Mexico will be without a representative on this year’s Indianapolis 500 starting grid after Michel Jourdain Jr earned the ignominious ‘Bump Day’ honour of being the sole driver to fail to qualify for this year’s famous oval race.
The former Champ Car racewinner made a surprise comeback to the US open-wheel racing scene last year, and returned for another bite of the cherry in a third entry run by the famous Rahal Letterman Lanigan stable.
Hopes were high that he could improve on his 19th-placed finish earned last year, but this year he will have to watch the team’s two full-time entries compete from the sidelines.
The poor performance of the RLL squad was one of several storylines that have garnered plenty of column inches as the build-up to this year’s race continues.
While the team’s oval specialist James Jakes avoided the potentially fraught ‘Bump Day’ antics with the eighteenth-fastest effort, teammate Graham Rahal had to endure another round of qualifying, going second-fastest of the remaining ten entrants hoping to squeeze onto the 33-car field.
Until the final 48 hours, Jourdain would have qualified for the race regardless, but the late signing of Katherine Legge into a third Schmidt Peterson Hamilton entry pushed the entry list to 34 cars, meaning that one unlucky driver wouldn’t make it any further.
Jourdain hadn’t been remotely on the pace in any of the preceding practice sessions, and resorting to the set-ups used by his stablemates just made things worse. He abandoned his qualifying effort with 20 minutes of the session to run.
“This morning we tried James Jakes’ set-up, and it was impossible to drive. And then we tried Graham’s set-up, but it felt exactly the same and we couldn’t drive it,” he shrugged afterwards.
His issues ensured that Legge – who drove part-time for the Dragon Racing squad last year and was sensationally sacked during the off-season – would make the grid, claiming the final spot in the field alongside fellow back-row starters Buddy Lazier and IndyCar debutante Conor Daly.
Legge was gracious in her celebrations, and empathised with Jourdain’s plight.
“It’s not nice for him to not have the opportunity. However I am happy I am in the field, I’m not going to lie about that. I’m going to sleep tonight for the first time in a few days,” she said.
“I feel really bad for Michel. I can’t even think what’s going through his head. I’m gutted for him.”
2013 IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Final Qualifying Results:
|Driver||Entry / Team||‘Pole Day’ Result|
|1.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||228.762mph|
|2.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport||228.342mph|
|3.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||228.261mph|
|4.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela / Andretti||228.150mph|
|5.||A.J. Allmendinger||Team Penske||228.099mph|
|6.||Will Power||Team Penske||228.087mph|
|7.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||227.904mph|
|8.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||227.762mph|
|9.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||227.070mph|
|10.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||227.441mph|
|11.||Alex Tagliani||Barracuda Racing||227.386mph|
|12.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology||226.949mph|
|13.||Oriol Servià||Panther / Dreyer & Reinbold||226.814mph|
|14.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing||226.370mph|
|15.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing||226.196mph|
|16.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||226.159mph|
|17.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing||226.069mph|
|18.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises||226.892mph|
|19.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||225.880mph|
|20.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||225.809mph|
|21.||Simon Pagenaud||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing||225.674mph|
|22.||Townsend Bell||Panther Racing||225.643mph|
|23.||Ryan Briscoe||Chip Ganassi Racing||225.265mph|
|24.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology||225.226mph|
|Driver||Entry / Team||‘Bump Day’ Result|
|25.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing||225.731mph|
|26.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||225.007mph|
|27.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing||224.929mph|
|28.||Tristan Vautier||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing||224.873mph|
|29.||Ana Beatriz||Dale Coyne Racing||224.184mph|
|30.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing||224.005mph|
|31.||Conor Daly||AJ Foyt Enterprises||223.582mph|
|32.||Buddy Lazier||Lazier Partners Racing||223.442mph|
|33.||Katherine Legge||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing||223.176mph|
|Did Not Qualify|
|DNQ.||Michel Jourdain Jr||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||No Attempt|