Despite another crash during morning practice, Tony Kanaan was able to secure a place in the Indy 500 during Bump Day at Indianapolis but a late gamble failed to pay off for Paul Tracy - who was one of four drivers who will miss the race.

Kanaan secured his place in the event along with Takuma Sato, Mario Romancini, John Andretti, Sarah Fisher, Vitor Meira, Alex Lloyd and Bruno Junqueira but the real drama revolved around the 33rd and final slot on the grid.

Rookie driver Sebastian Saavedra looked like missing out on taking his place in the race when he crashed out of the session with more than an hour left to run, with the teenager being transported to Methodist Hospital for checks after contact with the SAFER barrier at turn one.

Quick laps from Romancini and Sato had left Tracy on the bubble in 33rd place in the closing stages of the session which left Jay Howard, Saavedra, Milka Duno and Jaques Lazier as the drivers who would see their hopes come to an end.

Although Howard failed to go quicker than Tracy, the Canadian elected to withdraw his qualifying time in an attempt to secure a better time. However, the first two laps of his four lap run weren't good enough and there wasn't time to go out on track again which brought to an end his participation in the race.

"The decision to withdraw our time and re-qualify was a team decision," he said. "We win as a team and lose as a team. I just feel bad for the whole team. They worked so hard and I feel bad for my sponsors, GEICO, Monster and everyone. It is heartbreaking.

"The frustrating part is that was quick in the cold temperatures. I was second fastest on Thursday with a 226 and ran 225 this morning. But when it heated up, we just lost the handling and could never get the speed back. It wasn't for a lack of trying. The team tried everything. We just could not get the balance on my car when we really needed it.

"It cuts deep. All the preparation to get ready for this. It's a hard blow. It's going to be a long drive home in the motor home."

Tracy's failure to improve his time had promoted Howard back into the race in 33rd but the Sarah Fisher Racing driver withdrew his time in an attempt to solidify his position in the race in case Tracy did have time to go out on track again.

Amazingly Howard too failed to improve his time which meant he lost his place on the grid.

"A lot of people have asked the question whose decision it was to go out on the last run and was it a mistake," he said. "The answer is that we will never know, and I, as well as the team, believed that we could get the car in the show with no problem.

"Obviously we were mistaken, but we couldn't sit by and let Tracy go out because he would have been faster than us for sure. I'm really disappointed, especially for Service Central, but we all did our best. As long as we learn from our experienced we can move forwards."

The decision by Howard and Tracy to withdraw their times ultimately led to Saavedra being bumped back into the race, with the 19-year-old Colombian receiving the news while waiting for an MRI scan in hospital.

The results of those tests were negative and he will fill the final place on the grid for the race next weekend.

"I had just turned on the television in my hospital room and I saw an interview with Bryan [Herta] and my crew jumping up and down," he said. "My family starting jumping in celebration. This is wonderful for me and my country. I'm still trying to process it. I want to thank Bryan Herta Autosport and William Rast for believing in me and making my dream come true.

"I had a sharp pain my upper back, but the MRI came back clean. I'll have a big bruise, but it's all good."

 

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