Indy 500 qualifying format, schedule modified

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INDYCAR has modified the Indianapolis 500’s new qualifying format to allow teams that haven’t made the field on the first day of qualifying to go for a position on the last row of the grid during the second day.

With this change, starting positions 31-33 for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing will now be provisional at the end of qualifying on Saturday, May 17.

Those cars, plus any entry that has not yet made the field but declares its intent to qualify to INDYCAR by 7 p.m. ET that Saturday, will hold a separate qualifying session on Sunday, May 18 to determine the 11th ‘Row of 3.’

“We realized the need to provide teams that suffer an unexpected hardship on Saturday a second chance to make the Indianapolis 500,” INDYCAR president of competition Derrick Walker said in a statement.

“The changes apply primarily for cars that crash or suffer a mechanical failure during their Saturday qualifying run. Ultimately, we will capture the fastest 33 cars and that’s who will make the race.”

Thus, the qualifying schedule on Sunday, May 18 will look like this:

  • Group One: 10:15-12:15 p.m. ET – Determines starting positions 10-30
  • Group Two: 12:45-1:30 p.m. ET – Determines positions 31-33
  • The Fast Nine Shootout: 2-2:45 p.m. ET – Determines the Verizon P1 Award winner and first three rows of the race.

Additionally, INDYCAR has announced an extra day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 19, which will be held from 12-5 p.m. ET.

Walker said that the extra session is designed to help teams focus on their race setups after being completely focused on qualifying setups that previous weekend.

“Previously, a majority of teams have utilized most of Sunday for full-tank running, so it was important for us to continue to give them that opportunity after qualifications are complete,” he added.

Back in March, INDYCAR announced its initial version of the new ‘500’ qualifying format, which has the nine fastest drivers on Saturday, May 17 advancing into the next day’s Shootout session for the pole.

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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