Here’s how #2inTO IndyCar qualifying works

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See the qualifying groups for Friday’s session linked here.

In case you need a refresher on how IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying works (Friday night, 5:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) for these doubleheader weekends, see the below note from IndyCar. Basically, qualifying for race one is as normal for a single-race road or street course weekend, and race two qualifying will be determined by a second session held Saturday morning.

Race 1 (three segments to determine Verizon P1 Award winner; 3:10 p.m. Friday)

Segment 1

All cars shall participate in one of the two groups for 10 minutes per group inclusive of full-course yellow conditions, with six cars posting best lap times from each group advancing to Segment 2. Group 2 will begin its session 5 minutes after the checkered flag of Group 1.

Cars not advancing in Segment 2 will fill positions 13 through the end of the starting field to be ranked in order of best lap time as follows: Group 1 shall occupy the odd-numbered positions beginning with 13 and Group 2 will occupy the even-numbered positions beginning with 14.

Segment 2

Shall consist of one 10-minute, 12-car qualifying group inclusive of full-course yellow conditions, with all times from Segment 1 having been voided. Six cars posting the best lap times will advance to Segment 3 (the Firestone Fast Six).

Cars not advancing to Segment 3 will fill positions 7-12 to be ranked in order of time.

Segment 3 (Firestone Fast Six)

Consists of one 10-minute, six-car qualifying group, of which five minutes is guaranteed green-flag time, with all times from Segment 2 voided. Session shall begin 10 minutes after checkered flag of Segment 2.

Race 2 (10:50 a.m. Saturday)

All cars will participate in one of two groups for 12 minutes each, with five minutes of guaranteed green-flag time. Qualifying group will be determined by the combined times posted by entries during the practice session a day earlier.

Group 1 will consist of odd-numbered positions on the practice time sheet, while even-numbered positions will comprise Group 2.

The starting field positions will be determined by the best time ranking of the two groups combined, from fastest to slowest, with the fastest qualifier occupying the pole position.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “