Today, the star athletes of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES take a major step towards the 105th Indianapolis 500 race presented by Gainbridge by preparing most of the field for the May 30 race at the Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying in Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In the practice of “Quick Friday”, where teams received high levels of boost in the engine’s turbochargers, drivers achieved tow-free speeds above 230 mph.
Alexander Rossi appears to be a big favorite for the NTT P1 Award for pole. 2016 Indy 500 winner Rossi led the field on Friday at towless speeds in the # 27 Honda NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation with a fastest lap of 231.598 mph. Following him on the no-tow list were Graham Rahal in No. 15 United Rentals Honda at 231.518 mph and Pato O’Ward in No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet at 231.510 mph.
Scott Dixon, the reigning and reigning six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, will be the first rider to show up for qualifying this morning after Team Manager Mel Harder drew P1 for the 2008 Indy 500 winner. This will give the advantage of probably the coolest track temperatures for Dixon, who also recorded the fourth fastest non-towing speed on Friday at 231.502 and who is one of the big favorites to win his fourth career pole at Indianapolis 500. .
Marco Andretti, reigning Indy 500 NTT P1 Award winner, finished second, with Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2014 Indy 500 winner, third, three-time race winner and four-time pole winner Helio Castroneves fourth and Ed Jones fifth.
The action begins at 9:30 am ET with a one-hour practice session at Indianapolis 500, live on Peacock Premium. Next, Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying can be seen live on Peacock Premium from noon to 6 p.m. Live coverage can also be seen on NBC from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on NBCSN from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Here’s what you need to know to get ready for today’s qualifying session.
It’s not a walk in the park
The four-lap 10-mile race to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 is one of motorsport’s most daunting challenges.
Thirty-five drivers will attempt to complete four perfect laps with 16 turns at speeds above 230 mph just for a shot at one of 33 spots on the field for the Indianapolis 500. Even the slightest ticking of the steering wheel or a gust of wind can lower a driver’s speed. These pilots have to be perfect.
They must also be consistent. It’s not a one or two lap race. These drivers must do their best for four laps to try to qualify for “The Greatest Show in the Race”.
In practice for the Indianapolis 500, the drivers struggled to complete four laps at about the same speed, so consistency might be hard to find this year. Part of this was due to heavy traffic, which won’t be a problem today in qualifying for one car. But part of it was the challenge of riding the lightning when cars are cut out for sheer speed.
Watch the weather
The drivers will be spending a hot afternoon at Speedway, Indiana, with highs in the mid-80s and wind gusts to just under 10mph. Humidity is expected to be around 40% during qualifying at noon (ET) and is expected to drop to 36% by the end of qualifying at 5:50 pm.
The cooler the conditions, the faster the racing cars. In turn, a warmer race track will have less grip and result in slower speeds. That’s why Friday’s draw was so important. The earlier in the session these athletes are on the track, the better their chances of competing in the Fast Nine Shootout.
The weather will also be battle-in-battle later in the afternoon, once every pilot in the field has made a four-lap attempt and the session is open for anyone to make additional qualifying attempts.
Want to get out earlier in the afternoon when there might be more cloud cover? Or do you want to leave late in the session when the sun starts to drop in the sky and the track temperatures could be cooler? Keep in mind that at any time a cloud could move in front of the sun and cool the race track, or the wind could pick up in a certain direction which would be optimal for a qualifying race.
As you can see qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 is… complicated.
Today, the 35 drivers who attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 will be guaranteed a four-lap attempt. From there, the session will be open to all pilots to make as many qualifying attempts as time permits..
At the end of the day, riders who register average speeds from positions 10 to 30 will have their starting position locked. The nine fastest entries are locked in the Fast Nine Shootout on Sunday, while drivers between 31 and 35 will continue. in the last chance qualifying on Sunday, where two drivers will be sent off the field.
Now back to this question about cloud cover and wind gusts.
The pit lane will have two lanes in which teams can put their cars: the normal lane and the fast lane. Any team looking to improve their qualifying time without removing their set time will go into the normal lane.
But, if a team wants to rush onto the track to catch perfect conditions, or beat the clock at the end of the day, they can choose the fast lane. However, a car in this lane with a set time must remove the time before making the next four-lap race.
Obviously, there is some risk involved. Sometimes the reward pays off, sometimes it doesn’t.