Today is the first day of qualifying for the Indy 500. The weather could play a role today as it’s very overcast and there is rain heading towards Terre Haute from Southern Illinois. Hopefully each qualifier can get one qualifying attempt in today so that it isn’t crammed into Sunday.
I’ve been looking at my twitter feed and it seems many fans, including experienced fans, are confused about qualifying. Here is what IndyCar sent out to help fans understand qualifying:
There are several things I would like to point out to you. The first is that cars can make multiple attempts. In years past, they were only allowed 3 but now they can make more than that. The second point is that at the end of today, the top 9 cars (rows 1-3) are locked in place and transfer to the Fast Nine Shootout on Sunday. On Sunday, their times are erased and the qualification order is the 9th place car qualifies first on down the order until the first place car qualifies last. Once each driver qualifies once, the top 9 cars are set and we find out who won the pole. The third point is cars 10-30 (rows 4-10) are also locked in on Saturday. On Sunday, each car will get one qualifying attempt starting with the slowest car from Saturday down to the fastest car in this group. Once each car has made their attempt, these position are set. I think this next point is where the confusion occurs. At the conclusion of Saturday’s qualifying, position 31-33 are provisional. Now this year there are 34 cars going for 33 spots. Whichever driver qualifies 34th on Saturday, it would appear that they did not make the Indy 500 this year, but that is not the case. As long as they declare to IndyCar that they intend to qualify, they will be back on Sunday to try to get in the field. Positions 31-33 are provisional so on Sunday, the last 3 positions and the bumped car from Saturday will go back out to qualify. The bumped car from Saturday could qualify their way in and a car that qualified 31-33 Saturday could get bumped out on Sunday and not be in this year’s Indy 500. Their will be plenty of emotions that these teams/drivers will experience on Sunday. The only other point is that there are two qualifying lanes. The Fuzzy’s Fast Lane are for cars that have not qualified yet or who have withdrawn their time and want to qualify again. This lane gets the free pass and takes priority over the normal qualifying lane. The normal qualifying lane are for those cars who are not withdrawing their time but who think they can improve their time. If their time does not improve, their original qualifying time stands. In other words, if they go slower, they are not penalized. They keep their faster time.
As long as the weather cooperates today and tomorrow, there will be plenty of excitement, which is what you expect from Indy. Drivers and teams will be on an emotional roller coaster and unfortunately, one driver/team will not make it to this year’s 500. So which driver won’t make it in? What’s your prediction? I’d enjoy hearing your opinion. Tweet me: @Open_Wheels or @davidindycar