Indy 500 Qualifying Format, Qualifying Draw for Day 1

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Chances are you may have forgotten or not fully remembered the new qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500 that’s coming into play this year.

In a few sentences, here’s my best shot at explaining it: You qualify today for race pit positioning, points (33 for first down to 1 for 33rd), and a shot at Sunday’s Fast Nine shootout. Tomorrow’s qualifying then actually sets the starting order for the race, with two segments to cover 10-33, and again from 1-9.

In other words, every driver and car is gonna have to strap in and go fast for four laps, at least twice.

Luckily, INDYCAR has put together a “Qualifying 101” for today – here is how it reads:

SATURDAY QUALIFYING

• All entries are guaranteed one attempt to qualify between 11 a.m. and 5:50 p.m.
• The fastest 33 cars will make up the provisional field for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race based on the fastest four-lap average time.
• Once the qualifying session ends, the top 30 cars are locked in to the field.
• However, all 33 cars must re-qualify on Sunday to determine final starting positions.
• The fastest nine cars advance to a shootout on Sunday to determine the Verizon P1 Award.

Qualifying Lines: 

• There will be two qualifying lines at the end of pit lane:
o Line 1: Cars that are unqualified or have withdrawn their previous qualifying times. Priority will be given to this lane.
o Line 2: Cars that have already qualified but want another attempt and have not withdrawn their previous qualifying times.
•  Multiple attempts are permitted without withdrawing a time by entering Line 2.
•  Teams can withdraw their time and enter Line 1, which will have priority over cars already in the field.
•  Teams that make multiple attempts can only improve their times if they have not withdrawn their time to enter Line 2, meaning, even if a driver records a slower four-lap average, that driver’s previous (faster) time will stand.

Qualifying Points, Saturday

1st – 33 points
2nd – 32 points
3rd – 31 points
4th – 30 points
5th – 29 points
6th – 28 points
7th – 27 points
8th – 26 points
9th – 25 points
10th – 24 points
11th – 23 points
12th – 22 points
13th – 21 points
14th – 20 points
15th – 19 points
16th – 18 points
17th – 17 points
18th – 16 points
19th – 15 points
20th – 14 points
21st  – 13 points
22nd – 12 points
23rd – 11 points
24th – 10 points
25th – 9 points
26th – 8 points
27th – 7 points
28th – 6 points
29th – 5 points
30th – 4 points
31st – 3 points
32nd – 2 points
33rd – 1 point

SUNDAY QUALIFYING

Group 1:

• All Saturday times are erased and positions 10-30 will re-qualify to determine starting position.
• Order will be the reverse of Saturday’s rankings.
• Lineup will be determined based on fastest four-lap averages.
• In the event that there are only 33 cars entered, this group will determine positions 10-33.

Group 2 (Only used in the event there are more than 33 cars):

• All Saturday times are erased and positions 31-33, and any entry that has yet to make one attempt to qualify, will re-qualify to determine the 11th row of the race.

Group 3:

• The top nine cars will run in reverse order based on Saturday’s times.
• All cars will make one attempt.
• At the end of the session, the cars are ranked 1-9 based on their four-lap average during the segment.

Qualifying Points, Sunday:

1st – 9 points
2nd – 8 points
3rd – 7 points
4th – 6 points
5th – 5 points
6th – 4 points
7th – 3 points
8th – 2 points
9th – 1 point

Note: The Indianapolis 500 will award double points for race results, but the qualifying points and any bonus points awarded for leading a lap (1 point) or most laps (2 points) will not be doubled.

And now, with that in mind, here’s the qualifying draw for today’s run. Teams have until 7 p.m. tonight to declare to INDYCAR if anyone wants to add an extra, what would be 34th car. Qualifying runs from 11-5:50 today (check local listings).

Num Car Driver Best Speed
1 8T Ryan Briscoe 219.745
2 91 Buddy Lazier 218.277
3 34 Carlos Munoz 227.938
4 21 JR Hildebrand 229.384
5 2 Juan Pablo Montoya 229.205
6 9 Scott Dixon 229.062
7 67T Josef Newgarden No Speed
8 20 Ed Carpenter 230.522
9 9T Scott Dixon 220.226
10 98 Jack Hawksworth 228.176
11 18 Carlos Huertas 224.242
12 8 Ryan Briscoe 226.072
12A 3 Helio Castroneves 229.843
14 27T James Hinchcliffe No Speed
15 19 Justin Wilson 225.058
16 63 Pippa Mann 223.984
17 68T Alex Tagliani No Speed
18 41 Martin Plowman 228.036
19 25 Marco Andretti 229.419
20 77T Simon Pagenaud No Speed
21 5T Jacques Villeneuve No Speed
22 26 Kurt Busch 224.739
23 11T Sebastien Bourdais No Speed
24 7 Mikhail Aleshin 227.822
25 83T Charlie Kimball 221.845
26 15 Graham Rahal 223.478
27 27 James Hinchcliffe 228.115
28 14T Takuma Sato No Speed
29 5 Jacques Villeneuve 227.682
30 22T Sage Karam No Speed
31 18T Carlos Huertas No Speed
32 12 Will Power 225.899
33 34T Carlos Munoz No Speed
34 28T Ryan Hunter-Reay No Speed
35 17 Sebastian Saavedra 226.137
36 33 James Davison 217.052
37 77 Simon Pagenaud 228.544
38 16T Oriol Servia No Speed
39 12T Will Power No Speed
40 83 Charlie Kimball 224.544
41 10 Tony Kanaan 224.836
42 98T Jack Hawksworth No Speed
43 67 Josef Newgarden 229.276
44 6 Townsend Bell 225.484
45 15T Graham Rahal No Speed
46 3T Helio Castroneves No Speed
47 2T Juan Pablo Montoya No Speed
48 63T Pippa Mann No Speed
49 68 Alex Tagliani 227.394
50 10T Tony Kanaan 220.755
51 22 Sage Karam 223.903
52 14 Takuma Sato 227.741
53 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 228.603
54 7T Mikhail Aleshin No Speed
55 16 Oriol Servia 226.387
56 19T Justin Wilson No Speed
57 25T Marco Andretti No Speed
58 11 Sebastien Bourdais 226.351
59 20T Ed Carpenter No Speed
60 41T Martin Plowman No Speed

Castroneves remains on top of his game even if results don’t shown it

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Sixth, ninth and fourth are results that seem typical for Helio Castroneves of late. The Brazilian, now 41 and in his 20th season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, remain in that good-but-not-great department but prove the Team Penske driver is still among the best in the series.

And typical of his luck the last few years, circumstances outside his control continue to extend a winless drought that is at 46 races and counting since winning Detroit race two in 2014. Interestingly, Castroneves won his 46th career start back in 2000 – also at Detroit – and until this recent run of form, he’d never had a winless run anywhere that long anywhere close the rest of his career.

He won races every year from 2000 through 2014, with the exception of 2011. Even without gracing the top step of the podium, Castroneves has still finished fifth and third in points the last two years, extending his incredible run of form to 13 top-five finishes in the standings in 17 full seasons with Team Penske.

So to start his 18th year with Penske, 20th overall, missed opportunities have again stuck out. But at sixth in points, it’s not been a brutal start to the year.

“The first race, Honda came out really strong, then at Long Beach we had a phenomenal opportunity, but had a little issue with the engine, and last week as a team at Team Penske we were able to capitalize, but not my team with the No. 3 car,” Castroneves told NBC Sports.

“Finishing top four, it felt like we were a little better than that. But when you have three other great teammates. One day it’s someone’s day – and for us as a team, we were happy Josef (Newgarden) got his first win and gave us more points.”

Castroneves sustained a minor over boost penalty coming out of the hairpin on the rough Long Beach circuit, and that was enough to drop him first to sixth by the first corner. Having later been issued a pit speed violation, Castroneves was left to take the ninth place finish there.

“To put a great lap together and make it happen, I was then so sad to have the boost penalty to go from first to sixth first corner,” he said.

But the fact he still got the pole – his third straight at Long Beach as the only Chevrolet in the Firestone Fast Six and the 52nd of his illustrious career – shows how good he still is.

“It’s such a great feeling. At a place like Long Beach, straightaway, we knew we didn’t have any advantage in those circumstances,” he said. “It was up to us to not find an excuse, and note we have to find other ways to face those challenges.”

Castroneves heads to this weekend’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN) where he’s already got a pole to defend in his No. 3 REV Group Chevrolet.

But he isn’t a fan of INDYCAR moving the qualifying back to nighttime conditions (Friday, 11 p.m. ET, NBC Sports App and airs Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), as he says it doesn’t reward drivers who can afford to trim the car out more on edge in the heat of the day.

“It’s a shame we’re doing qualifying at night,” Castroneves said. “I think it separates it from who can do more in the difficult conditions to more where everyone can do it. That’ll be different from last year. But you still have to have a very good car to go around at Phoenix.

“In warmer conditions, say the track temp is 120, air of 80, it makes it very hard to go flat out unless you have good car. At night, it’ll be under 100 if not less, so that’s 20-30 degrees difference before. Everyone’s car gains about 100-200 pounds of downforce. That helps the car stick better.”

Phoenix has been an integral part of Castroneves’ career, dating to the mid-1990s when he and longtime friend and rival Tony Kanaan tested for Steve Horne’s Tasman Motorsports Indy Lights team, ahead of their eventual battle for the 1997 championship.

For Castroneves, it holds a special place. It was the first oval he tested on. It was where he made his first start under the IRL banner (when CART and IRL were still separated) in 2001, as a warm-up act for that year’s Indianapolis 500 – the first of three ‘500s he’s won.

And it was where, in February, Castroneves singlehandedly was involved in the first step of the future planning for the new Phoenix Raceway, scheduled for completion in fall of 2018. He took the wheel and control of a Caterpillar excavator as part of the groundbreaking ceremony at the series’ open test here in February.

“I thought man if I made a mistake, there was a car around there!” he laughed. “It would be on ESPN’s Top 10 most bizarre moments!

“But the person who was guiding me talked about the moves, and I got this. It was so cool to be part of it with how much the track would change. We’re just hoping it will be a great renovation.”

And if Castroneves’ career continues to roll on, he’ll be part of the next generation track here as well.

Williams to auction Russian GP race-worn gear for Billy Monger

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Williams Martini Racing will make a difference in trying to support Billy Monger, the young driver who lost his legs in an F4 accident earlier this month but who has already received several hundred thousand pounds of funding to help pay for his medical costs.

The team announced Wednesday it would auction off Felipe Massa’s firesuit and Lance Stroll’s boots from this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix via eBay. A link to bid is here. Funds will go to Monger’s JustGiving page.

It’s an excellent gesture from the team and perhaps the start of even more stakeholders in the racing community to support the young teenager.

MRTI: Barber weekend digest

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Here’s some thoughts following the second weekend of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires this season, at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend (additional notes from Tony DiZinno in his post-weekend column here).

Askew-se me While I Play Through?

It was not a perfect weekend for Oliver Askew. Calvin Ming did pip him for fastest lap during practice.

Okay, that line was entirely sarcastic. Simply put: Askew crushed the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda field at Barber Motorsports Park. He claimed pole in both races, led every lap in both races, and won both races.

Askew was dominant at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

In the grand scheme of things, it is not surprising that Askew swept the weekend and has claimed three victories in a row, dating back to Race 2 in St. Petersburg (for reference he was second in Race 1 that weekend, making his average finishing position a staggering 1.25 through four races). Cape Motorsports has won every USF2000 championship since 2011. With Askew, a 2016 Team USA Scholarship recipient and winner of the inaugural USF2000 Scholarship Shootout in December at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, joining the fray, everything on paper indicated another championship run was likely.

But, a new chassis, in this case the Tatuus USF-17, often provides a reset button, allowing other teams a chance to close the gap. And while the likes of Team Pelfrey, Pabst Racing Services, and Exclusive Autosport have all been featured on the podium, Cape Motorsports and Askew have distinguished themselves as title favorites four races into the season.

My MotorsportsTalk colleague Tony DiZinno called the weekend’s performance an “Ask-kicking,” and there can be no arguing the dominance of Askew and Cape Motorsports at the moment.

Kaylen Frederick a “Baby Face” on the Rise

Outside of Askew, 14-year-old Kaylen Frederick, the youngest driver on the circuit, was the shining star at Barber Motorsports Park. The young Frederick pushed Askew in the final laps of Race 1 to finish second and backed it up with a consistent Race 2 to again finish second.

Frederick (right) finished second in both USF2000 races at Barber. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

While winning is the ultimate goal, Frederick was more than happy with the weekend’s results. “I took advantage of what I could today – the Cooper tires wore well so I could just keep my head down and focus,” he said following Race 1. “It took a while to get comfortable with all the high-speed corners and the compressions. It was hard for me to get the confidence to go into those corners with that much speed but it’s all clicked now.”

Along with Rinus Van Kalmthout, with whom Frederick is currently tied for second in the championship, Frederick may be emerging as the biggest threat to Askew in the championship chase. It’s early days for the season, but Frederick is beginning to establish himself as a title contender.

Hertamania 2.0 Weathers the Barber Storms

The rain wasn’t the only storm the drivers of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series had to weather at Barber. A chaotic start to Race 1 saw officials wave it off, and carnage ensued. Perhaps the most notable driver impacted was points leader Colton Herta.

The 17-year-old clipped the left-rear of polesitter Kyle Kaiser after the aborted start, damaging his front wing and forcing an emergency pit stop. He then suffered a penalty after failing to maintain pace car speed, which put him at the back of the field when the race restarted.

However, his quiet though impressive charge to tenth helped limit the damage. Further, he caught a lucky break when Race 2 qualifying was rained out on Sunday morning. The rule book dictates the field is set by points in such circumstances, which put championship leader Herta on the pole. He immediately rocketed away when the race started and led all 35 laps on his way to winning by more than nine seconds.

What’s more, his win was marked with historic significance, as it was the 400th event in Indy Lights history. “I’m so happy to have won the 400th race, and to go into the history books of the series. But the first thing that crossed my mind at the checkered flag was relief – it’s such a physical track so when you’re out in front with a sizable gap, it’s a long race,” Herta said following his Sunday triumph.

All told, he took a weekend that looked to be going badly and completely turned it around. He now leads Kyle Kaiser by 16 points ahead of another double-header at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in May.

The Unlucky Pato O’Ward

The 2017 season got off to a dream start for the soon-to-be 18-year-old Pato O’Ward. Class wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring were buoyed by a strong opening Indy Lights weekend at St. Petersburg, where he recorded finishes of fifth and third.

However, Lady Luck was not on his side at Barber. O’Ward was one of several drivers to suffer damage after the Race 1 start was aborted, as he actually drove over the back of Santi Urrutia’s machine. O’Ward pitted to replace the front wing, but was able to climb back up to eighth at race’s end.

Sunday’s Race 2, however, was a different story. A first-lap collision with Zachary Claman De Melo sent him spinning into the gravel. Though he was able to return to the pits, damage was too severe to continue, relegating to a 15th-place finish.

For a driver who has enjoyed a memorable 2017 so far, O’Ward’s weekend at Barber Motorsports Park was one to forget.

The Mazda Road to Indy now takes a three-week break before all three series resume action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course on May 12-13.

Pippa Mann adds Lamborghini ST to schedule in all-female entry

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Pippa Mann, who will seek to make her sixth start in the Indianapolis 500 a little over one month from now with Dale Coyne Racing, will have additional races on her plate this year in an all-female driver entry in this year’s Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America championship.

Mann and Jackie Heinricher, herself a sports car veteran with some Lamborghini ST experience, are among a four-car entry for the Prestige Performance team in the IMSA-sanctioned series, which is operationally run with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship powerhouse team Wayne Taylor Racing.  They’ll share the team’s No. 57 Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 in the pro/am division.

“I am thrilled to be joining Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing for the 2017 Super Trofeo season. Learning a new car, a new team, a new series, and new tracks will be a big learning experience for me, and I’m extremely excited not only to have this opportunity, but to have this opportunity with such a great team,” said Mann, who’s already had a couple tests in the car.

Heinricher added, “I am excited to be involved with Prestige and Wayne Taylor Racing in the season effort and for the incredible opportunity in joining a professional team for long-term growth in sports car racing.”

The other lineups see rising sports car star and a couple-time IMSA series champion Trent Hindman (in both Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Lamborghini) with Riccardo Agostini in the No. 1 car, and Alex Popow and Michele Beretta in the No. 10 car – both of those are pro/pro entries.

A fourth car, the No. 11 entry, has a lineup still to be determined and not yet confirmed. However, sports car aces Dion von Moltke and Stevan McAleer were posted on the No. 11 car for the Circuit of The Americas entry list.

“Wayne Taylor Racing is excited to step into the 2017 season with such a great list of drivers and to have David Wagener returning on our engineering side,” said Travis Houge, Team Manager, Wayne Taylor Racing.

“We are looking forward to continuing the success of last season. Similar to our other racing endeavors, we have worked hard to build a program that not only wins races but also builds lasting and successful partnerships. We feel we have found that with the Lamborghini Group.”

The Lamborghini ST season begins next weekend at COTA in Austin. The 12-race calendar is spread over six venues: COTA, Watkins Glen International in early July, Road America and VIR in August and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September, before the season finale and World Final run in Imola, Italy (former site of the San Marino Grand Prix) in November.