It probably won’t please the sport’s purists, but the IndyCar Series officials have announced several changes to the qualifying format for May’s iconic Indianapolis 500 race, which are intended to increase trackside and TV audiences by creating more excitement.

This year’s event will feature three time trial sessions over May 17-18’s ‘Qualifying Weekend’, building up to the traditional battle for pole positions honours.

On the Saturday, the fastest 33 prequalifiers will each be given at least one four-lap attempt to qualify, out of which the nine fastest entries will advance to the ‘Fast Nine Shootout’.

Sunday will see separate sessions to determine the final grid order. Those who finished up outside the ‘Fast Nine’ will have their Saturday qualifying times erased with a separate three-hour session being held in the morning to determine their starting order.

The ‘Fast Nine’ will then follow, with each driver – starting from the slowest Saturday qualifier to the fastest – being given one four-lap run as they battle for the Verizon P1 Award and the coveted pole position for the following weekend’s race.

“This new format includes two exciting days of on-track action, all culminating on Sunday with the Fast Nine Shootout,” said Mark Miles, CEO, Hulman Motorsports, the parent company of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Fans get to watch their favorite drivers battle to make the field on Saturday, and then fight for a pole position on Sunday. It will be a great show for fans attending the race and watching the broadcast on ABC.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.