A heartbroken Pippa Mann addressed the assembled media Saturday evening after failing to qualify her No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda and did her best to recount the tearful circumstances that led to being bumped from the field of 33.
“Coming into this May, I knew things were going to be tough,” she said. “I normally get time in an IndyCar once a year. With a new aero package, not getting to do any of the testing ahead of time because we don’t have a budget that allows for that. All of the people who have supported me to be here, Dale Coyne Racing, the entire crew on my car, worked so hard to turn that car over from a road course car to an oval car so we could shake it down, get me through my refresher on Tuesday.
“Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll be honest with you, we thought things were going pretty well. The car handled great. It was really good. It was pretty good in traffic. We thought things were rolling along pretty nicely. The no-tow reports, they looked fine.
“Then yesterday morning, I rolled out, 226[mph] out of the box. Great, this isn’t bad. Now let’s trim the car. Went through it again, nothing. That’s when we started to realize we might really be in trouble. We tried everything we could think of yesterday. The boys stayed really, really late last night. We pulled the rack off the car, we resanded the car, resanded the floor. We went through all the brakes again because we thought we had some brakes that were dragging a little bit out.”
After many hours of work leading into Bump Day, Mann felt everything possible had been done to get her car into the race.
“I knew if everything we did last night still hadn’t made us go faster, we were going to be in trouble today,” she said. “But you have to try and get out there anyway. When we got back in line for the last run, we took every single trim we could possibly could to the racecar, we did everything.
“Obviously it wasn’t enough. What’s worse, it was slower than our time before. Once you pulled your time, if the car is still functioning, you kind of have to finish the run because what if somebody in front of me just didn’t get through tech and I withdrew and didn’t complete my run and pulled off the racetrack?
“It’s the worst feeling in the world. The team worked so hard. Earlier today I really thought we were going to get it done. Then we went out, again, for the first run and I knew we were in the fight in final trim. We took it further than any of our cars have gone. If we understood what was going on, we wouldn’t be here.”