For the second time in three years, Bruno Junqueira has been bumped from the Indianapolis 500 the day after Bump Day.
A.J. Foyt Racing and Andretti Autosport have reached an agreement to replace Bruno with Ryan Hunter-Reay.
"We’ve been competitors for many years but still it’s the kind of relationship when someone is really down and out, you can’t turn your back on them—at least I can’t,” said team onwer A.J. Foyt. “This is going back to the way racing used to be, where if people were in a lot of trouble, you tried to help each other out. I know it’s a tough deal for Bruno but he understood the situation. I appreciate that more than anyone knows.”
Hunter-Reay was bumped from the field when his teammate, Marco Andretti, took to the track with 1-minute before the gun for the last qualifying attempt of the day.
Junqueira was in a similar situation in 2009 when his teammate at Conquest Racing, Alex Tagliani, failed to make the field of 33. The following day team owner Eric Bachelart replaced Bruno with Alex.
“I have to thank A.J., Larry and the team for giving me this opportunity to drive at Indy this year because otherwise I would have been riding my bike in Miami," said Junqueira. "I always respected A.J. before, but after working with him, I respect him even more. He has a lot of knowledge and I learned a lot from him. I had a great time working with him and Vitor, and I hope my work helped them this month. I also hope the team has a great race.”
Moving from the #28 to the #41, Hunter-Reay will move to the back of the 33-car field.
“There has been an incredible range of emotion these past few days," Hunter-Reay said. "Commercial decisions and corporate support is what makes it possible for both of our teams to compete and this was a commercially driven decision. I am an IndyCar driver and I’m also a representative for DHL, Dr Pepper and its brands, including Sun Drop Citrus Soda. I know this is not the first time this has happened in Indy 500 history but I feel terrible for Bruno and I thank him for his efforts and I hope he understands. It’s cool to be driving for A.J. again, especially with Michael’s support and encouragement. This is not how I envisioned the month of May this year but we are still committed to winning this race for DHL and Sun Drop.”
The addition of Hunter-Reay to the field leaves just one Andretti Autosport driver rideless come next Sunday, Mike Conway. Conway's attempt to drive in his third consecutve Indianapolis 500 is still alive hower as talks are currently underway to perform a similar deal with another team.
UPDATE: Now Tuesday night, it appears a deal to put Conway into the race is extremely unlikely.