Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced the qualifying format for the 107th running of the the Indianapolis 500. While similar to lastyear as far as the number of cars eligible for the pole, the program has been modified to create more content on Sunday.
The new format, per IMS and Indycar: The schedule does not include the practice periods preceding each day’s action.
DAY ONE: Saturday, May 20
11 a.m.-5:50 p.m.: Full Field Qualifying (Live on Peacock, also 2:30-4:30 p.m. on NBC)
Qualifying will take place for positions 1-30. Positions 13-30 will be set, and those drivers will not requalify Sunday.
When every car in the qualifying order for Saturday has been presented at least one chance to qualify, teams may choose from two lanes for second and subsequent attempts. Cars in the priority lane (Lane 1) must withdraw their qualified time – if the car has one – but get priority access to the track ahead of Lane 2. Lane 2 is for cars that have already qualified but wish to improve their position.
Once cars are outside of the Top 30, they are considered to not have a qualification speed as only positions 1-30 will be locked in during Day One.
DAY TWO: Sunday, May 21
2-3 p.m.: Top 12 Qualifying (Live on Peacock)
Positions 7-12 will be determined. The order is based on Saturday times, slowest to fastest. Each car is guaranteed one attempt. The fastest six advance to the Firestone Fast Six to determine positions 1-6.
4-5 p.m.: Last Chance Qualifying (Live on NBC)
Positions 31-33 will be determined. Each car is guaranteed one attempt and may make multiple attempts until time expires. Each car’s most recent qualification speed will remain eligible for the starting lineup until the time is withdrawn or qualifications end.
5:15-5:45 p.m.: Firestone Fast Six (Live on NBC)
Positions 1-6 will be determined. The order is based on times from Top 12 Qualifying earlier Sunday, slowest to fastest. Each car is guaranteed one attempt. The fastest driver in the Firestone Fast Six will earn the coveted NTT P1 Award for pole.
This program eliminates the two hour gap that Sunday in 2022 had. I assume the series will play Sunday by ear each year, since this may be the last year there are more than 33 cars for a while.
As I stated last year, I thnk 12 cars eligible for the pole is too many. I am also unsure of the value of bumping for just one car. I will expand on my thoughts next week when I sharethe entire May program.