Among the key complaints from Verizon IndyCar Series drivers last season, the random nature of setting qualifying orders on ovals was raised as a rule that could be improved.
As a result, the random lottery-style selection for all ovals, barring the Indy 500, will be replaced by the use of entrant points at Phoenix, Texas, Iowa, Gateway and Pocono, with the points leader qualifying last and the entry at the bottom of the points venturing out first.
The change is meant to address situations where front-running drivers have, at times, been required to qualify early among the 20-plus cars and found themselves adversely impacted by the green track conditions or unfavorable ambient conditions. By shifting the points leaders to the end of oval qualifying, the odds of of turning laps in a better, faster environment would likely improve.
“We wanted to eliminate randomness, and a random draw for oval qualifying [order] is as far as you can go in that direction,” IndyCar competition director Jay Frye told RACER. “We could have gone a lot of ways on how to set the order; fastest laps turned by the drivers in the practice before qualifying, but the idea of going off entrant points was the only one that had unanimous support from our teams when we proposed it. So that’s what we’ll do moving forward.”