It was the best and worst of times for Michael Andretti at the end of Bump Day, as his joy at seeing son Marco bump his way into the Indy 500 field was tempered by the knowledge that he had just bumped out one of his other Andretti Autosport cars, driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay. While Danica Patrick managed to qualify fairly comfortably, another of the team's cars, driven by Mike Conway, also was bumped out, leaving two of the team's regulars – who are also the past two winners of the Long Beach IndyCar race – sidelined for the biggest race of the year.
“It's so unfortunate, I can't even describe how disappointed I am,” Hunter-Reay said. “If we had gotten this car in the race, we were going to be a contender. This week, this month has been a struggle for Andretti Autosport. We have great racecars; we just wanted to get through this day to fight it out. We've been so fast this year; we've qualified in the front row in half the races (second at Long Beach and Sao Paulo). This one, we just needed to get in the race.”
Conway, this year's Long Beach winner, was bumped out by Paul Tracy after having struggled all week to get up to competitive speed. Electric storms and torrential rain that caused disruption to both practice and qualifying sessions further hindered his progress, and when the track finally re-opened for the final hour of the session, Conway was unable to make a quick enough run during any of his three qualifying attempts.
"It's a tough break – both me and Ryan, not in the show. I'm pretty gutted,” said Conway. “Danica spent some time with me, putting me back together, after I got back to the garage. I'm obviously happy for Danica, Marco and John to be in, but gutted for me and Ryan.
"I never wanted to experience this feeling. You see it happen every year and you hope it's not you.”
“This month, from the moment we unloaded in Indy, we had two fast cars, and we had three slow cars,” conceded Michael Andretti. “We've gone through everything to try to figure it out but we have not figured it out. It's been very frustrating because we can't put our finger on why three of the cars haven't had the speed all month.
“It was probably my worst day as an owner, for sure,” Andretti added. “With four of our five cars competing for the final nine starting spots on Sunday, I knew we could be in a situation where not everyone was going to qualify and, unfortunately, Mike was one of the drivers who didn't make it.”