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Miles mulls potential Indianapolis 500 qualifying changes

Nov 9, 2013, 1:54 PM EDT

Indianapolis 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles filled out his executive leadership team on Thursday, and already the new hires C.J. O’Donnell and Jay Frye spoke optimistically about securing new sponsorship for IndyCar 2014.

Now, as part of Miles’ restructuring and attempts to rebuild the entire month of May, he has a potential idea for another set of changes to qualifying weekend for the Indianapolis 500.

The hat tip first goes to OpenWheelWorld.net contributor Steve Wittich for finding this on a Friday night, but Miles appeared on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick to discuss the mooted adjustments.

The two-day qualifying weekend as it currently stands, first instituted in 2010, has Pole Day on the Saturday and Bump Day the Sunday before the 500. On Pole Day, spots 1-24 are filled with the first three rows, positions 1-9, determined by a Firestone Fast Nine shootout in the afternoon. The polesitter is determined at the end of Saturday.

Bump Day fills spots 25-33, but for the past two years since the introduction of the new Dallara DW12 chassis and the new 2.2L V6 turbocharged engine formula, there has not been a single bump attempt. Engine manufacturers Honda and Chevrolet already add extra engines to their allotment for the ‘500; in 2012, some potential late entries were thwarted by a lack of engine availability while only one car, Michel Jourdain Jr.‘s third Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, missed this year’s race. And he never even got to make an attempt due to that car’s ill handling nature.

The net effect of that is that broadcasters have had to fill hours of airtime despite scarce on-track activity and limited drama. And Miles doesn’t want a wasted day of on-track action, so he’s outlined this potential plan on the show:

  • Saturday would see all spots 1-33 filled, but all qualifying speeds provisional and the order not finalized.
  • Sunday would see the order 1-33 determined, with spots 10-33 decided by a second day’s run and spots 1-9 again run in the final session to build the excitement for the pole position.

“We’re playing around with ways to make (qualifying weekend) more intriguing,” Miles said on the show. “Pole Day was Saturday and Bump Day was Sunday. We thought at this point that’s a little anticlimactic.

“In our mind, (this would) culminate at the end of Sunday, and I think that makes the two days even more competitive.”

Recent Indianapolis 500 qualifying procedures have included 11/11/11, with three days of 11 spots being filled before a Bump Day on the fourth day, from 2005 to 2009; a condensed three-day run was enforced from 2001 to 2004; it was Pole Day and Bump Day for two days from 1998 through 2000; and was four days prior to that.

No official confirmation has come from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or INDYCAR as to whether this idea will be implemented.

  1. wallio - Nov 9, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Go back to the four days of quali and two weeks of practice like it used to be. Aside from the engine shortage, the reason there are fewer Indy-specials entering is because you don’t get much time anymore to set the car up. Let them practice more and more will come.

    And bring back the equivalency formula. Indy always had one. Always. And it’d be a great way to increase car counts. 4.0L NA motors maybe?

  2. bennoj - Nov 9, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    This isn’t the first half of the 20th century anymore. Indy may be an iconic race, but the multi-day qualifying scheme is no longer relevant. Especially with the new road race at the beginning of the month compressing the whole “month of May” tradition its time for IMS to bite the bullet and run qualifying like every other race on the schedule.

  3. wallio - Nov 9, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Sure, if they want to kill their main event.

  4. indycarseries500 - Nov 9, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I can see something like the GP of Indianapolis on the 8,9 and 10. Oval open testing on the 11th, Track goes dark Monday-Wednesday, official practice on the 15th and 16th. Qualifying day Saturday the 17th practice 8-10, qualifications 12:00-7:00, practice on the 17th 11 to 2:00, Fast 9 shootout 2:30-3:30 (9 to 1, one attempt a piece), Practice 4-6. Race week unchanged.

    They don’t need hours and hours of practice these days, I even think my plan gives too much.

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