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Andretti buys Junqueira's Indy 500 spot

The deal appears to leave Mike Conway out in the cold, with the initial reports stating that Andretti Autosport was only seeking to buy up one place from other teams on the grid. Subsequent rumours suggested that the team were also desperately seeking to purchase a second grid slot for Conway as well, as he is ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay in the IndyCar championship points after his race win at Long Beach in April, but this appeared to be merely rumour and speculation.

Among the candidates who could possibly be called upon to fall upon their sword and give up their race seat is Dale Coyne Racing's Alex Lloyd, whose stunning final attempt in the #26 was the spark that ignited the Bump Day drama by dumping out Marco Andretti to start with.

Meanwhile, the Andretti Autosport team have started to react to the seriously bad performance of the team as a whole over the Indy 500 practice and qualifying week. On Bump Day, Andretti had said that it had been "Probably my worst day as an owner," adding ruefully: "Had a few worse as a driver.

"I'm not very happy about [what happened]," Andretti had said earlier in the day. "I was given an indication it was going to be a lot different [from 2010 when Tony Kanaan was nearly bumped out of the race] and actually it was worse ... It's especially bad that we got out-qualified by a few cars that aren't as good as ours."

Team competition director Tom Anderson has been the first head to roll as he took the fall for Conway's #27 being dismal from the get-go. Anderson had been in charge of the team's competition department for the past two Indy 500 campaigns. He had been managing director of Ganassi Racing's CART operations in the 90s when they won four consecutive titles, and moved too become managing director of Fernandez Racing through the 2000s.

With all five of the drivers who failed to make the grid currently regular IndyCar season drivers with full-year deals and sponsorship arrangements, the news about Andretti's grid spot shopping has led to fevered speculation about a "domino effect" to other teams - such as Pippa Mann being ousted from her Conquest Racing #36 for the team's full-season driver Sebastian Saavedra, as happened with Junqueira/Tagliani two years ago.

Worryingly, Mann was tweeting that her mobile phone was dead - "Serious dead I-phone-itis!!!" - leading to immediate conspiracy theories that she was making sure no one could reach her with any bad news.

However, Conquest owner Eric Bachelart was quoted as saying on Monday that he had no plans to substitute out Mann: "I hope I never have to do that again," he said. "I really like her. She's done a great job, she's driven under control and been calm under pressure."

It's not clear just how happy the IndyCar sanctioning body will be if the qualification process of Pole Day and Bump Day is undermined by back room deals the day after the grid is meant to be finalised - or what powers they may have to deny driver swaps under the current regulations, if it came to that.

IndyCar may also have safety concerns if drivers who are judged to be too slow and too far off the pace, such as Conway, Saavedra and Dale Coyne's James Jakes, were to get grid spots without "proving" that they were up to the task.




Related Pictures

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Bruno Junqueira during Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 22. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media.]
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Team Mistic E-Cigs KVSH Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 31, 2015, after winning the second of two Verizon IndyCar Series Chevrolet Belle Isle Dual In Detroit races this weekend in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Team Mistic E-Cigs KVSH Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 31, 2015, after winning the second of two Verizon IndyCar Series Chevrolet Belle Isle Dual In Detroit races this weekend in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his pole position Sunday, May 31, 2015 for today`s Verizon IndyCar Series Chevrolet Belle Isle Dual In Detroit, the second of two IndyCar races this weekend in Detroit, Michigan. Qualifying was not completed due to rain and standing water on the track. Montoya captures the pole position based on being the leader in the driver point standings. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his pole position Sunday, May 31, 2015 for today`s Verizon IndyCar Series Chevrolet Belle Isle Dual In Detroit, the second of two IndyCar races this weekend in Detroit, Michigan. Qualifying was not completed due to rain and standing water on the track. Montoya captures the pole position based on being the leader in the driver point standings. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
The podium winners of Carlos Munoz, Marco Andretti, and Simon Pagenaud accept their trophies in the Belle Isle Media Center after the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park - Saturday May 30 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
The podium of Carlos Munoz, Marco Andretti, and Simon Pagenaud with their trophies following Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park after the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park - Saturday May 30 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Team Owner Michael Andretti is flanked by winner Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti following Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park after the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park - Saturday May 30 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The podium of Carlos Munoz, Marco Andretti, and Simon Pagenaud accept their trophies following Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park after the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park - Saturday May 30 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, races to a fourth-place finish Saturday, May 30, 2015, during the the first of two Verizon IndyCar Series Chevrolet Belle Isle Dual In Detroit races this weekend in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates his third-place finish Saturday, May 30, 2015, during the the first of two Verizon IndyCar Series Chevrolet Belle Isle Dual In Detroit races this weekend in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
A special message for James Hinchcliffe during the Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates with team owner Roger Penske after winning the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Accident for Sage Karam on the first lap of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia accident during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson at the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates after the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates after the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens 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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