A reader adds, At the very least, Michael Andretti should give Bruno Junqueira a ride at Las Vegas in an attempt at the $5M bonus and Randy Bernard should see that it happens. Russell Mill
05/24/11 The following are additional comments from Ryan Hunter-Reay and Michael Andretti regarding Monday's announcement of Hunter-Reay's assignment to the No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing entry.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Driver:
(ON RUNNING IN THE INDY 500) "Am I happy to have the chance to run in the Indy 500? Sure, but this isn't at all how I wanted it to happen. I have the utmost respect for the Indianapolis 500, but this is not the way I wanted things to pan out. I'm in the race, but I'm not going to celebrate. This race has a legacy and tradition that is undeniable. The reality is our car didn't qualify and now I'm racing in the #41.
"I'm still very disappointed in the way our weekend turned out, but Andretti Autosport and A.J. Foyt Racing need me on Sunday, and I'm going to be ready to go."
(ON BRUNO JUNQUEIRA) "I feel awful for Bruno. He did a great job getting the 41 car into the field and I know how disappointed he must be to not be driving it on Sunday. I have a lot of respect for Bruno as a driver and as a person."
(HOW DID THIS DEAL BETWEEN ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT AND A.J. FOYT RACING DEVELOP?) "I guess our team approached A.J. after we got bumped from the field at the end of the day on Sunday. I didn't talk to anybody about it until my team came to me after their initial meeting with A.J. That was the first I knew of it."
(HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO FANS THAT ARE UPSET BY THIS MOVE?) "I understand their passion for the Indy 500 and I hope they understand that I am just the driver. And, my job is to drive when and where I'm told to drive. I don't determine things like this. The team needs me in the car this Sunday and I'm going to give it everything I've got.
"Again, I feel terrible for Bruno. But, really, this is not about me and Bruno. This is about our teams and those who support our teams all season long."
Michael Andretti, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer:
(ON THE DECISION TO APPROACH A.J. FOYT RACING ABOUT THE #41 ENTRY) "When Sunday was over, we needed to find a way to take care of our sponsors - the same sponsors that get us to the racetrack every race, all season long, and keep the lights on at our shop. Without them, we don't exist. So, it wasn't a tough decision from that perspective. We had to figure out a Plan B. Not getting them into the Indy 500 was not an option.
"Ryan is a huge part of each of those sponsor programs, and from the sponsors' perspective, it was important that he still be representing them in the Indy 500.
"A.J. also knows Ryan can get the job done on Sunday and that was a big part of this. They've worked together before and A.J. knows what Ryan is capable of. That made it an easier option for both of us."
(ON THE PERCEPTION FROM SOME FANS THAT THIS IS THE WRONG THING TO DO) "The fastest 33 cars are what qualify for the Indy 500 and that's always been the case. We're not doing anything that changes that. This has happened before. One of the greatest finishes in Indy 500 history, in 1992, involved a car that had a driver change before the race. Scott Goodyear replaced Mike Groff and Scott nearly won the race. It's not a new thing.
"I disagree with the idea that we are doing something to hurt the integrity of the Indy 500. We would never do that - ever. The rule is the fastest 33 cars make the race - not the 33 fastest drivers. And, that is what will be on track Sunday."
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