Late Monday, Bruno Junqueira confirmed to RACER the speculation that he would stand down for this weekend's Indianapolis 500 in favor of Ryan Hunter-Reay. The Brazilian expressed sadness but resignation about the deal between Andretti Autosport and A.J. Foyt Racing by which Hunter-Reay – who was bumped out of the lineup in the final moments on Bump Day – will take over Junqueira's entry. Under Indy 500 rules, such a change would mean Foyt's No. 41 would forfeit its 19th-place starting spot and have to start at the back of the field.
"I certainly didn't go to Indy this year thinking that I might lose the ride. I appreciated that A.J. Foyt hired me for my driving and what I could bring to the team," said Junqueira. "At least I was hired as a professional; it wasn't the usual thing of knocking on doors saying, 'Hello, do you need a driver?' and them saying to me, 'How much money can you bring?' A.J. wanted me and hired me. Like I say, it was a proper professional contract.
"So, I really do appreciate the faith that A.J. put in me and that he let me qualify his car and I got to drive around Indy again. I think I did a good job; I think I helped the team improve, even though it was a much deeper field this year. When two Andretti Autosport cars did not qualify, I did wonder. If Marco or Danica had been in the non-qualifiers, I thought there would have definitely been a possibility that I might lose my ride. With Hunter-Reay, I wasn't so sure. I guess I know now!"
Junqueira said the first he knew about the situation was Monday afternoon.
"They [Foyt and Michael Andretti] set up a meeting and just before it, I was told what it would be about and they asked what my reaction would be if I was asked to stand down. I said, '“Well, of course, I would like to race the Indy 500, but if the team decides it is better for them to sell the place on the grid…' What can I say? Of course, I am not going to race for a team that might be thinking it would be better if they had someone else there. So about an hour ago they tell me the deal is done.
"I will watch the race from home with my son, and we will cheer for my friend Vitor Meira. Yes, of course, I am disappointed, but I'm most sad of all that the rules allow this to happen. It's strange and sad."
Assuming it goes ahead, this will be the second time in three years that Junqueira has had to give up a spot in the 500, having been replaced in his qualified car by his Conquest Racing teammate Alex Tagliani, polesitter for this year's race, when the Canadian's sponsored car got bumped out of the 2009 race.
Tagliani repaid his friend by giving him a ride in a second FAZZT car in last year's race. Asked if he would be expecting to receive a similar favor from Andretti or Foyt in 2012, Junqueira said, "We'll see."