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.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.