Marco Andretti bumps his way back into the Indianapolis 500
Bump Day provided more drama than a Hollywood script writer Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But for Andretti Autosport, Bump Day provided the ultimate irony.
All weekend Andretti Autosport, long one of IndyCar’s top teams, had been struggling to find speed for all of its race cars. Five entries in all, but by Sunday morning, only John Andretti had managed to go fast enough to make the race, which meant the team would have its work cut out on Bump Day in order to get its cars in the race.
Andretti troubles were highlighted by IndyCar’s biggest attraction, Danica Patrick, another Andretti Autosport team driver almost having her weekend completely washed out.
Another round of heavy rain came down on Sunday afternoon, leaving many to wonder if there would be enough time for Indy’s marketing champion to make the field. But with just over an hour remaining, the track finally dried out enough to give Danica another chance to make the race.
And make it she did, turning a couple of laps over 225 mph, resulting in an average more than fast enough to make the field, meaning an IndyCar PR disaster had been averted.
But an hour later, and less than a minute to go before Bump Day qualifications would officially end, Andretti Autosport would find itself in one of the most awkward positions possible - one teammate faced with having to eliminate another.
Marco Andretti, the son of the owner, Michael Andretti, and grandson of the legendary Mario Andretti had just been bumped from the race by Alex Lloyd, which meant that Marco, with time running out, would have to either take out teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, with a fast speed, or risk missing the race himself.
True to his Andretti genes, Marco came through in the end, posting the days fourth fastest speed to make the race.
But for Michael Andretti, cheering on his son meant losing one of his other drivers, a painful experience indeed. It would be especially so since not long before that, Andretti saw another one of his drivers, Mike Conway, fail to make the race as well.
Interviewed immediately afterward, Andretti called Sunday’s Bump Day one of the worst experiences he’s ever at Indianapolis’ historic oval.