INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the Verizon IndyCar Series, announced via the IMS PR Department today adjustments and changes to this May's Indianapolis 500 schedule and qualifying format.
With the newly updated qualifying procedures (More Info) announced last March, a concern among teams, drivers and INDYCAR was the lack of track time post-qualifications. In recent years past, the vast majority of drivers qualified for the "500" and used 'Bump Day' for race setup. In the new format, no car will have their position locked until the Sunday prior to the race, leaving just Carb Day's hour-long session for race preparations.
To fix the schedule issue, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR has added a noon-5pm practice day Monday, May 19th. Like all other practice days, on-track activity will be open to the public.
"On Sunday teams will be completely focused on qualifying, so we added another practice session to give them a sufficient amount of time to test their race setups," said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations. "Previously a majority of teams have utilized most of Sunday for full-tank running, so it was important for us to continue to give them that opportunity after qualifications are complete."
In addition to the added track time, a slight adjustment to the new format was also announced. To protect an entry from a disastrous Saturday of qualifying, the last row positions 31, 32 and 33 will be provisional until a 12:45-1:30pm session on Sunday. The final three positions will be fought for among all remaining un-qualified entries and the three cars provisionally qualified on Saturday. The adjustments also allows for last minute deals to be put together.
"As our qualifying format evolves we continue to evaluate what is best for the competitors," Walker explained. "We realized the need to provide teams that suffer an unexpected hardship on Saturday a second chance to make the Indianapolis 500. The changes apply primarily for cars that crash or suffer a mechanical failure during their Saturday qualifying run. Ultimately, we will capture the fastest 33 cars and that's who will make the race."
Positions 10-30 will be determined by a 10:15-12:15 session Sunday with the Verizon P1 Award being awarded during the Fast Nine Shootout from 2-2:45.