Tagliani replaces Junqueira for 500UPDATE "I'm not happy with the situation and obviously it's very upsetting but I think Eric must have had some big money reasons to do it," said Junqueira late Sunday evening.
Bruno Junqueira got screwed but took the news professionally
"I put my butt on the line today, did a good job and was very happy because Alex and I were both in the race. Now I don't feel very happy."
Tagliani got bumped by Ryan Hunter-Reay as the clock expired on time trials and Bachelart said late Sunday it was the worst possible situation.
"I felt so good to have two good drivers in the field and then I couldn't believe what happened in the last 10 minutes of qualifying," said Bachelart, referring to the flurry of bumping.
"We've had some sponsors following Tag all season, the Rexall people from Edmonton are coming to the race and we've got some other deals working and we were going to have to sacrifice Alex to keep Bruno in the car.
"So I went to Bruno and said I had a huge favor to ask him. I was sick to my stomach about it and he was very professional. I offered him compensation and I told him I'll do everything I can to put him in a car again some day. He was totally outstanding today and I am so impressed with him." SPEEDTV.com
05/17/09 Conquest Racing announced late Sunday night that they will be replacing Bruno Junqueira aboard the #36 Conquest entry with the team’s primary driver Alex Tagliani for this year's Indianapolis 500. The following are statements from the drivers and team principal.
Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing Team Owner “We had the chance to qualify two excellent drivers today. Unfortunately we didn’t have the same fate for both entries despite excellent work from everyone on the team. Bruno has once again shown the world how talented a driver he is and we truly appreciate the work he has done for us in this short amount of time and thank him for his excellent work. Alex didn’t make the show and it wasn’t for a lack of speed or a fault of his own. He simply fell victim to exceptional circumstances. That’s how the magic of Indy works sometimes; it can be good or bad. We’ve been working with Alex for a long time now and have built our commercial and marketing program around him. He has been our primary driver since the start of the season and we felt that it was in the best interest of the team and our partners to have him in the car for the Indy 500 as we continue to build our future together.”
Bruno Junqueira “I want to thank the team and ALL SPORT/BIG RED for giving me the opportunity to qualify their car today. I was able to go fast right from the start despite not having a lot of practice and that was very rewarding for myself. I really enjoyed working with Conquest Racing, they gave me a really good car and hopefully I can work with them again the future. It’s a shame that Alex got bumped out of the field at the end. I knew coming into this that Alex is Conquest’s primary driver and that if something happened to the first car that I would likely give him my place and I completely understand it.”
Alex Tagliani, driver “I want to first of all say thank you to Bruno for being so understanding and to the team for taking this decision. We have been building this long-term relationship for a while now and I’m more than thrilled to be able to pursue that by taking part in my first Indy 500. Obviously it would have been much sweeter if we would have had both cars in the show because Bruno and I had fast and identical cars. It’s pretty much a fluke that I didn’t make the field. We just got caught out. You never want to second-guess yourself but if we had to redo things we probably would do it differently, but now that is in the past. At the end of the day, I’m just really happy right now to be realizing my dream of running in the Indy 500. The team has worked so hard all month and they deserve to be here.”
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