A few days before the great race have gone by and thoughts about the newly configured qualifying weekend are clearer. At more and more oval race tracks the notion of one at a time qualifying seems outdated. It does not usually draw a crowd even at NASCAR tracks. Indianapolis, however, is different. Four laps of absolute intensity. Thankfully that has not changed.
What has changed is May being the make or break month for a high number of folks who make that their season centerpiece. IMS touted 70 qualifying attempts on Saturday which is amazing. The problem is it occurred with only 33 cars. That tends to lessen the intensity. Qualifying becomes a shell game. The best possible solution while controlling costs is loosening the specs. The notion of Honda and Chevy pre-ordaining the field is abhorrent. A pre-ordained field of any kind stinks to high heaven.
The hocus pocus concocted by IMS, however, did end up compelling. Instead of bumping after 33 spots are filled, bumping occurred after/out of the first nine. A very smart idea is awarding points on Saturday in inverse order and determining the fast nine. GREAT idea. ‘Pole day’ harkened back to what it used to feel like. One shot. Four hard laps. That’s where you start. Period. Simple and easy and more traditional. Still, 45 or 50 entrants trying for 33 spots is absolutely necessary going forward.
Given the depth of the overall field and the combination of folks with such diverse experience, the 98th running should provide a great show, and the weather forecast looks favorable. See you there!