Tagliani bumped out of Indy 500 field

Alex Tagliani was squeezed out of the Indianapolis 500 field in the final moments of a hugely dramatic Bump Day qualfiying session, as last gasp laps from John Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay squeezed them onto the grid after earlier scares

Tagliani bumped out of Indy 500 field

Conquest driver Tagliani, who had been trying to qualify for his first Indy 500, had looked safe in 26th place at the start of the day, but so many drivers improved their times that the Canadian found himself on the bubble when Andretti got back into the field at Hunter-Reay's expense with the penultimate run of the day.

Hunter-Reay instantly responded and did just enough to get onto the grid. His four-lap average of 220.597mph was a scant 0.04mph quicker than Tagliani's from Saturday, but that was enough to get Vision Racing's Hunter-Reay in and end Tagliani's hopes of making the field.

"It's difficult to accept the fact that you need to go home with a car that is capable to be in the field," Tagliani said. "It's hard to comprehend. I just want to turn the page and just get back in the car at Milwaukee.

"Until the next time I jump in the car, it's going to be pretty tough. I know the way I am, and this race was important for me, and it's really difficult right now."

1996 race winner Buddy Lazier (Hemelgarn) and 3G's NASCAR convert Stanton Barrett were the other two drivers to miss out on Bump Day, as ironically Conquest's other driver Bruno Junqueira became the only man who started the day outside the grid on get into the race on Bump Day.

With the weather conditions much more favourable than yesterday's, it was clear that higher speeds were going to be possible. That meant that rather than waiting to be bumped out and then retaliating, a host of drivers withdrew their existing qualifying times as soon as they got near to being on the bubble.

Tomas Scheckter (Dale Coyne Racing), Dreyer & Reinbold's Milka Duno and Mike Conway, Hunter-Reay and HVM's EJ Viso and Tomas Scheckter all pulled this gamble off successfully and managed to move to safer times, while Junqueira had little trouble making the cut on his first run of the month.

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 and snatch Hunter-Reay's grid spot, but his four-lap average was 0.13mph too slow to bump the Vision car from the field.

Barrett and Lazier then made last ditch efforts to qualify, before both waved off their runs after poor first laps made it clear there was no point in continuing.

Their quick decisions to abandon their attempts allowed Andretti to go back out again with five minutes to go - and this time he found a massive improvement and jumped to 28th, pushing Hunter-Reay out.

Last year's rookie of the year immediately took to the track in response, and at first looked set to comfortably qualify. Hunter-Reay then lost speed on his third lap, but still managed to maintain enough momentum to pip Tagliani and claim 33rd on the grid - to his huge relief after a troubled month of struggling for speed.

At the other end of the line-up, Helio Castroneves secured his third Indy 500 pole last weekend, and will lead the race away next Sunday afternoon.

Complete Indianapolis 500 starting line-up:

Pos Driver Team Speed 1. Helio Castroneves Penske 224.864mph 2. Ryan Briscoe Penske 224.083mph 3. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 224.010mph 4. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 223.954mph 5. Scott Dixon Ganassi 223.867mph 6. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 223.612mph 7. Mario Moraes KV 223.331mph 8. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 223.114mph 9. Will Power Penske 223.028mph 10. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 222.882mph 11. Alex Lloyd Schmidt/Ganassi 222.622mph 12. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 223.429mph 13. Paul Tracy KV 223.111mph 14. Vitor Meira Foyt 223.054mph 15. Justin Wilson Coyne 222.903mph 16. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 222.805mph 17. Ed Carpenter Vision 222.780mph 18. Dan Wheldon Panther 222.777mph 19. AJ Foyt IV Foyt 222.586mph 20. Scott Sharp Panther 222.162mph 21. Sarah Fisher Fisher 222.082mph 22. Davey Hamilton Dreyer & Reinbold 221.956mph 23. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 221.692mph 24. Townsend Bell KV 221.195mph 25. Oriol Servia Rahal Letterman 220.984mph 26. Tomas Scheckter Coyne 221.496mph 27. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 221.417mph 28. John Andretti Dreyer & Reinbold/Petty 221.316mph 29. EJ Viso HVM 221.164mph 30. Bruno Junqueira Conquest 221.115mph 31. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 221.106mph 32. Nelson Philippe HVM 220.754mph 33. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 220.597mph 
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