What to Know for Indy 500 Qualifying This Weekend

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis 500 Time Trials are upon us, as the field of 33 will be set this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But, like in the last few years, the field will be provisionally set on Saturday, then on Sunday, all 33 drivers will requalify for their starting spots for next Sunday’s 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network).

Like last year, we have 33 cars going for 33 spots, so Saturday will see everyone lock themselves in to make the show. The only real drama will be drivers going for the Fast Nine. And by drama, I mean DRAMA.

The reason to be in the Fast Nine, is the pole sitter for this year’s ‘500 gets 42 points. Yes, virtually a race win is on the line as the winner of a standard race throughout the season get 50 points. Second place gets 40, so really a race win is on the line this weekend. 

The second starter for this year’s Indy 500 will receive 40 points and points awarded will decrease by two-point increments down to 10th fastest (24 points). Starting with 11th fastest (23 points), each succeeding qualifying position will decrease in one-point increments down to one point for 33rd position.

With that being said, once the gun fires to signify the end of qualifying at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, the top nine cars are locked in to requalify for those 42 coveted points on Sunday. Spots 10-33 will requalify for their positions as well.

That’s why you’ll see so many attempts to get into the Fast Nine on Saturday. The attempts are unlimited, so you will see some drivers make up to five or six qualifying attempts that day. That’s about as stressful as you get too.

For those that don’t know, making a four-lap qualifying run at the 2.5-mile famed oval is as intense of a time for any race car driver. Imagine driving flat out going 230+ mph over the course of four laps virtually holding your breath with g-forces as strong as an astronaut on take off from a spaceship all while it feels like your car is driving on ice. Doing that once will make a grown man weap. Imagine doing that FOUR times in one day.

Then, you have to come back and do it all over again tomorrow.

Also, imagine that potentially making or breaking your shot at a championship too. That my friends is qualifying for the Indy 500.

That starts at 2:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, as 33rd fastest on Saturday will qualifying first, 32nd will qualify second, down to 10th quickest on Saturday qualifying last. Those spots will be locked in.

The thinking behind this is, there should be bumping for the top spots as the qualifying session goes on.

Then, at 5 p.m. ET, the Firestone Fast Nine from Saturday will requalify. Ninth will go first, eighth will qualify second, down to the quickest on Saturday going last. Again, it adds drama as the round goes on.

For Sunday, everyone gets one lone attempt of qualifying. At 5:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, the field of 33 will be set.

Time Trials Schedule:

Saturday May 20:

11 am – 6 pm ET Qualifications (Positions 1-9, and 10-33 will be provisionally set)

ABC to broadcast live from 4-6 pm ET

Sunday May 21:

2:45 pm – 4:45 pm ET Qualifications (Positions 10-33, 1 attempt)

5 pm – 5:45 pm ET Qualifications (Fast Nine, 1 attempt)

ABC to broadcast 4-6 pm ET

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