Hinchcliffe admitted that team co-owner Sam Schmidt may be pursuing a driver switch on the team that would put the popular driver from Canada back in the race.
If such a scenario occurs, Hinchcliffe would rejoin fellow full-time driver Robert Wickens, who qualified 20th on Saturday.
“I’m here to race at the end of the day,” Hinchcliffe said. “I work for Sam and Rick. Whatever Sam and Rick tell me to do, I’ll do. I believe there’s some options being investigated. At this point, I don’t know any more than you (all) do.”
The best prospect for a driver swap is the No. 7 Honda that Jay Howard qualified at 226.098 mph for SPM, which was 18th fastest on the day.
Another possibility is a satellite entry for Mike Shank Racing with England’s Jack Harvey. That team has a technical alliance with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Hinchcliffe admitted he thought qualifications were supposed to conclude at 6 p.m., not 5:50 p.m. That move was made to accommodate the live television audience on ABC.
“Personally I thought it was 6,” he said. “I guess a few years ago it changed to 5:50 for TV. They got their drama. So that worked.”
“Pippa and I were both running to get back into lane one there. You can play Monday morning quarterback all you want and try to look at things that could have been done differently or decisions made by certain people to maybe help the cause, but at the end of the day it’s our bad. It’s a function of getting through tonight and then moving on to the next one.”
With 35 entries for the 33-car starting lineup, there was plenty of drama for the six hour, 50 minute session, as some heavy-hitters were qualifying for the “Fast Nine” and some others were trying to keep from being bumped.
Hinchcliffe’s former housemate, Conor Daly, bumped him out of the race at 5:27 p.m. with a four-lap run of 224.874 mph.
After being bumped, Hinchcliffe went out at 5:37 p.m., but aborted his run when he reported the vibration on his first warmup lap and returned to the pits.
Rahal attempted to improve his speed when he hit the track at 5:39 pm, but his four-lap average at 225.167 was slower than his previous speed.
However, Rahal was allowed to keep his faster attempt because he did not withdraw his time. Alexander Rossi was next out and improved his time to 227.561 mph.
With two minutes left, Mann made her third attempt at getting into the field and her speed was too slow at 223.656 mph.
By then, the gun was fired, and qualifications had ended with Hinchcliffe still in line.
His four-lap average of 224.784 mph in the No. 5 Honda was ultimately too slow.
“We win as a team; we lose as a team,” a disappointed Hinchcliffe said. “It’s crazy to be here after where we were two years ago (when he won the pole for the 100th Indianapolis 500). But we’ll put our heads down, we’ll take a look at it, and we’ll learn from this experience.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, for sure. I’m disappointed,” Hinchcliffe added. “The Arrow car is fast enough to be in the show; no doubt about it. We’ve got one of the best crews on pit lane. It’s a big blow, for sure.”