Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - This year's Indianapolis 500 will feature a new qualifying format to set the 33-car starting field.
IndyCar announced on Friday that qualifying for the Indy 500 will contain three rounds of time trials over two days. The sanctioning body also said that Indy 500 qualifying results on Saturday and Sunday will include new points incentives, which will be revealed at a later date.
The first day of qualifying for the Indy 500, the opening round, is scheduled for Saturday, May 17. The fastest 33 cars will be locked into the field for the May 25 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but none of the starting positions will be determined on this day. All entries are guaranteed at least one four-lap attempt to qualify. The fastest nine entries will advance to the "Fast Nine Shootout," which takes place on Sunday.
Prior to the shootout, starting positions 10-33 will be determined. Saturday's times are erased and entries 10-33 must complete another four-lap attempt. The qualifying order for round two, scheduled for Sunday morning, will be determined by slowest to fastest from Saturday's times.
In the shootout round, scheduled for the afternoon, each entry will receive one four-lap attempt, and the order will be based on slowest to fastest from Saturday's times. Aggregate times from the shootout will determine positions 1-9.
"This new format includes two exciting days of on-track action, all culminating on Sunday with the Fast Nine Shootout," said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman Motorsports. "Fans get to watch their favorite drivers battle to make the field on Saturday, and then fight for a pole position on Sunday."
The shootout for Indy 500 qualifying was introduced in 2010 and occurred on Saturdays in its first four years.
Ed Carpenter won the pole for the 2013 Indy 500 with a four-lap average speed of 228.762 mph. Carpenter became the first driver/team owner to claim the top starting position for this prestigious race since 1975.
"You have to take big risks when you're taking a run at the pole or trying to get into the shootout," Carpenter said. "We're always at the limit of what our cars have and never more so than qualifying at Indianapolis.
"The driver has to be perfect to execute a pole-type run and doing it while the car is right on the edge of its capabilities. It's extremely stressful and challenging and then rewarding when it goes well. It's definitely one of the hardest things we do all year long, if not the hardest."