Indy ramblings

Among the other interesting nuggets uncovered this week at the Performance Racing Industry trade show that runs through Saturday (closed to the public):

– Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials said they have sold more than 300,000 tickets to May 2014 activities. The goal is to sell 400,000, keyed by the addition of the road course event May 8-10 and a headliner concert on May 24, the Saturday prior to the 500.

– Plans for modifying the 500's qualifying format haven't been finalized, but it seems likely that all 33 starting positions will be decided, weather permitting, on May 17, which history knows to be pole day. On the next day, there will be a pole shootout for the fastest qualifiers. The television window is from 1-3 p.m.

– IndyCar won't be the only sanctioning body altering its qualifying format at IMS. Former IMS president Joie Chitwood, who now holds the same title at Daytona International Speedway, said NASCAR is changing its qualifying format "at all tracks."

– The iconic IMS pylon, which has stood in its 97-foot form since 1994, will be replaced in the spring by a new structure. IMS president Doug Boles expects the new one to be similar in presence, although it figures to have graphics so an appropriate level of car numbers can be displayed. The 500 starts 33 cars; the Brickyard 400 starts 43.

– The 8-foot-wide apron that will be re-installed in four corners of the IMS oval will be for the wider stock cars only in 2014. That's largely the case because the asphalt won't go in until after the 500. Whether IndyCar uses the apron, as it did through the 1992 race, is still to be determined pending a review of the safety factors.

– With the apron installed, Boles said IMS will extend the energy-absorbing SAFER barrier 100 yards in each corner.

– IMS also will be adding video boards, wireless and assorted other technical gadgets as part of the projected $140 million in renovations. With Daytona undergoing a similar, if not larger project, Chitwood said it's best to wait as long as possible to decide what type of innovations to choose as technology changes quickly.

– Chitwood said there have been no lawsuits filed against the Daytona track or its parent company in the aftermath of Kyle Larson's Nationwide Series crash in February that showered the front straightaway grandstands, injuring at least 28.

– Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis said the return of IndyCar to MIS is "probably three to five years away." At Juan Pablo Montoya's Team Penske test at Phoenix International Raceway, track president Bryan Sperber sounded more optimistic that IndyCar could return sooner than that, although negotiations aren't imminent. Indy Star

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