With eyes glued to the television, headlines popping up everywhere and multiple drivers from the team coming up as trending topics on major social sites such as Twitter, Andretti Autosport has had its fair share of ups and downs for one month—in just a single day.
After only one of the team's drivers, John Andretti, a part time driver for the team, made his spot permanent in the field during Saturday's Pole Day at Indianapolis, they knew Bump Day was going to be stressful.
Starting out with rain, the four drivers of the team that had yet to make the field for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, awaited qualifications to begin again after only two drivers were able to make their runs before the rain hit.
Waiting on the sidelines, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mike Conway and Danica Patrick waited patiently for the track to dry before heading to the line of cars waiting to make their qualifying run.
It was later notified that Danica Patrick's No. 7 car failed tech inspection, sending her to the back of the line, while Andretti, Hunter-Reay and Conway were each able to take a 10 mile trip around the track, though none coming back successful after each found themselves being bumped throughout the day.
As rain approached, Danica Patrick waited in her car, almost to the front of the line. At this point, Andretti and Hunter-Reay were the only ones of the four in the field as Conway had already been bumped without a chance to go back out. When she reached the front of the line, before stepping on the gas, the caution came out, leaving her to shut off the car as rain drenched the race track.
While the rain calmed, and the track began to dry, questions were being raised as to whether or not one of the series' most famous drivers would get a chance to even qualify.
Around 4:45 p.m. drivers began to make their way back to pit lane, all of the four Andretti Autosport drivers included.
Danica Patrick got her chance—and not only did she make the field, she placed herself safely in the 33, in the 26th position.
After a deep sigh of relief she joked, "I said I skipped my thirties and went straight to my forties in age after this weekend." She wasn't as much worried as where she was starting, as she was just happy she made the field. "You can win from anywhere, right?"
"It almost seemed like something just wasn't supposed to happen." She stated, "And we built some drama for Bump Day!"
Following the excitement of Danica's making of the field, Mike Conway went back out for an attempt—failing to find the speed he needed to make it into the field of 33.
In the meantime, Andretti and Hunter-Reay shifted through the line, awaiting a time in which they would have to make another attempt if they were moved to the bubble.
Conway then made a third and final attempt, and failed to make the field for the Indy 500.
After one Andretti Autosport driver did not make the field, Marco Andretti was finally bumped from the field, making it up to him to take the final attempt and ending Bump Day—with the weight of his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay waiting on the bubble resting behind him.
Marco Andretti regained his position in the field, bumping Hunter-Reay from the 33.
"My teammate bumped me out," Hunter-Reay stated in an interview as Andretti pulled off the track, "That's not ideal."
While sadness fell over the two teams of Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay, knowing they would not be racing in the centennial Indianapolis 500, the mood was very different for Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick.
"All we wanted was a chance, I have all the faith in the world in my guys. It was a bummer we were in this position," Andretti said after making it into the field.
A relieved Danica Patrick laughed after the rough day, "I'm going to relax in an adult fashion later."
Team owner Michael Andretti came forward to make comments on the day, "As an owner, it's the worst ever. I just feel so bad."
After such an up and down day, the team had to finally come to terms that only three of its five drivers would be racing next Sunday, a hard thing to take hold of with such a powerful team in the series.
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