INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The new qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500 now allows any entry that has not made the field at the end of the first day of qualifying a chance to make the last row of the grid on the second day.
The IndyCar Series announced the changes on Monday.
The changes allow positions 31-33 to be provisional. Those cars, plus any entry not already in the field that has declared intentions to qualify for the race, will participate in a separate qualification session May 18 to determine the 11th row on the grid.
IndyCar also added an extra day of practice to the schedule. The session will be held May 19 after the 33-car field has been set.
“As our qualifying format evolves we continue to evaluate what is best for the competitors,” said Derrick Walker, IndyCar’s president of competition. “We realized the need to provide teams that didn’t get an attempt on Saturday an opportunity on Sunday to make the Indianapolis 500. Ultimately, we still capture the fastest 33 cars and that’s who will make the race.”
The qualifying changes come as IndyCar struggles to fill the 33-car field, making the once tension-filled Bump Day drama-free the last two years. Without additional entrants on hand trying to make the race, Sunday had become a glorified practice session.
By making qualifying stretch over two days, Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has become relevant again.