter-Reay. and maintaining his 100 per cent record of qualifying through the month of May.
Hunter-Reay, however, was also able to rebound, and his 220.597mph effort was enough to edge Tagliani by a few hundredths of a second.