INDYCAR has announced changes to the qualifying format for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500. The second day of the two-day event will be expanded to include two rounds of qualification attempts to decide the first four rows of the 33-car grid.
The first day of qualifying will set positions 13-30, and potentially positions 13-33, in place for the race. The top 12 drivers will advance to the second day to take their shot at the pole position.
On day two, the top 12 drivers will have an attempt to make a traditional four-lap qualifying time, starting in reverse order of speeds from day one. The fastest six will then advance to the Firestone Fast Six to determine positions one through six.
The slowest six will fill out positions seven through 12 based on their recorded times.
“We have an incredibly deep field heading into this year’s Indianapolis 500,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said in written remarks. “The timing is right to implement a new and dramatic way to expand one of the most intense weekends on our calendar. Winning pole position for the ‘500’ is an incredible feat, and with this new format, it will be even more challenging.”
The winner of the pole position will receive a $100,000 prize. They will also receive 12 points toward the INDYCAR SERIES championship standings. The second fastest will receive 11 points, with the number of points decreasing by one down to the 12th fastest driver.
If there are more than 33 entries competing for a spot in the race, a Last Change Qualifying session will take place on day two to fill the final row of drivers.
“Indianapolis 500 qualifying weekend always is special,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles. “This format will give our fans even more opportunities to see INDYCAR’S world-class drivers compete on racing’s biggest stage. While winning the race is the ultimate prize, capturing pole position for the ‘500’ is one of motorsports’ most prestigious honors and almost a race within a race.”
Qualifying for this year’s Indy 500 will take place May 21-22. You can view the schedule of the qualifying weekend by clicking here.