Indianapolis 500 Qualifying 101 (Update)

UPDATE A reader writes, Dear, I’m a regular IndyCar viewer and avid auto racing enthusiast and I have no idea what is going on for qualifying at Indy this year. If I can't follow it, I can only imagine the casual (or young) viewer will be utterly confused and switch the channel.

WTF is up with qualifying twice? And what is this qualifying points system? So if I qualify on pole on day two do I get the pole or not? What if I qualify on pole on day one? Whatever happened to everyone qualifying on the same day and the starting order is based on those results? Obviously, there is no need for Bump Day anymore after Tony George's 'vision' destroyed the sport and his beloved Indy as well. D. Hughes, Cincinnati, OH

Dear D. Hughes, It's sort of like putting lipstick on a pig. Nothing is more boring that oval track qualifying with one car at a time droning around in circles at 100% throttle. Even NASCAR was putting their fans to sleep, so they now have a new qualifying procedure too. As far as fans switching off the TV after being utterly confused, we do not think IndyCar cares about TV ratings. They still have most of their races on NBC Sports Network so obviously getting good TV ratings is not important. We'll see how it goes this year and then make a final judgment whether it's the best thing since sliced bread, or indeed lipstick on a pig. Mark C.


• All entries are guaranteed one attempt to qualify between 11 a.m. and 5:50 p.m.

• The fastest 33 cars will make up the provisional field for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race based on the fastest four-lap average time.

• Once the qualifying session ends, the top 30 cars are locked in to the field.

• However, all 33 cars must re-qualify on Sunday to determine final starting positions.

• The fastest nine cars advance to a shootout on Sunday to determine the Verizon P1 Award.

Qualifying Lines:

• There will be two qualifying lines at the end of pit lane:

o Line 1: Cars that are unqualified or have withdrawn their previous qualifying times. Priority will be given to this lane.

o Line 2: Cars that have already qualified but want another attempt and have not withdrawn their previous qualifying times.

• Multiple attempts are permitted without withdrawing a time by entering Line 2.

• Teams can withdraw their time and enter Line 1, which will have priority over cars already in the field.

• Teams that make multiple attempts can only improve their times if they have not withdrawn their time to enter Line 2, meaning, even if a driver records a slower four-lap average, that driver's previous (faster) time will stand.

Qualifying Points, Saturday:

1st – 33 points

2nd – 32 points

3rd – 31 points

4th – 30 points

5th – 29 points

6th – 28 points

7th – 27 points

8th – 26 points

9th – 25 points

10th – 24 points

11th – 23 points

12th – 22 points

13th – 21 points

14th – 20 points

15th – 19 points

16th – 18 points

17th – 17 points

18th – 16 points

19th – 15 points

20th – 14 points

21st – 13 points

22nd – 12 points

23rd – 11 points

24th – 10 points

25th – 9 points

26th – 8 points

27th – 7 points

28th – 6 points

29th – 5 points

30th – 4 points

31st – 3 points

32nd – 2 points

33rd – 1 point


Group 1:

• All Saturday times are erased and positions 10-30 will re-qualify to determine starting position.

• Order will be the reverse of Saturday's rankings.

• Lineup will be determined based on fastest four-lap averages.

• In the event that there are only 33 cars entered, this group will determine positions 10-33.

Group 2 (Only used in the event there are more than 33 cars):

• All Saturday times are erased and positions 31-33, and any entry that has yet to make one attempt to qualify, will re-qualify to determine the 11th row of the race.

Group 3:

• The top nine cars will run in reverse order based on Saturday's times.

• All cars will make one attempt.

• At the end of the session, the cars are ranked 1-9 based on their four-lap average during the segment.

Qualifying Points, Sunday:

1st – 9 points

2nd – 8 points

3rd – 7 points

4th – 6 points

5th – 5 points

6th – 4 points

7th – 3 points

8th – 2 points

9th – 1 point

Note: The Indianapolis 500 will award double points for race results, but the qualifying points and any bonus points awarded for leading a lap (1 point) or most laps (2 points) will not be doubled.

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