Hinchcliffe's 500-mile stare

A dejected James Hinchcliffe after failing to qualify for the 2018 Indy 500

© IndyCar Media

The "thousand-yard stare" is the name given to the look on the faces of soldiers struggling to comprehend the horrors of warfare. Sometimes motorsport has an equally devastating effect on its participants after a shock outcome.

Such is the expression on James Hinchcliffe's face on Saturday, after he sensationally missed out on qualifying for the 2018 Indianapolis 500.

He was on pole position for the race in 2016. No one expected him to be among the drivers to miss out on this year's event.

It was the first time since 2011 that 'bumping' has been on the cards at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With 35 entries and only 33 grid spots for next Sunday's race, two drivers were going to get cut at the end of yesterday's first day of qualifying. One of them turned out to be Hinchcliffe, and the other was British driver Pippa Mann.

“We’re not the first big name, big car to go home in this race,” Hinchcliffe said. “That’s Indy. We finally have bumping again, which everybody was super-thrilled about. I’m a little less thrilled about it than I was 24 hours ago. You’ve got to take your lumps here sometimes."

Hinchcliffe was the first driver out on track after a rain delay. When he went back out later in the day to improve his time, a wheel vibration forced him to pit. He then didn't have enough time to get back out on track before the end of the session.

“Nobody screwed us,” Hinchcliffe said. “The system didn’t fail us. We failed us.”

Qualifying continues on Sunday, with the top nine from yesterday's session entered into a pole shoot-out. Among them is Danica Patrick, returning to open wheel competition after seven years of racing in NASCAR. It will be her last race before retiring from the sport.

“I have high expectations for doing well here," she said. "But to think that I was going to come back and be in the fast nine right off the bat? I’m going to tell you, I was doing 208mph at the test on the first day and thought, ‘I might not be able to do this!'"

Also in the running for pole later today will be Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais, Spencer Pigot, Scott Dixon, and reigning IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden.

Danica Patrick celebrates after successfully qualifying for the 2018 Indy 500

© IndyCar Media

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