The 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 will feature an extra day of on-track activity with the addition of a Verizon IndyCar Series practice session on Monday, May 19th. The practice session on May 19th will take place from 12 to 5 p.m. ET, and the extra day of practice will be open to the public like any other practice day during May.
In March, INDYCAR announced a new qualification format in efforts to increase the excitement level and on-track action during qualifications. Qualifying weekend will culminate on Sunday, May 18th with the Fast Nine Shootout, which will determine the pole sitter for the Indianapolis 500.
"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."
"The addition of a post-qualifying practice will be beneficial to the teams as they prepare for the Indianapolis 500, and will also be an exciting, action-packed afternoon of track activity for fans," said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles. "We are also thankful to the many staff, businesses and the local law enforcement community for the cooperation in adding another new element to the Indianapolis 500 activities."
INDYCAR also issued an update to the qualification format, allowing a competitor that suffers a hardship during the Saturday, May 17th qualifying session an opportunity to make the starting field during Sunday qualifications. The revision also permits teams that want to bring new entries forward after qualifying on Saturday an opportunity to compete for a position in the race. In both cases, these teams would be restricted to the last row of the field.
"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."
At the conclusion of Saturday's qualifications, positions 31 through 33 will be provisional and those cars, plus any entry not already in the field that has declared its intention to qualify prior to 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, will participate in a separate qualification session on Sunday to determine the final row on the grid.
Sunday's qualifying will include three separate group sessions:
· Group One (10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. ET) - Determines starting positions 10-30
· Group Two (12:45 to 1:30 p.m. ET) - Determines positions 31-33
· The Fast Nine Shootout (2 to 2:45 p.m. ET) - Determines the Verizon P1 Award winner and first three rows of the race
Information and quotes provided by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Public Relations.
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