SPEEDWAY, IND. (WTHR): this is the reason why the Indianapolis 500 crash issues – or why you should, anyway. This is the reason why the punches, which have not been part of the program since 2011, a year when Ryan Hunter-Reay was hit and only returned when the owner of the team, Michael Andretti, bought a ride from A.J. The team of Foyt, belongs in the run up to this race. I read the arguments for and against, considered both sides, but after seeing the heartbreaking moments of Saturday's qualifying, after seeing one of the stars of IndyCar, James Hinchcliffe, losing the race, confirmed my initial feelings about the topic.  Thirty-five pilots, 35 cars, arrived at Indy with the fervent hope that they were good enough to qualify for the race. Thirty-three made it. As Hinchcliffe said on television shortly after he could not get on the track in time to meet 5:50 p.m. Deadline, "This place can be a cruel lover."
This kind of thing has happened before: in 1993, former champion Bobby Rahal could not qualify. In 1995, two Team Penske drivers, Al Unser, Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi, were eliminated from the field despite their pedigree. In 2011, Hunter-Reay was not fast enough, although, in a move that I really hope will not be repeated here, Andretti bought the qualified car from Bruno Junqueira and drove the race.
Could the Hinchcliffe team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, shoot Jay Howard from the car qualified on Saturday and placed the immensely popular Hinchcliffe in that seat? There is a lot of money on the corner of Hinchcliffe. He has the sponsors. He has the influence. Howard is a unique driver, while Hinchcliffe is fifth in the IndyCar clbadification. There are many important people with full pockets who want to see Hinchcliffe run next Sunday.
I would not like to see it.
But listening to Hinchcliffe on Saturday night after he nobly came and confronted the music of the media after his failure rating, it seems that it will happen. I asked the question, referring to Hunter-Reay's decision, and it sounded a lot like a man who is going to compete next Sunday afternoon.
"I mean, I'm here to compete at the end of the day." & # 39; he said. "I work for Sam [Schmidt] and Rick [Peterson] What Sam and Rick tell me to do, I'll do it, I think there are some options investigated, at this point, I do not know more than you know."
I understand: it is the car that qualifies for the race, not the driver. Then, if Hinchcliffe returns to compete at Indianapolis 500, it will not be against any rule. Penalty fee. But why does he have the Shock Day drama when a team can simply pull a driver out of his car and replace him with another driver who, along with his team, could not do it on the big stage? For me, it smells and goes against everything that is supposed to be the qualification.
"We are not the first big big-name car to go home in this race," said Hinchcliffe, with tears in his eyes. eyes "That's Indy, we finally had crashes again, and everyone was very excited, I'm a little less excited about that than 24 hours ago, but sometimes you have to carry your bags … This place can be a cruel lover."
Hinchcliffe was not fast all day, and after an initial qualifying attempt that found him in the bubble, he slowly slid down the grid. By the time the blows arrived, Hinchcliffe was in trouble, it was a big problem. When Oriol Servia and Conor Daly returned to the pitch, Hinchcliffe tried again.
"There is a very bad vibration," he told his team on the radio during his late qualifying attempt, "A very bad vibration."
He hurriedly returned and tried to return to the line, but had to sit and wait while Alexander Rossi tried (and could not) enter the Fast Nine and then Pippa Mann made a desperate and final race to reach the field. Unfortunately, by mistake, some fans made a gesture with the middle finger to Mann, wondering why he would not mark a yellow race that clearly was not going to be good enough. But as Mann explained later, and he was right about it, you never know if another car could fail in technology, so it only made sense that it ended his career.
If you want to ask about a late career, wonder. about Graham Rahal's offer after he was in 30th place and clearly did not have the speed to advance much on the grid. That is his prerogative, of course, but Hinchcliffe did him no favors.
Then the time ended at 5:50 – it used to be 6 p. M., But the television changed it to allow interviews after the qualification before the television The window closed and Hinchcliffe and his companions dissolved in tears.
When Hinchcliffe came to the Media Center, he was still in anguish, but he thought first of Mann, who was being punished by social network trolls.
"I just want to start, said:" I have not been on the Internet, I have not heard anything on my own, but I heard some things from other people: in no way is Pippa Mann's fault, "he said. our. If there is someone out there who has something bad to say about it, you do not know motor sport. Keep your mouth shut.
"The track was getting a little bit faster, so we were quite optimistic, honestly.As soon as I got out of the pit lane, I felt a horrible vibration.I called it in. Strangely, it started to disappear. I picked up on my tires or something like that, I called the team, I think it's okay, I'm going to keep going. Turn three, everything came back.
"… There are not enough seconds in the day to get our last race. Of course, the car had the speed to be in the show. I mean, it's not the fastest car by any means this month, but we did not expect that. Certainly [fast] enough to be comfortable in the show. "
Hinchcliffe was on the wrong side of Shock Day, but still believes the qualification is better when more than 33 car and driver combinations try to qualify.
" They got their drama, so it worked, "he joked. . " I mean, buddy, you can play the quarterback on Monday morning as much as you want, try to see things that could have been done differently, decisions made by certain people to help the cause. They were not At the end of the day. It's our bad … Everyone has been waiting for a Shock Day. It is part of the tradition of this race, the thrill of this race. Thirty-three cars start, that's the deal. Always has been.
"It sucks to be sitting here saying that right now, the purist in me, the motorsport enthusiast in me thinks this is good for the sport, that's more important than what's good for James Hinchcliffe today. "
He continued." Nobody baded us, "he said." The system did not fail us, they failed us, we just have to do better … "
Ed Carpenter, who qualified second behind Helio Castroneves, believes in the importance of the blows.
"I think that every time there are so many cars, the question is:" Should they all start? "For me, I'm definitely a traditionalist," Carpenter said. "As difficult as seeing a guy like Hinch, who has had incredible moments here, really hard times … I'm sorry for him, I'm sorry for Pippa, we've all worked so hard to be here, I really feel for them."
] "At the same time, Indianapolis, that's part of the appeal of what makes this race so special and important to all of us. Growing up in this event, seeing years in which Team Penske struggled and missed the race, Bobby Rahal missed the race, great teams happened to him … I definitely feel for those teams because we all work just as hard to succeed here. I can not imagine what you are feeling at this moment & # 39; & # 39;
Mann could tell you. After the race, she was inconsolable. And then, when he voluntarily came to talk to the media, his eyes were still red, his voice trembled. His car had been so good on Thursday and Friday. And then on Saturday … nothing.
"It's the worst feeling in the world," he said.
As Hinchliffe knows very well, this can be a cruel place. He almost lost his life on this track. On Saturday he could not qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
Bump Day is important. Unless the owners of the Hinchcliffe team remove Howard from his car and place the most prominent driver in the seat. And then, well, I guess it's really not like that, and this was all a big waste of time.
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