IndyCar »

Andretti buys Junqueira's Indy 500 spot

Andretti Autosport has bought Bruno Junqueria's place on the Indy 500 grid for Ryan Hunter-Reay, as the team goes into crisis and damage limitation mode over its qualifying performance.
News erupted late on Monday afternoon that Andretti Autosport had been shopping around the Indianapolis paddock looking for anyone willing to sell their starting place for next week's Indy 500, so that the team could insert one of their two regular drivers who failed to make it through Bump Day.

The top target for Andretti was the car of Bruno Junqueira, who qualified the #41 AJ Foyt car in 19th position on the first day of the weekend qualifying.

Less than 24 hours after the gunshot sounded out around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to signal the end of qualifying and the sealing of the grid, the deal had been done and Ryan Hunter-Reay's team has managed to bump their driver back on the grid via the cheque book rather than the times sheets.

Any car that has a driver substitution after qualifying has to start from the back of the grid - but being at the back is still better than not being on it at all. While driver substitutions post-qualifying are relatively common for the Indy 500, it's believed to be the first time since 1981 that a driver has been substituted by a bumped driver from a rival team.

"I got bump," tweeted Bruno Junqueira at 10.30pm UK time on Monday evening. "I will not race in the #Indy500." In a more formal press release, he was quoted as saying: "I have to thank AJ, Larry and the team for giving me this opportunity to drive at Indy this year because otherwise I would have been riding my bike in Miami. I always respected A.J. before, but after working with him, I respect him even more.

"I had a great time working with him and Vitor, and I hope my work helped them this month. I also hope the team has a great race."

Asked later if he had received any promises of some future quid pro quo in return for dropping out, Junqueira said: "We'll see."

AJ Foyt had earlier said that he was funding Junqueira's Indy campaign "out of my own pocket" after failing to attract sponsorship, and it seems as though the canny four-time Indianapolis 500 champion has just converted that into a very successful financial investment. Even so, many were shocked that the motorsport legend who has always been such a stickler for the purity of the sport should be willing to agree to the move.

Talking about the Foyt/Andretti family relationship over the years, Foyt said: "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.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Bruno Junqueira during Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 22. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media.]
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates pole position in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay leads Sebastien Bourdais during the early stages of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay leads James Hinchcliffe during the early stages of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
AJ Foyt (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay around the fountain turn during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on course during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on course during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on course during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on course during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Helio astroneves celebrate on the podium. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Helio astroneves celebrate on the podium. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti crash during a restart attempt. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato and A.J. Foyt after winning pole. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


Steve - Unregistered

May 24, 2011 9:21 AM

What kind of farcical, unprofessional, joke of sport is it that allows teams to sell their place to someone who did not qualify? I thought it was the 1st of April when I started reading this.



© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.