INDIANAPOLIS — With a steady dose of rain in the morning and early afternoon preventing Fasty Friday from even getting warmed up, talk turned to the new qualifying format that will utilized at the Indianapolis 500 this year.
Today every entered driver will get an opportunity to do the four-lap qualifying run. Drivers can make a second run without sacrificing the time on the first. Once the day is completed, the top 30 speeds are locked into the race.
Additionally, the top nine speeds will be locked into the first three rows.
On Sunday, drivers with speeds of 10-30 from Saturday, will have those times wiped away. They will qualify again on Sunday with only those times being used to determine starting order. After that qualifying is completed, any car not in the top 30, can make as many attempts as time permits with the top three times making up the final row of the starting grid.
Finally there will be the Top Nine Shootout. The top nine cars from Saturday will make one qualifying attempt to determine the starting grid for the first three rows.
"We talked last night, Helio (Castroneves) and I did, you have to be in that top nine (Saturday) for Sunday," said car owner Roger Penske. "I think it is going to be critical to get three cars in the top nine. We'll have qualifying at key TV time on Sunday. As we promote the sport, someone is thinking about strategy from the standpoint of how we can execute better and get more fans."
Will Power, one of Penske's three drivers, said, "First goal is to get in the top nine with not too much risk. You don't want to go in the wall. That puts you really on the back foot. Like I said before, we've got no feel for it right now, where we stack up. We'll have to see how the format plays out."
At 2:50 the cars turned their first laps on Friday, but it lasted only 19 minutes before moisture on the track caused the yellow to come out. But during that stretch, Ed Carpentier turned a lap of 230.522, the quickest of the week to that point.
About 90 minutes later the track was closed for the day. It will open at 8 a.m. today for practice and qualifying will begin at 11 a.m.