Mar 7, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
A new qualifying format has emerged at the Indianapolis 500. And the pressure of one of motorsport’s greatest challenges has increased to go along with it.
As part of the new rules, every car in the field will now have to undergo the four-lap, 10-mile blitz around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at least twice.
And Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 National Guard Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, has acknowledged that the stress for drivers and teams is certain to rise.
“I can tell you the biggest sigh of a relief as a driver is when you got in on Saturday, and on Sunday you didn’t have to think about doing four more laps,” Rahal said during an INDYCAR teleconference today that featured Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles and INDYCAR president of competition Derrick Walker.
“Now we have to think about that all the time. I’m sure there’s going to be more tension, a bit more nerve-wracking for everybody involved. But that’s what it’s all about. That’s why these drivers and teams are the best in the world.”
Saturday, May 17 will see the fastest 33 entries qualify for the race, with the fastest nine advancing to the next day’s Fast Nine shootout for the pole position.
However, those Saturday times will be erased and entries in positions 10-33 will re-qualify on Sunday in order of the slowest to fastest Saturday times to determine their official starting positions.
The Fast Nine will then take place, with each entry in that shootout getting one qualifying attempt.
While Rahal says it’ll lead to more tension among the competitors, he is also cognizant of the ultimate goal that INDYCAR hopes to achieve with the new format: Bigger TV numbers and attendance at the Brickyard.
Bump Day activity on Sunday has been a lowlight of the Month of May in recent times, with no bumping achieved at all in the 2012 and 2013 qualifying sessions. The new format should, at the least, put some more excitement into Sunday.
“I think everybody [in the paddock] is going to be very supportive,” Rahal said. “Of course, there are traditionalists out there that believe we didn’t need to change anything.
“The one thing I do know about IndyCar drivers and the teams alike is everybody is supportive and behind Mark and Derrick, everybody making these decisions because we all want to grow the sport. We all want to see the fan base increase.”
As for giving teams enough time to practice on their set-ups for Race Day itself, Walker said that INDYCAR is working to ensure that teams will have time available for that purpose – adding that the series hoped to get a final schedule out to teams sometime next week.
“In terms of allowing or helping any teams that are trying to get in the show, we’re going to do our best to make sure there’s always available time for every competitor, and every competitor gets an equal attempt to get in the race,” he said.
Even with that assurance, the margin of error has now thinned even further with this new format. With Sunday no longer there as a safety net, drivers and teams must be quick from the get-go.
“I would say what they’ve done here has added a lot of pressure to everybody involved to make sure you’re on top of your game on both days,” Rahal said. “So there’s no fall-back plan on a Sunday anymore. You have to make sure you get it done right away.”
May 24, 2015, 10:27 AM EDT
Rosberg claims his third consecutive victory in Monaco after Mercedes wrongly pits Lewis Hamilton late on.
May 24, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton looked poised to win the race in Monaco, only for a mistake by the Mercedes team to hand victory to teammate Nico Rosberg.
May 24, 2015, 9:09 AM EDT
The Andretti Autosport driver has been recognized when he least expects it since drinking the milk last season
May 24, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT
What to watch for in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.
May 24, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton will lead away the grid in Monaco ahead of Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.
May 24, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT
To what effect the tow effect of the new super speedway aero kits will have on passing Sunday remains to be seen.
May 24, 2015, 6:45 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton goes in search of his second Monaco win on Sunday, but can Nico Rosberg stop him and claim a hat-trick of victories around the streets of the principality?
May 24, 2015, 6:15 AM EDT
The F1 supremo explains how Lewis Hamilton’s love of the limelight and fame is doing wonders for the sport.
May 24, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT
MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno analyzes the chances of each of the 33 drivers for this year’s Indianapolis 500.
May 24, 2015, 5:08 AM EDT
Weiron Tan and Jake Eidson are winners Saturday at the artist/track formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park.
May 23, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT
Chip Ganassi Racing driver will make his 300th career start Sunday.
May 23, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
After taking the lead at the start, Stanaway goes wire-to-wire to take his first GP2 win in Monaco.
May 23, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
Spaniard suffers another issue on his car during qualifying on Saturday, leaving him P15 on the grid before penalties.
May 23, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
The Audi Sport ABT driver delivers a crushing win in Berlin at the disused Tempelhof airport, only to then be disqualified in the hours following the race.
May 23, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
Live coverage from Glen Helen starts with the pre-race show at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra and continues with first motos at 5 p.m. ET. Second motos will be live on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET.
May 23, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Red Bull driver matches his best qualifying result of the season, but feels a top three grid slot was within reach.
May 23, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
A pink Camaro, a Justin Bieber reference and an improved maturity level: all in the second month of May for Chip Ganassi’s rising star, Sage Karam.
May 23, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Lotus driver will start tomorrow’s race from 15th place on the grid.
May 23, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT
Townsend Bell recaps a busy week, and a particularly busy Carb Day.
- Rosberg lucks in to third straight Monaco GP win after Mercedes’ mistake costs Hamilton victory 24
- 2015 Indy 500 driver-by-driver one-liners 0
- Bell: “Carb Day is many things to many people; mine was many jobs” 0
- Hamilton storms to first Monaco GP pole position 1
- Vettel fastest for Ferrari in final practice for Monaco GP 0
- Chip Ganassi lobbying for IndyCar schedule changes 0
- What to watch for: IndyCar, Indy Lights Carb Day (11 a.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra) 0