For the first time in seven years, the Indy 500 had a proper Bump Day qualifying session. Shockingly, series regular, championship contender, and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe was one of the drivers (along with Pippa Mann) who missed the cut.
Now, because at the Indy 500 it’s the car and not the driver who qualifies, there’s a possibility that a team could ask one of its other drivers to give up their spot to get a non-qualifying driver in the race – it’s how Ryan Hunter-Reay made the field in 2011 after losing out on Bump Day. There have been suggestions that Jack Harvey (who’s racing an SPM car run by Michael Shank Racing in select races this year) could be at risk of missing out in order to get Hinchcliffe back in the field.
We asked Harvey if he was worried about a deal being done that would see him get replaced by Hinchcliffe and it’s fair to say the answer is no. He told WTF1:
“Oh no! If that conversation had even taken place… I mean there would have been no amount of money that they could have offered us to take me out of my seat. We have no contractual obligations to do it. Frankly, we’re trying to build our own programme and have put a lot of hard work and effort into this.
“Naturally the question was going to come up at some point, but the answer before they even tried to ask was ‘don’t even bother asking – you can’t even write a big enough cheque and the answer is still no’. But honestly, it wasn’t about the money because we’ve got two massive companies sponsoring our car that don’t need the money. If they wanted to they could do more with us so it wasn’t about the money, we just want to be in the race.”
Well, that’s pretty clear isn’t it!
Harvey added that he did feel bad for Hinchcliffe and said that Bump Day was the most stressful day of his racing career:
“We were sweating as much as James was, really! One of the reasons we’re so nervous on bump day is because that’s the reality. Penske has missed it before, Hunter-Reay has missed it before, a lot of good drivers have missed it and it sucks. You put all that effort in, something random happens and then you bet bumped and you’re like, ‘shit, this is real!’
“The stress on qualifying day was a nightmare. Honestly, it’s probably the most stressful day I’ve ever had at a track. I was obviously really happy that we’d made it, but in the same breath, I was really disappointed for James and for SPM on the whole. Because it’s not just him, it’s all of his team, all his mechanics, all his engineers. It’s not just the driver putting in the hard work, you have a whole team of people who are just as gutted not to be there as he was.”
Harvey made it through Bump Day in 27th place before going on to qualify 31st, but is optimistic for the race.
“We didn’t qualify as well as we’d hoped to, but I think we’ve got a pretty good car. All the guys are doing now is prepping it – strip it, rebuild it, nut and bolt check it, send it. I hope it’ll all be good come race day!”