The 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 will feature a few revisions to its two-day qualification process.
Gone is the Fast 9, replaced by the Fast 12 followed by the Fast 6.
Where recent editions of Indy 500 qualifying locked the nine fastest drivers in on Saturday and carried them over to a special session on Sunday where those nine made single runs for pole position, the group has been expanded to include one more row, locking in the 12 fastest on Saturday.
In 2021, the drivers who filled positions 10 through 30 during Saturday’s qualifying session were also locked into place for the race and would not made additional runs on Sunday to try and improve their positions. That process remains unchanged, with the only change being a shift from 10-30 to 13-30 to reflect the expanded Fast 12 group.
A 90-minute practice session for all drivers is scheduled from 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday May 21, followed by open qualifying from 12-5:50 p.m. ET.
Another carryover, the LCQ — Last Chance Qualifying — session is also in place to be used if more than 33 entries are filed. If 34 or more cars attempt to qualify, the drivers who are outside the top 30 on Saturday will run in a special session on Sunday to fill the last row and bump those who are unable to crack positions 31-33.
As there are no expectations for more than 33 entries, the LCQ session is unlikely to be held, and in that scenario, Saturday’s qualifying session would lock in positions 13-33 and those entries would be done for the rest of the weekend.
Assuming there will be no need for the LCQ, two hours of LCQ practice and qualifying time will go unused on Sunday. The Fast 12 will have a 90-minute practice session from 12:30-2 p.m., followed by the Fast 12 at 4 p.m. and the run for the pole with the Fast 6 starting at 5:10 p.m.
According to IndyCar: “Starting in reverse order of speeds based on Day One, each of the top 12 drivers will have a guaranteed attempt to post a traditional four-lap qualifying time starting at 4 p.m. The fastest six will advance to the Firestone Fast Six at 5:10 p.m. to determine positions one through six and compete for the NTT P1 Award for pole.
“The slowest six will fill out starting positions seven through 12 according to their recorded time. In the Firestone Fast Six, each entrant is again guaranteed one attempt and will qualify in reverse order based on their Top 12 qualification results. The fastest wins pole position, which includes a $100,000 prize, with the remaining five drivers filling out the remainder of the first two rows.”
IndyCar will continue the use of its slow lane/fast lane system on pit lane on Saturday, and for those who are taking part in Sunday’s qualifying activities, championship points will be offered.
“2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship points will be awarded for those who advance to the Top 12 qualifying session,” the series wrote. “The Indy 500 pole winner will receive 12 points, the second fastest will receive 11, and points awarded will decrease by one-point increments down to 12th fastest (one point).”
IndyCar president Jay Frye likes the changes his team has created.
“We have an incredibly deep field heading into this year’s Indianapolis 500,” he said. “The timing is right to implement a new and dramatic way to expand one of the most intense weekends on our calendar. Winning pole position for the ‘500’ is an incredible feat, and with this new format, it will be even more challenging.”
Qualifying weekend will be broadcast exclusively via NBC’s Peacock Premium streaming service and in audio form by the IndyCar Radio Network.