IRL: Questions and answers on Indy 500 qualifying format

Q&A: New Indianapolis 500 qualifying format INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2004 -- Questions and answers about the new qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500: The new format will debut during the 89th Indianapolis 500 in May 2005. MBNA...

Q&A: New Indianapolis 500 qualifying format

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2004 -- Questions and answers about the new qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500:

The new format will debut during the 89th Indianapolis 500 in May 2005. MBNA Pole Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, with Second Day Qualifying on Sunday, May 15, Third Day Qualifying on Saturday, May 21 and Bump Day on Sunday, May 22.

Among the highlights of the new format is the potential for cars being "bumped" out of the starting field by faster cars each of the four days of qualifying.

Question: Will drivers still make four-lap qualification attempts for the race?

Answer: Yes. Each driver's qualifying time and speed will be based on the aggregate time and average speed of four laps around the historic 2.5-mile oval.

Q: In the past, each entered car could make only three qualifying attempts. How many attempts are available for each car in the new format?

A: Each car has up to three qualifying attempts per day in the new format. Theoretically, a car could make 12 attempts to earn a spot in the field, three on each of the four qualification days.

Q: If a qualified car is withdrawn from the field, is it removed from competition like in the previous format?

A: No. A qualified car withdrawn from the field still can re-enter the qualification line and attempt to re-qualify based on the number of attempts remaining for that car.

Q: What happens if it rains on Bump Day?

A: If all 33 positions have been filled in the first three days of qualifying, the Fourth Day (Bump Day) is not required. If the field is not full, the Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials will work together to determine the amount of qualifying time provided to teams on the next available day.

Q: What if the 11 spots available on one of the first three days of qualifying are not filled on that day?

A: The balance of that day's spots would be added to the next day's spots and contested during the entire next day of qualifying.

Q: How many attempts to qualify does a driver who qualified on MBNA Pole Day have if bumped from the field on Bump Day?

A: Three. Each car has three qualification attempts per day.

Q: What if a driver on Second Day Qualifying records the same qualifying time and speed as a driver did on MBNA Pole Day?

A: Each of these drivers would qualify for the race and be positioned by where they qualified on their respective day. MBNA Pole Day qualifiers temporarily hold positions one through 11. The fastest Second Day qualifier will start 12th, with the slowest Second Day qualifier starting 22nd, etc. But if the time and speed are the slowest in the field, the driver who recorded the time and speed on the second day would be the first to be bumped.

Q: Is the qualifying line system still in place?

A: Yes. There will be a qualifying draw for MBNA Pole Day. Once every driver in that line has either made an attempt or passed on their attempt, the line is considered "broken," and the line is open for attempts by any driver or eligible car. When the qualifying day ends, all cars in line may reserve that spot for the following day. A draw then will be conducted for any cars not in line that wish to qualify.

Q: Why allow a bumped car back into the qualifying line?

A: This gives all drivers and all teams a legitimate shot at the race, including teams that may have only one car. A bumped car has to find the speed to get back in the field, which only increases the drama.

Q: A car qualified on MBNA Pole Day is withdrawn on Second Day Qualifying for whatever reason. Does that mean the fastest Second Day qualifier starts 11th or 12th?

A: If one of the 11 fastest qualifiers from MBNA Pole Day withdraws on the following day, that means the fastest qualifier of the Second Day will start 11th. Likewise, if an MBNA Pole Day car was withdrawn during Third Day Qualifying, then the fastest Third Day qualifier would start 22nd, not 23rd.

Q: Theoretically, can a driver make three qualifying runs in his primary car and three in his backup car in the same day?

A: Yes. Each car, whether it is a primary car or backup car, is allowed three qualification attempts per day.

Q: Can MBNA Pole Day qualifiers be bumped on Bump Day?

A: Yes, if an MBNA Pole Day qualifier's speed is slower than the rest of the field, that driver is on the "bubble" and can be bumped from the field.

Q: Is a driver or car truly "locked" in to the field?

A: No. On Bump Day, the slowest qualifier in the 33-car field is on the "bubble," regardless of what day that driver qualified, and can be bumped from the field. Though highly unlikely, the pole sitter could theoretically be bumped from the field.

Q: Will there be any need to wave off a driver on a qualifying run since the driver always can run the car again if it is too slow?

A: Yes. If a driver is trying to "bump" into one of the 11 spots on a qualifying day, a team will probably wave off a run if the driver is not up to speed.


2005 tickets: To purchase tickets, camping or parking for the 89th Indianapolis 500, contact the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY or log on to


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