Organisers of the IndyCar Series have announced a change in the qualifying format for all remaining road-course and street-circuit events this season, with the changes coming into effect at this weekend’s round at Long Beach.
The format in use until now had seen a random ballot draw being used to decide which of the two qualifying groups each driver is allocated for the first phase of knockout qualifying.
The six-fastest drivers from each of the two Groups are then whittled down further after twelve-car ‘Round 2’ stage, becoming what is known as the ‘Fast Six’ shootout for pole position.
Those who fail to make it into the top-twelve stage then start from thirteenth place onwards, with one group taking one side of the grid, while the second group takes the other side.
The flaw with this system is that the randomly-assigned groups can offer differ in competitiveness from one another, which has led to drivers in one group qualifying behind their slower counterparts in the alternative group.
At last weekend’s Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, Group 1 contained all three Penske frontrunners and three of Ganassi’s four cars.
This weekend’s race at Long Beach will see the rules changed, whereby the group allocation will be determined by Friday practice times, with the cars who finish in odd-numbered positions on the timesheets being assigned to Group 1, while those who finished on even-numbered positions will be in Group 2.
“This change was made at the request of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, who were looking for a system that enhanced the competition,” said IndyCar competition boss Brian Barnhart.
“It puts a premium on Friday practice sessions and helps even out that groups, which couldn’t be achieved with a random draw.”
[Original image via LAT]
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