James Hinchcliffe was the big shock of Bump Day as the man fifth in the championship failed to qualify for the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
The No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport car was first out on track following the first rain delay on Saturday and ended up near the back of the field. Once Oriol Servia managed to get into the 33 after two aborted runs, Hinchcliffe was left on the bubble and Conor Daly then went up to 33rd to bump the Canadian and require him to run again.
Hinchcliffe switched to Lane 1 to gain priority and head out on track – sacrificing his previous speed at the same time – but on his warm-up lap reported a “very, very, very bad vibration” and returned to the pits with a little over 11 minutes remaining in the session.
Pippa Mann was the other car outside of the 33 and ahead of Hinchcliffe in Lane 1 as both tried to prepare their cars for another run, allowing both Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi to head out from Lane 2. That saw the clock tick down and Mann was the final car out before time expired, bumping Hinchcliffe out of the race.
Hinchcliffe – engineered by Leena Gade this season – was on pole two years ago at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but as things stand, will now not race next weekend.
“It’s devastating in every way possible,” Hinchcliffe said. “We got in the lane there, we got a tire vibration and I’m not entirely sure what the problem was. It’s one of those things – Indy is a cruel mistress sometimes, the highest of highs and lowest of lows.
“Everybody at SPM worked their tails off to get these cars ready. We have three cars in the show, unfortunately the fourth one didn’t make it but win as a team, lose as a team. It’s [strange] to be here after where we were two years ago, but we’ll put our heads down, we’ll take a look at it, and we’ll learn from this experience.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, for sure. I’m disappointed. The Arrow car is fast enough to be in the show, no doubt about it. We’ve got one of the best crews on pit lane. It’s a big blow, for sure.”
Asked what has change from two years ago aside from the new aerokits, Hinchcliffe replied: “There’s a lot of things, year to year, it’s different.
“What matters is we came here with the expectations and high hopes, and we knew over the month that we didn’t have maybe Fast Nine speed, but we certainly didn’t worry about being out of the show. We had a bit of a problem in our first run. The second run looks the track was getting a little bit cooler, a little bit quicker, but we had that problem.
“Honestly, in the car, I thought the gun went at 6, so I wasn’t really worried about it. We just didn’t get out in front of Pippa (Mann) there. It’s the rules. It’s how it goes. We’re not the first big name, big car to go home in this race. That’s Indy. We finally have bumping again, which everybody was super-thrilled about. I’m a little less thrilled about it than I was 24 hours ago. You’ve got to take your lumps here sometimes.”