Andretti and Hunter-Reay finalise Indianapolis 500 grid
18 May 2009 – John Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay drove their way into the 2009 Indianapolis 500 with last-gasp attempts on Bump Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Taking advantage of improved conditions over Third-Day Qualifying on May 16, several drivers withdrew their times to avoid the bubble. Tomas Scheckter, Mike Conway, E.J. Viso, Nelson Philippe and Milka Duno all pulled this gamble off successfully and managed to move to safer times, while Bruno Junqueira had little trouble making the cut on his first run of the month.
Andretti, who began the day in the field, got bumped midway through the day by Junqueira, who was making his first qualifying attempt with Conquest Racing, then struggled to find speed on two qualifying attempts.
With just 15 minutes of the session remaining, Andretti, Barrett and Lazier were all outside the field, and Hunter-Reay had been pushed back onto the bubble again.
Andretti was first to try to snatch Hunter-Reay's grid spot, but his four-lap average was too slow to bump the Vision Racing car from the field. Barrett and Lazier then made last-ditch efforts to qualify, before both waved off their runs after poor first laps.
Their quick decisions to abandon their attempts allowed Andretti to go back out again with eight minutes to go - and on his final attempt, he earned a spot in his 10th Indianapolis 500, posting a four-lap average speed of 221.316 to bump Hunter-Reay. Andretti has qualified every time he has participated in month of May activities.
Hunter-Reay was able to rebound, too, posting a speed of 220.597 to edge Alex Tagliani by a few hundredths of a second. That put Tagliani alongside Stanton Barrett and former "500" winner Buddy Lazier as non-qualifiers for this year's race.
For the day, nine drivers combined to make 12 qualifying attempts, resulting in seven bumps.
The 33-driver field is the closest-matched by time in the history of the Indianapolis 500. Just 3.0967 seconds separate the cumulative four-lap qualifying times of polesitter Helio Castroneves and Hunter-Reay.