Newsstand » Indycar makes changes to Indianapolis 500 qualifying format
The IndyCar Series on Friday morning announced a new qualifying format to set the 33-car starting lineup for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
IndyCar said, “Qualifying will be enhanced with three sessions of time trials over two eventful days, with the goal of increasing entertainment value, fan attendance and TV viewership for the 2014 qualifying weekend on May 17-18, 2014.”
“This new format includes two exciting days of on-track action, all culminating on Sunday with the Fast Nine Shootout,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman Motorsports, which runs IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Fans get to watch their favorite drivers battle to make the field on Saturday, and then fight for a pole position on Sunday. It will be a great show for fans attending the race and watching the broadcast on ABC.”
The huge change to tradition is that the pole winner will not be decided on Saturday — known for years as “pole day” — but will instead be decided on Sunday during a “Fast Nine Shootout”, along with the rest of the starting lineup. The Fast Nine Shootout was introduced in 2010 as part of time trials. Similarly, Sunday is no longer “Bump Day,” but rather a full day of setting the entire field. If there are more than 33 entries, Saturday effectively becomes bump day — if a driver is not one of the 33 fastest on Saturday, he or she will not advance to Sunday’s qualifying session. Notably, the Fast Nine Shootout is now the final qualifying session to run, which means that the fight for pole position will now be the final thing that happens during qualifying — moving the most important bit of action to the very end of the weekend. IndyCar officials hope the change will maintain suspense throughout both days instead of fans losing interest in Bump Day, which in recent years has become a boring affair due to a lack of many entries beyond 33 cars. Last year, for example, only one driver (Michel Jourdain Jr.) was bumped from the field.
The format is as follows:
Saturday, May 17 (11 a.m.-5:50 p.m. ET)
— All entries are guaranteed at least one four-lap attempt to qualify.
— The fastest nine entries advance to Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout.
— The fastest 33 cars from Saturday compose the starting field (but no starting positions will be decided on Saturday).
Sunday, May 18 (10:15 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET)
— Saturday times are erased and entries 10-33 from Saturday’s speed chart must complete another four-lap attempt to determine their starting position in order of the slowest to fastest from Saturday times.
Fast Nine Shootout, Sunday, May 18 (2-2:45 p.m. ET)
— Each entry will receive one four-lap attempt in the order of the slowest to the fastest from Saturday times. Aggregate times will determine the Verizon P1 Award winner and top three rows.
— Qualifying results on Saturday and Sunday will include new points incentives to be announced at a later date. Practice sessions before time trials commence are scheduled both days.
“There is an enormous amount of talent in the field this year, which so far includes five former Indianapolis 500 champions,” said Derrick Walker, IndyCar’s president of competition and operations. “The new format presents an additional challenge to drivers who have one chance to make the field on Saturday, and start over again on Sunday to determine their starting position.”