Where do I even start?
For years, fans of IndyCar have complained that Bump Day wasn’t legitimate anymore, they wanted that drama and pressure back. As the Month of May drew nearer and nearer, it became clear that we would have one this season. 35 entries and only 33 grid positions. What became apparent yesterday though, was that many seemed to forget that a bump day applies to everyone in the field – including the full-time, championship contenders.
That reality came to fruition, when fan-favorite and arguably one of the most well-known current Verizon IndyCar Series drivers, James Hinchcliffe, was bumped from contention for the Indianapolis 500.
We saw two rain delays over the 7 hour qualifying stretch yesterday. Hinchcliffe was the first to go out when the track opened back up after the first delay. Many of us, myself included, assumed that his slower lap speeds in the No. 5 Arrow SPM Honda were due to the track conditions and him being the first one out there after the rain. Turns out that was not the issue,
“Tragically the first run we did, we did find a problem with the car. We know exactly what took the speed away we had yesterday. That being rectified, we kind of expected, the margin not being super big from our previous runs to get in the show, we were sort of expecting a bit of a jump in pace. I think Jack did a pretty decent jump in pace on his second run. He had a similar problem to myself.
Yeah, pretty confident. It’s one of those weird situations where for it being after 5:00 on Bump Day and being out of the show, we were still actually relatively okay with it. We had confidence in the package that we had at that time.”
So what happened? According to Hinchcliffe, it was a failed tire pressure sensor.
“As soon as I left pit lane, I felt a horrible vibration. Called it in. Weirdly, it started to go away. I thought I had some pickup on my tires or something. I called into the team, ‘I think it’s all right, I’m going to keep going.’ Turn three, it all came back again. It was violent.
Came in, we have since diagnosed a tire pressure sensor failure, kind of broke off the rim, was rattling around inside the car, which at 200 plus miles an hour doesn’t feel good. I think we had to come in. If we had to stay out, good chance we would have gotten tire failure, we would not be in the show, have a broken race car.”
Saturday was a perfect storm for Hinchcliffe and the reality of bump day has taken one of IndyCar’s most personable drivers out of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing… ironically, in a spectacle of it’s own making. That said, I found his composure and acceptance extremely commendable when he addressed the media at the end of the day. He could have been mad, felt cheated, but instead he stressed that this was on him and his team, saying that they win together and they lose together. He also made it a point, off the bat actually, that there was no blame to be placed. Especially on fellow competitor, Pippa Mann, who was in line in front of Hinch and on track when the gun went off at 5:50 p.m.
“I just want to first start off by saying, I haven’t been on the Internet, heard anything myself, but heard some stuff from other people. This is in no way Pippa Mann’s fault. This is our fault. If there’s anybody out there that has anything bad to say about that, you don’t know motorsports. Keep your mouth shut.”
There you have it. Hinchcliffe is a class act. We are lucky to have him in this series but as things stand, he will not be in the ‘big show’ a week from today.
There are rumors circulating that perhaps SPM Racing and Arrow will put him the No. 7 car of Jay Howard, but there has not been anything released as of yet, to support that line of thinking. If something changes, I will be sure to let you know, so keep tabs via my social media links below.