Rahal Letterman Lanigan will be left with just its two full-time drivers Graham Rahal and James Jakes in the Indianapolis 500 after its third entry for Michel Jourdain Jr. was the surprise Bump Day casualty.
The Mexican finally abandoned his efforts to make the field with just under 20 minutes of track time remaining. The RLL team had spent the day in a fruitless hunt for enough speed to secure a spot on the grid, having struggled all week to get up to speed.
"Right away, I didn't feel the car very well, but when you're only driving once a year, it's just so hard to know," admitted Jourdain. "It's just a 'feel' thing – and some days it feels really well and getting a little better every day and it was just a low point.
"This morning, we tried James [Jakes]' setup. He was the fastest of the three cars, and coming out of Turn 4 first lap I almost spun, and I felt this car isn't drivable. We put Graham in the car with his exact same setup and everything, steering wheel is in, everything, you know. It was impossible for him to feel a difference. Just couldn't drive it. He came in, got the 204 and he said, 'I'm not going any faster.'
"So we went back and changed the things we had time to change, which was the floor, front wing, but as soon as I came in, the car was the same. I thought, well, the only thing if we keep trying would be to do something stupid and put the car in the wall, not make the race anyway, so there's no point in that."
The appearance of Katherine Legge in the third Schmidt entry for the first time pushed the entry list above the 33-car limit, meaning that one car would not make the cut. Despite having missed out on the entire week of practice, Legge managed to post a four-lap average of 223.176mph to earn herself a place in the field, but expressed her sympathy for Jourdain's plight.
"I was kind of hoping for him that he would because it's always nicer when it's a fair fight, safe to say," said Legge. "Then I could see Buddy [Lazier] would be on the bubble and then it would have been a hell of a Bump Day. As it is we created a ton of drama. But it's never nice to see somebody not get the opportunity to go out there and do that. So, I feel very bad for him."
Buddy Lazier, winner of the 1996 Indy 500, shared the exhilaration of making the cut in his one-off, family-run entry.
"It's really about the team," he said. "They did a great job. Very small amount of time. A lot of hard work, a lot of heart. We were sweating today. The temperature was going up, everybody was struggling.
"[The DW12] is a great car, but it's a huge learning curve. We never were trying to qualify on the pole, so we've been doing a lot of three-quarter tank runs. We think we have a pretty good racecar."
Indianapolis 500 starting lineup:
1. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.3689 (228.762mph)
2. (26) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.6581 (228.342)
3. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.7139 (228.261)
4. (5) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.7907 (228.150)
5. (2) AJ Allmendinger, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.8264 (228.099)
6. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.8342 (228.087)
7. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.9614 (227.904)
8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy 02:38.0596 (227.762)
9. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy 02:38.5411 (227.070)
10. (4) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 02:38.2830 (227.441)
11. (98) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 02:38.3209 (227.386)
12. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 02:38.6260 (226.949)
13. (22) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 02:38.7206 (226.814)
14. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.0318 (226.370)
15. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 02:39.1543 (226.196)
16. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.1808 (226.158)
17. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.2434 (226.069)
18. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.3681 (225.892)
19. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.3768 (225.880)
20. (16) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.4268 (225.809)
21. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.5219 (225.674)
22. (60) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Chevy, 02:39.5438 (225.643)
23. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.8117 (225.265)
24. (78) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 02:39.8398 (225.226)
25. (21) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.4816 (225.731)
26. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 02:39.9948 (225.007)
27. (6) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 02:40.0503 (224.929)
28. (55) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 02:40.0907 (224.873)
29. (18) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 02:40.5823 (224.184)
30. (63) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda, 02:40.7109 (224.005)
31. (41) Conor Daly, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.0145 (223.582)
32. (91) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Chevy, 02:41.1158 (223.442)
33. (81) Katherine Legge, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.3079 (223.176)