Indy 500: Everyone is asking the same question after qualifying

Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Indy 500, IndyCar (Photo Credit: The Indianapolis Star)
Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Indy 500, IndyCar (Photo Credit: The Indianapolis Star) /

Whether or not Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will buy Graham Rahal a ride for the 107th running of the Indy 500 has been brought up countless times already.

As the clock expired in the Bump Day/Last Chance qualifying session on Sunday afternoon, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Jack Harvey managed to bump teammate Graham Rahal and his No. 15 Honda out of the 107th running of the Indy 500.

Harvey’s surprising four-lap run of 229.166 miles per hour around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval was just 0.007 miles per hour quicker than that of Rahal’s, and it came almost immediately after a failed attempt, making it that much more shocking.

The gap between the teammates over the course of a 10-mile run? 19 inches.

With Rahal being a full-time driver and the son of team owner Bobby Rahal, who himself was bumped out of the 1993 Indy 500, many began to ask whether the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team would put Graham in Katherine Legge’s No. 44 Honda, a one-off entry, or perhaps buy an entry from another team to make sure Graham and his sponsors got in the race.

It’s a question that has been asked before, most recently in 2018 when James Hinchcliffe didn’t make it into the Indy 500.

As a full-time driver who had finished no lower than ninth place in the season’s first five races, it would have made sense for his Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to try to find him a ride elsewhere to bolster his championship hopes.

But that didn’t happen in 2018, and while it became a talking point immediately after Rahal was bumped out, it isn’t going to happen in 2023.

Rahal has already confirmed this multiple times, noting that he “didn’t earn it” and is “not going to car swap” with a driver who did.

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Technically, Graham didn’t really need to make this remark to make this clear. Bobby had already effectively removed himself from a nearly impossible situation, allowing both the No. 15 team and No. 30 team to duke it out. There was clearly no favoritism or nepotism within this organization.

If Bobby didn’t want Harvey to bump out his son, the No. 30 team wouldn’t have been allowed to make another qualifying run. Each driver would have had one attempt, and that would have been that. Instead, they took three shots, and they converted on number three, giving the No. 15 team no time to respond.

A ride buyout most recently happened in 2011, when Marco Andretti bumped Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay out. Hunter-Reay ended up replacing Bruno Junqueira at A.J. Foyt Enterprises and competed in the race anyway.

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NBC is set to broadcast the 107th running of the Indy 500 live from Indianapolis Motor Speedway starting at 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 28, with pre-race coverage set to start at 9:00 a.m. ET on Peacock. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss the biggest IndyCar race of the year!