Iowa IndyCar race to use heat races for qualifying
Three 50-lap heat races, including transfers to Race 3 for the top-two finishers in the first two qualifying races, will determine the starting grid for the seventh Iowa Corn Indy 250 on Sunday, June 23, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
The format for heat race qualifications on Saturday, June 22, also will reward 12 starters with points - from nine points for the pole winner and descending by one point each position to one point for 11th and 12th. Other IZOD IndyCar Series events, outside of the Indianapolis 500 with its own points framework, pay one point to the pole winner.
Three heat races of 30 laps each replaced single-car qualifications for the Iowa event in 2012. Race 3 consisted of drivers ranked one through eight by combined practice times and race results determined the first four rows. Dario Franchitti earned the pole position and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who went on to win the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, won the race from the seventh starting position.
"We wanted to change things up a little with our oval qualifying format so we introduced heat races in 2012," said Beaux Barfield, Race Director, IZOD IndyCar Series. "We did it in a way that was relatively conservative in terms of the onus that was put on teams by having to run in one heat race.
"Based on positive fan response and feedback, we decided to take it one step further to improve the show and put some value in it for the competitors with points."
Positions in the three heat races will be determined by single-car, single-lap qualifications on the .875-mile, variably-banked oval. A blind draw will determine the qualifying order.
"Heat races at shorter tracks such as Iowa Speedway recall the heritage of oval track racing," Barfield added.
Qualifying Heat Race 1 -- Will consist of the even-numbered positions, starting with position 8 from single-car qualifying. The results of Race 1 shall determine the even-numbered positions in the starting field, starting with position 12. The top two finishers will transfer to Race 3 and start in positions 8 and 10.
Qualifying Heat Race 2 -- Will consist of the odd-numbered positions, starting with position 7 from single-car qualifying. The results of Race 2 shall determine the odd-numbered positions in the starting field, starting with position 11. The top two finishers will transfer to Race 3 and start in positions 7 and 9.
Qualifying Heat Race 3 -- Will consist of positions 1 through 6 from single-car qualifying plus the first- and second-place finishers from Races 1 and 2 to determine the pole winner and the first five rows of the starting grid.
"INDYCAR's new heat race format for our Iowa Corn Indy 250 assures that the three 50-lap qualifying races will create some of the most exciting, edge-of-your-seat racing of the weekend," said Doug Fritz CEO, Iowa Speedway. "Race fans won't want to miss any of the three heat races on Saturday, since the finishing order of each one will be critical in setting the starting grid for the 'big show' on Sunday."