After the infrastructure of the new Indianapolis 500 qualifying format leaked last week, today IMS made if official. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway now confirms that of the 33-car field, 24 positions will be filled on Pole Day. The cars will begin their 4-lap runs at 11am, with a deadline of 4pm, each car with up to 3 attempts.
The top 9 cars from the first session will then take to the track after a half-hour break, at 4:30pm, for a run at the pole. Once again, the Dallara's will make 4-lap runs, with each required to make at least 1 attempt in the 90-minute session, with one extra attempt possible if time permits. Each driver that enters "The Fast Nine" will be guaranteed a top 9 start in the race, no matter what happens in the 2nd session.
Not only is an increased monetary award now up for grabs, but for the first time all 33-positions will receive points toward the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship as well. The winner of the 2010 PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone will earn $175,000 and 15 points, up from $100k last year. 2nd place will receive $75,000 and 13 points with the outside of row one qualifying team receiving $50,000 and 12 points. Teams from rows 2 & 3, positions 4-9, will earn between 11 and 6 points with positions 10-24 earning 4 points and 25-33 receiving 3 points.
The following day, Bump Day, the remaining 9 positions will be filled with 4-lap qualification runs beginning at 12pm (Noon) and ending with many hearts broken at 6pm when the checkered flag falls.
“This new format for Indianapolis 500 qualifying will deliver even more action and intensity for fans. Drivers will go all out during the first session on Pole Day to get a chance to make a run for the pole. Then they’ll need to dig even deeper to find the speed for the pole in the last 90 minutes. Plus there still will be plenty of spots up for grabs on Bump Day, with all of the dramatic, last-minute bumping that generations of fans have loved about Indy.
“This is going to be a fantastic weekend of qualifying. I can’t wait to see it unfold.” - IMS Corp. President and CEO, Jeff Belskus
“The rewards of the qualifying format help to make the Indianapolis 500 the most important race on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. Teams and drivers in the shootout will have to make a decision after their initial run in the ‘Fast Nine’ segment whether they want to attempt to move up on the grid with a final attempt. Not only would they potentially have a higher starting position, but they would accumulate more bonus points that could come into play later in the season in the driver championship.” - IRL President of Competition and Racing Operations, Brian Barnhart