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Qualifying change for Indy 500
Qualifying for next month's Indianapolis 500 will be restructured. Final details still are coming together, but the single weekend session May 22-23 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have a cap of 24 cars, or eight rows, on the first day -- pole day -- with the other nine positions decided on bump day.

The previous format allowed 11 qualifiers for each of the first three days.

Saving action for bump day is the key to this plan, but there figures to be enough action anyway because Indy Racing League officials are expecting at least 40 car-and-driver combinations, the largest total in years.

"If we'd have had 35 or 36 cars as we've had in previous years, there'd only be two or three cars left for bump day, and that's not enough," said Brian Barnhart, the 500's chief steward and the IRL's president of competition.

Barnhart has an extra layer of qualifying to be announced next week. He won't discuss it until he speaks to team owners at this weekend's event at Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham, Ala., but it is believed to include a late-afternoon session on pole day that gives competitors a final shot at the No. 1 qualifying spot.

"It's a derivative of our Firestone Fast Six session (used on road courses and street circuits)," he said Thursday. "We've had a lot of success with that 'knockout' format, and people have asked us how we can do it on oval (tracks). We can't, but we think this can be something like that." Indy Star

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