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Indy 500: Carpentier takes over Dragon #20, crashes
22 May 2011
Drama and confusion surrounded the unexpected return of veteran Canadian ChampCar driver Patrick Carpentier to Indianapolis.
When practice for today's Bump Day started, Carpentier was listed as the driver of the #20 - previously driven by American driver Scott Speed.
There were intense rumours at the end of Friday that Speed and the Dragon team had had a massive falling out over their Indy 500 campaign leading to furious rows and Speed apparently storming out of the team.
Speed denied that he had left the team and ran in Saturday morning practice, but did not carry out any qualifying runs in the afternoon. His team mate, Ho-Pin Tung, did run but crashed on his qualifying attempt and has been diagnosed with a mild concussion that means he is not cleared to drive for the rest of the weekend.
Then on Sunday morning, Carpentier showed up and got into the #20, while Speed watched on from the pit wall.
It seems that rather than Speed having left the team, Carpentier has come in as a consultant to help the #20 crew sort out their set-up problems that left them in last place in the final practice session on Friday with no hope of qualifying for the Indy 500, which would have caused pressure from team sponsors who were expecting their brands to be placed in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
It's also possible that Carpentier is being lined up to replace Tung in a qualifying run in a rebuilt #8. If Carpentier were able to qualify the car for Tung, the Chinese driver would still be able to race on Sunday if the team wanted, albeit from the back of the grid for a driver substitution.
Either way, the team's woes have increased after Carpentier promptly planted the #20 into the wall when on his 25th lap in the morning practice session, which halted the session. Carpentier was able to climb out but was described as looking woozy as he did so, having taken a very hard hit.
Charlie Kimball was quickest for Chip Ganassi's junior team in the morning practice, followed by Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal, all with speeds above 226mph as they attempt to make the grid and then survive "bumping" during the rest of the day.
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