INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Australian Ryan Briscoe was drafted into the Indianapolis 500 on Thursday, filling in for the injured James Hinchcliffe, but will have only one full practice session to get up to speed at the famed Brickyard.
Briscoe, who will be making his 10th Indy 500 start, received the last-minute offer from Schmidt Peterson Motorsport after Hinchcliffe slammed hard into the wall during a practice session on Monday when his front suspension broke and sustained a serious leg injury.
With three front row starts at the 500, including a pole position in 2012, Briscoe knows his way around the sprawling 2.5 mile Indianapolis oval.
However, he will have only a brief “familiarization” session on Thursday and the one-hour Carb Day practice on Friday to come to grips with the new aero kit that has contributed to a string of crashes in the buildup to Sunday’s race.
”My first thoughts go to James, you never like to be part of situation like this,“ Briscoe told reporters. ”To have this opportunity, it’s great but coming in the day before Carb Day is not the ideal situation.
“You prepare for this race often a year out, you visualize how you are going to go through practice and all the prep you are going to do ... the whole process ... and something like this comes up and you throw that out the window.”
Briscoe, whose resume includes seven IndyCar wins, will start 32nd on the 33-car grid. Last year, he started 30th and worked his way up through the field before finishing 18th.
”We explored quite a few options and felt confident in Briscoe,“ said Schmidt. ”Obviously this was not a situation we were expecting to be in for the biggest race of the year but we’re making the best of it.
”We’re excited to have an accomplished veteran in the seat of the number 5 Arrow Electronics car.
“We watched him go to the back last season and worked his way all the way through. It is as good as it could be, given the situation. We have really expectations.”
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes