Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 has been revised, with a whole new format in place for setting up the 33-car field. Here's how the two-day program will unfold – weather permitting, of course:
POLE DAY: Saturday, May 22
Positions available: 1-24
Format:• 11 a.m.-4 p.m.:
The top 24 spots in the 33-car field will be available through traditional four-lap attempts. Each car will have up to three attempts during this time. The times of the top nine drivers from this first segment of qualifying will be erased at 4 p.m., with all of those competitors guaranteed to start no worse than ninth in the Indianapolis 500.
• 4:30-6 p.m.: “The Fast Nine” then will be required to make at least one four-lap qualifying attempt, with optional attempts if time permits. Each driver's best run during the 90-minute session will set their position within the top nine spots on the starting grid. If inclement weather prevents the 90-minute shootout for the “Fast Nine,” their times from the opening session will determine starting positions.
Front row bonus money:
• Pole: $175,000 ($100,000 PEAK Performance Pole Award, $75,000 Indianapolis Motor Speedway bonus)
• Second: $75,000
• Third: $50,000BUMP DAY, Sunday, May 23
Positions available: 25-33
Format: The final nine spots in the field will be earned through traditional four-lap qualifying from noon-6 p.m. Bumping will begin once 33 cars have qualified.
Qualifying Points: In a departure from the other 16 IZOD IndyCar Series races, in which the PEAK Performance Pole Award winner earns one bonus point, all 33 starting drivers will receive championship points. The pole winner will receive 15 points, with the other front-row starters earning 13 and 12 points, respectively. Drivers in Rows 2 and 3 will receive, in descending order, between 11 and six points. Positions 10-24 receive four bonus points, and 25-33 earn three points.Qualifying questions and answers:
Q: What happens if weather washes out the Fast Nine shootout before every driver gets a chance to make at least one attempt?
A: The position in the top nine starting spots for those nine drivers will be determined by their fastest runs during the 11 a.m.-4 p.m. segment.
Q: Can any drivers other than the Fast Nine make qualifying runs from 4:30-6 p.m. on Pole Day?
Q: Must a driver in the Fast Nine withdraw their time from the mandatory attempt during the final segment if he or she chooses to make a second qualification attempt during that segment?
Q: How will the qualifying draw for the Fast Nine segment be determined?
A: The driver with the fastest run during the 11 a.m.-4 p.m. segment will choose their position in the qualifying line at 4:10 p.m., followed by the second-fastest and so. The ninth-fastest driver will receive the final remaining slot in the line.
Q: Where does one of the Fast Nine drivers start if he or she can't complete a run in the completed shootout due to a crash or a mechanical problem?
A: All nine drivers who qualify for the Fast Nine shootout based on their best runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. are guaranteed a starting spot in the top nine. The shootout from 4:30-6 p.m. determines their position in the top nine. If they don't complete an attempt in the shootout, they will start ninth. If two drivers don't complete an attempt in the shootout due to a crash or mechanical, then they will start eighth and ninth, respectively, based on their best run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Q: What happens if a driver crashes in the Fast Nine, and that car is destroyed? If that driver is forced to a backup car for the rest of the event, will he or she start ninth or 33rd?
A: All drivers who qualify are guaranteed a starting spot in the top nine on Race Day, even if they must change cars.
Q: What happens if Pole Day is rained out?
A: One day of qualifying would take place from noon-6 p.m. Sunday, May 23, with all 33 positions up for grabs. Each car would get the traditional three attempts that day. The pole shootout for the Fast Nine would not take place.
Q: What happens if Bump Day is rained out?
A: Qualifying would resume on the next available day for positions 25-33. There would be one attempt per car, which has been the established procedure for a Bump Day rain out.