The NTT IndyCar Series will not alter its road and street course qualifying procedure in 2022.
As RACER reported back in November, in anticipation of a significant growth in full-time entries, IndyCar considered taking the opening stage of its Firestone Fast 12 qualifying procedure — which splits the field in half and transfers the six fastest cars from each group into the next round — and dividing it into thirds, thereby reducing the number of cars on track during those segments.
But with a full-time grid expected to have 25 entries outside the Indianapolis 500, rather than the 26-28 that seemed possible earlier in the offseason, any concerns of having routine qualifying traffic jams have dissipated. Granted, at some events, extra entries could push the grid to 28 or more cars, but those select instances aren’t enough to warrant an overhaul to the familiar qualifying process teams, drivers, and fans have come to know.
“We looked at it in many different ways, and we currently have the condensed version — 75 minutes for all the knockout rounds and the time between those rounds — and the intention is to keep it like we currently have it,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER.
Frye and race director Kyle Novak are keen to make one modification to the multi-stage qualifying procedure that could be ratified prior to the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in February.
“We’re looking to see if there’s a way we can speed up the current version, if we don’t need as much downtime between the groups,” Frye added. “So we’re going over what we currently do. We know it works as it stands, but we’re looking at it more from a procedural standpoint of how we do it. So I don’t envision anything changing about how we qualify in 2022, except seeing if we can save some time between groups and maybe reduce that 75-minute period if possible.”