INDIANAPOLIS – Okay race fans, it’s time to get real confusing here. At 5:50 p.m. ET, you witnessed the agony of defeat from two Verizon IndyCar Series drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Both Pippa Mann and James Hinchcliffe didn’t qualify for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network). But, what if I told you that there’s a possibility at least one of them could still in fact race?
While Hinchcliffe is a DNQ at the moment, there are deals being explored that could put Hinchcliffe back in car as soon as Sunday. Here’s how.
The car and the car only is qualified at the moment. The speed are all wiped away and will be redone on Sunday afternoon. So, in theory, any of the 33 drivers could be replaced by Hinchcliffe or Mann. In terms of Hinch, he’s a full-time driver and needs points. The Indy 500 is a double point event. If he doesn’t race, his championship hopes are as good as done.
Plus, his sponsor Arrow and his team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports are already willing to fork out some cash to get him in a car that’s already in. Well, it just so happens that one of their cars driven by Jay Howard is a part-time one-off entry. He’s not going for points. What is SPM and Arrow offer Howard and his team of people some money for Hinchcliffe to drive that car instead? What if SPM works out a sweet deal for Howard like Andretti Autosport did with Stefan Wilson last year when he gave up his seat a month before the Indy 500 for Fernando Alonso to drive. Andretti told Wilson he’d have a car in 2018 if he would. They honored that commitment.
What if SPM gives Howard a 2019 seat now? What if they give him a ton of cash too? While Howard initially said no money could change his mind, maybe the greater good of the team can.
Hinchcliffe is open to it.
“I mean, I’m here to race at the end of the day,” Hinchcliffe said in his press conference. “I work for Sam and Rick. Whatever Sam and Rick tell me to do I’ll do. I believe there’s some options being investigated. At this point I don’t know any more than you do.”
I have also confirmed with INDYCAR officials that if Hinchcliffe is to hop into another car before qualifying tomorrow, not only can he qualify that car, he can start where he qualifies too. So, it’s in the greater good for them to quickly find a deal because he’d not have to start last either.