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Indy 500 draw made - all you need to know about Qualifying

Written by Dan Jones


Credit: Joe Skibinski

As the sun sets on 'Fast Friday' at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, all attention now turns to qualifying for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500, with Saturday and Sunday seeing 33 drivers locked into their starting spots, whilst one individual's Indianapolis 500 dream will end before it's already begun. With the traditional 'draw' made, here's all you need to know ahead of two days on qualifying.


After an hour's practice on Saturday morning, where the engines are turned up and the 'boost' is active - drivers will start their qualifying runs for the Indianapolis 500. Contrary to any other motorsport event in the world, qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 do not take place over one lap.


Instead a qualification 'run' consists of four laps around the Speedway, with the combination of the four laps creating a four-lap average, meaning both man and machine need to be consistent not only for one lap, but for 10 miles of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


And Saturday will see positions 13-30 locked into the field for the Indianapolis 500. All the drivers will have one guaranteed four-lap run, the order of which being decided by the 'draw,' the order in which the drivers will attempt their four-lap runs in. Drivers tend to prefer an earlier draw, where track temperatures are cooler, and with less pressure as there are less times on the board.


Credit: Karl Zemlin

Qualifying lasts a total of seven hours - so it's not a quick process. Once all 34 drivers have completed their one guaranteed run, the remaining time in the day gives the drivers the chance to lock themselves into the field, or give them the chance to return on Sunday. In pitlane, drivers will face a choice of two options.

Lane One: Abandon your time posted on the board, but get priority into being the next car on track. A high risk option - particularly if you end up crashing. Expect drivers lower down the order prioritise Lane One, in order to not be forced to compete for their space in the field on Sunday.


Lane Two: Keep your current time, but you must wait for all drivers in Lane One to complete their next attempts. A much safer option, which usually causes a huge queue in pitlane. Expect drivers just outside the Fast 12 drivers to go for this option.


Kirkwood will lead the runs tomorrow. Credit: James Black

Drivers can make as many runs as they like, it's up to the teams from a strategy standpoint. Drivers did 84 runs last year on Saturday. Each run will take approximately five minutes - drivers having two warm-up laps, their four qualifying laps and a cool down lap. But let's look at the order the drivers will go tomorrow in their guaranteed attempts - remember, earlier is better!


1 - Kirkwood

2 - McLaughlin

3 - Simpson

4 - VeeKay

5 - Grosjean

6 - Larson

7 - Canapino

8 - Ilott

9 - Power

10 - Newgarden

11 - Armstrong

12 - Siegel

13 - Ferrucci

14 - Lundgaard

15 - Ericsson

16 - Lundqvist

17 - Andretti

18 - Carpenter

19 - Legge

20 - Daly

21 - Fittipaldi

22 - Blomqvist

23 - O'Ward

24 - Rosenqvist

25 - Palou

26 - Sato

27 - Dixon

28 - Robb

29 - Herta

30 - Hunter-Reay

31 - Rasmussen

32 - Rahal

33 - Castroneves

34 - Rossi


Once time is up on Saturday, positions 13-30 are locked into next week's 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The fastest twelve will battle for pole, whilst the slowest four will battle to get into the field.


Sunday will see the 'Fast 12' shootout. The fastest 12 from Saturday will do one qualifying attempt in reverse order of Saturday's results (12th place on Saturday goes first, 1st place goes 12th). The Fastest Six in the 'Fast 12' will then progress to the 'Fast 6,' whilst positions 7-12 are locked in.


We will then head to the other side of the leaderboard for 'Last Chance Qualifying.' All four drivers will get one guaranteed attempt. There is an hour on the clock, so cars can make as many attempts as they like until the clock is up. Once the hour has passed, positions 31-33 will be locked in, and the slowest of the four will see their Indianapolis 500 dream already over.


Who will replicate Palou? Credit: Chris Jones

The 'Fast 6' will then battle it out in reverse order from their 'Fast 12' results, with the fastest claiming pole for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500, with the field locked in for the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' on May 28th.


Expect fast, very fast. Speeds will likely reach 234mph average over 10 miles, last year saw Álex Palou touch the 235mph mark on multiple occasions. It will be very quick, but there's plenty to keep your eye out for as the field is locked into the Indianapolis 500.

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