IndyCar’s competition team has addressed the overly-generous payout of qualifying points for the Indy 500 by slashing the number of markers awarded during time trials.
Where Scott Dixon, May’s polesitter, earned 42 points for taking the top starting spot in his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, the 2018 pole winner will receive nine points for the achievement.
Indy’s second-place qualifier in 2017 banked 40 points, third took 38, and points were paid all the way down to 33rd and last, where a single point was given to James Davison, who subbed for the injured Sebastien Bourdais. Under the new system, only the Fast Nine, which are locked into contention for pole position, will earn points using a simple payout of 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 from first to ninth. No points are on offer for 10th through 33rd.
Correcting the extreme points available in qualifying – considering that a win at a regular IndyCar race pays 50 points, just eight more than pole for the 500 – is among the more astute changes coming in the 2018 rulebook overseen by competition boss Jay Frye.
“There’s a dozen different way to do this, and based on how we’re going to go back and run qualifying as a two-day show, it’s important to make the points you can get for winning the pole something that still has an incentive, but doesn’t go too far,” Frye told RACER.
“It’s not like teams need an incentive to go for pole, so that’s where we felt it was best to still give out points for those who make it into the top nine, but it isn’t such a big prize that it gives an advantage or disadvantage in the championship. Going from 42 [points] for pole to nine is something we all said felt like it was the right direction.”