Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is considered among the most difficult tasks in all of motorsports. Four laps, full out, on the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
The process is intricate for the two days of qualifications this weekend to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner who will lead the 33-car field to the green flag for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28.
Here is a quick primer to help guide you through the process:
The qualifying order was determined by a random draw Friday evening. With everyone expected to qualify in their primary entry, it puts Pippa Mann (No. 63 Susan G. Komen Honda) first in line, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet). Gabby Chaves (No. 88 Harding Racing Chevrolet) would be the 33rd driver in line.
All cars must be in the technical inspection line by 10:15 a.m. ET to secure their one guaranteed attempt that each entry is permitted. Once in the tech line, a minimum of three gallons of Sunoco E85R ethanol fuel is added to the car and it then goes through the pre-qualifying technical inspection.
The car must remain in its position in line at that point, with the only changes permitted after tech inspection involving front or rear wing angle adjustments and tire pressure adjustments. If a car pulls out of the line at any point before making its qualifying attempt, it forfeits the guaranteed opportunity – which could play a role should weather be a factor today.
Today’s qualifying runs from 11 a.m.-5:50 p.m. A qualifying attempt consists of two warmup laps before a team representative signals the starter to wave the green flag to begin the attempt. The qualifying attempt is four consecutive laps, with the cars placed in order by cumulative time of the four laps.
Once each car has made its guaranteed attempt or pulled out of the original qualifying line, any team may attempt to qualify again and better its time. There are two way to do so.
The first is to withdraw the car’s previously posted time and move into the “Fast Lane” to qualify again. Cars yet to post a qualifying time also go into the Fast Lane when ready to make an attempt. This line of cars has priority for qualifying the rest of the session.
Lane 2 of qualifying is for teams that do not wish to withdraw their car’s previous time but wish to qualify again in hopes of improving it. If a car makes an attempt from Lane 2 and improves its time, the better time stands. If not, the original time remains.
There is no limit to the number of attempts a car may make today.
At the end of today’s qualifying, the fastest nine qualifiers are locked into Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout for the Verizon P1 Award and $100,000 that go to the pole winner, as well as the rest of the first three rows of starting positions for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Those not reaching the fast nine today move on to Group 1 qualifying Sunday to determine race starting positions 10-33. If a car is unable to complete its guaranteed qualifying attempt today due to a mechanical issue or an on-track incident, it is placed in Group 1 qualifying for Sunday.
Times from today’s qualifying are erased for Sunday and all cars must make one four-lap attempt. Cars in Group 1 qualify in reverse order of where they finished Saturday, from 2:45-4:45 p.m. The Fast Nine Shootout takes place from 5-5:45 p.m. Sunday, with the cars again qualifying in reverse order from where they placed Saturday.
Let the drama and excitement begin.
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