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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

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Bruno Junqueira during Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 22. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media.]
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag, racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Rain drops on a space nose cone for Ryan Hunter-Reay`s car (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The #28 Andretti Autosport team celebrates victory (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay gets a new ride (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay with the winner`s trophy (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe (left), driver of the #8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, talks with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, during qualifying Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Briscoe qualified fourth, Kanaan second and teammate Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 won the pole. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay sits in his car during a rain delay at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay waits on pitlane prior to practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay with an early pit stop during the Pocono INDYCAR 500 (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads Ryan Briscoe (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag as he races to victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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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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