Barring “unforseen circumstances,” James Hinchcliffe won’t be racing in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
The popular driver was one of two who failed to qualify for the race last weekend. Hinchcliffe’s failure to qualify came as a huge surprise as he was forced to abort what turned out to be his final qualifying attempt because of a vibration in the car.
Wednesday, Hinchcliffe said it his Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports team had stopped looking for a qualified driver to buy out of his ride.
“Barring unforeseen circumstances I will not be racing in the Indy 500 this year. The decision was made to stop pursuing options to get us in the race. There really arent words to describe how missing this race feels. At the end of the day we simply didn’t get the job done. No excuses. This is our reality and we will face it head on, we will use it as motivation and we will come back stronger. We have a great team, incredible partners and the best fans, all who have been so supportive through this. I’m sorry we can’t be on track for you Sunday, but we will be pushing hard for the wins in Detroit. I wish all 33 drivers a fast and safe race. I’ll be watching and cheering on my SPM teammates. See you in Detroit.”
While it’s not universally-accepted practice, ride-buying is not uncommon between qualifying and the Indianapolis 500 if a highly-funded driver missed the race a the expense of a faster but part-time team. It’s happened in NASCAR as well. Michael Waltrip once drove Derrike Cope’s car in the Coca-Cola 600 after he missed out on the race.
But teams’ and driver’s ride-buying options are typically limited. Hinchcliffe drives a Honda and has become a relatively well-known spokesperson for the company given his 2016 Dancing With The Stars appearance. So he had to be in a Honda, which eliminated anyone driving a Chevrolet. He also wouldn’t be able to replace anyone else competing the full season in the IndyCar Series and teams who hired a driver because that driver brought a sponsor aren’t too willing to break that contract.
Thus, Hinchcliffe is out of a ride for the biggest open-wheel race of the year.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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