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Andretti buys Junqueira's Indy 500 spot

"This is going back to the way racing used to be, where if people were in a lot of trouble, you tried to help each other out. I know it's a tough deal for Bruno but he understood the situation. I appreciate that more than anyone knows.

"Obviously, this is a unique circumstance for our team, but the thought of AJ Foyt joining forces with the Andrettis for the Indy 500 could result in something special," said Michael Andretti, seeking to put a positive spin on the move that it likely to be highly controversial if not outright mocked by fans and motorsports media. "It's a credit to AJ for being willing to help us with one of our full-season IndyCar entries at a time when we need it."

Read the full press release from AJ Foyt Racing announcing the driver substitution.

It isn't the first time that Junqueira has made it through Indy qualifying, only to have to make way for someone else. Two years ago while driving for Conquest Racing, he found himself switched out for none other than Alex Tagliani - the same driver who has claimed pole position this year.

"Junqueira plans to open 'Junky's Indy 500 Qualification Service' as part of Speedway Main St. renovation. Target market: rich kids," quipped freelance motor sports journalist Bill Zahren on Twitter when he returned home from Indianapolis to read the breaking news. "I'm only half joking that Bruno should go into business qualifying cars then taking the big cash to walk away."

The switch is not just a matter of vanity for Andretti Autosport, or trying to cover the embarrassment of not making the cut at the weekend; in many ways, having to buy their way back on to the grid is even more uncomfortable for the team than simply accepting the disappointment.

But the team have some major sponsors who are backing them in the clear expectation of getting their brands on TV for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and the consequences of not delivering that media coverage next Sunday were too dire for team owner Michael Andretti not to act - as Andretti acknowledged in the press release announcing the deal.

"I can't thank AJ and his team enough for giving us an opportunity to put Ryan, DHL, Sun Drop and our other valued sponsors in the Indy 500," he said

Assuming the paperwork goes through, Ryan Hunter-Reay - who ironically drove for Foyt's team in 2009 - will be the beneficiary. He was the driver bumped out in the last seconds when his team mate Marco Andretti managed to improve his time and bump the #28 off the grid, too late for Hunter-Reay to fight back.

Hunter-Reay had been distraught on Sunday evening. "I can't even process this right now. It's just devastating," he said. "This is terrible ... I don't know what to tell you. This is the worst. I don't think it's really hit just yet. I can't process it."

Now, he won't have to.




Related Pictures

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Bruno Junqueira during Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 22. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media.]
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates after qualifying fastest Saturday, August 29, 2015, capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Power, the 2014 Champion Driver, has an outside chance to repeat during this final race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay reviews telemetry data in his pit stand during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay apexes the Turn 9A chicane during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay sits in his Andretti Autosport Honda on pit lane prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia is strapped into his Andretti Autosport Honda prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia is strapped into his Andretti Autosport Honda prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti kicks up some dust in the Turn 9A chicane complex during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Graham Rahal, and James Hinchcliffe bring their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson speaks with Oriol Servia in pit lane (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson stands in Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 2015 Indianapolis 500 (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden, driver of the #67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, races to a second place finish Sunday, August 22, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates in victory circle after winning the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday August 23 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates on the podium with Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya after winning the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday August 23 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates with the Andretti Autosport team in victory circle after winning the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday August 23 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates in victory circle after winning the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday August 23 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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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.



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