By: Tanner Watkins
February 28, 2019 | 1:00 PM
INDYCAR has announced changes to the structure of qualifications weekend for the 103rd Indianapolis 500. The alterations will affect both the Saturday and Sunday portions of qualifying weekend, which will be held May 18 and 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On Saturday, May 18, drivers will set qualifying times in an attempt to secure one of 30 locked-in starting positions for the Indianapolis 500. In addition to the race for locked-in spots on Saturday, drivers will also be competing for a spot in the Fast Nine Shootout which will decide the pole sitter on Sunday.
Each entry will be guaranteed one attempt on Saturday, and multiple four-lap qualification runs will be made as time permits. A change from previous years will see cars in positions 10 through 30 at the end of the first day be locked into their starting posts, not required to re-qualify the next day.
Coverage of Saturday qualifications from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. will be shown on NBC Sports Gold, while the final hour from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. will be shown on NBCSN.
For Sunday, May 19, the conclusion of qualifications will be shown live on NBC from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern with two battles occurring in the three-hour timespan. One will be the battle for the last three starting positions in the field of 33, as well as the pole-deciding Fast Nine Shootout to determine the starting order for the first three rows.
But that won’t be all for the action on Sunday. From 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, NBCSN will provide live coverage of a three-hour practice session that will serve as a preview of the Indianapolis 500. In a similar fashion of the popular Monday practice before the “500” in recent years, cars will be running in race trim for exciting pack action.
The INDYCAR Radio Network will be offering flag-to-flag coverage of Indianapolis 500 qualifications once again in 2019, continuing a tradition of over 70 years covering time trials. Each minute and each run will be aired live, anchored by the Radio Network’s Mark Jaynes.
“With this schedule, fans will get a phenomenal weekend of action, with two days of qualifying, bumping, the run for the pole and this incredible practice that effectively is the race before the race – all in a two-day span,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said.
The exact weekend schedule reads as follows:
Saturday, May 18
8:00 to 9:30 a.m. : Open Practice
11:00 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. : Qualifying (order based on draw, top 30 locked in field at conclusion of the day).
Sunday, May 19
10:15 to 10:45 a.m. : Fast Nine Shootout practice
10:45 to 11:15 a.m. : Last Row Shootout practice
12:15 to 1:15 p.m. : Last Row Shootout qualifying (order based on original draw, one attempt per car)
1:15 to 2:15 p.m. : Fast Nine Shootout qualifying (order based on Saturday times, slowest to fastest, one attempt per car)
3:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. : Open practice, all 33 qualified cars.
Image by Walter Kuhn/INDYCAR.