Report: Indianapolis 500 Pole Day moving to Sunday

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Changes will be made to the current Indianapolis 500 qualifying format, as Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star is now reporting that Pole Day will be shifted from its traditional Saturday afternoon spot to Sunday, May 18.

According to Cavin, IndyCar Series officials were hoping to have final details on the changes presented during this week’s winter meetings in Indianapolis with drivers and teams. However, that will not be the case.

Since the 2010 season, Pole Day on Saturday has featured the top 24 positions on the starting grid being set, with the exercise culminating with the pole-determining “Fast Nine” shootout for the top nine drivers.

However, Pole Day excitement on Saturday has been giving way to Bump Day boredom on Sunday. In each of the last two years, there have been no instances of bumping, as the final nine positions on the grid have been filled with very little drama (see last year’s Bump Day report here).

That won’t do for Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, who has made revitalizing the Month of May one of his biggest priorities during his tenure. On May 10, the IndyCar Series will stage their inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the reconfigured Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as a kickoff to preparations for the “500” on May 25.

At a sports marketing forum in Las Vegas this past December, Miles foreshadowed changes for Indy’s qualifying weekend that “some will think are heresy and some will think are tweaking.”

It appears we now know at least one of those changes. We’ll see if more comes down in the near-future.

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”