This is the biggest weekend thus far at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is the weekend that will decide who is on the poll for next week’s 98th running of Indianapolis 500. Making that front row, is both important and gives the drivers as well as their race teams bragging rights.
ABC will have the action today starting at 4 p.m. ET and on Sunday the action will begin at 1 p.m.
Watching the Indy 500 qualifying can be both exciting and a bit confusing. That said, it is way more interesting especially on Sunday when drivers who have qualified in the final few spots can be bumped out of the race.
Juan Montoya, has returned to the IndyCar scene and the odds people in Las Vegas like his chances. He is at 6-1 making him the early favorite. Another NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch (20-to-1) will attempt to participate in both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on the same day. That storyline will help bring a large part of NASCAR Nation to the race on TV and drive up the ratings as well as the Vegas odds.
The Las Vegas, odds makers have seen the shift away from the Indy 500 and over to the Daytona 500, as IndyCar has lost a great deal of fans to NASCAR. In 1995, the cash handled on the Indy 500 at Las Vegas sports books rivaled the Daytona 500 as being the most wagered upon auto racing event of the year.
However, the past couple of seasons all 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup races drew more action to the bet windows than the Indy 500. That’s kind of a big deal, but Busch and Montoya definitely make this year’s Indy race more appealing.
New Zealand’s Scott Dixon (8-to-1), winner of the 2008 Indy 500, is the only other driver posted at less than double digit odds. However, two of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates — Tony Kanaan and Ryan Briscoe — are listed next at 10-to-1. Kanaan won it last season driving for KV Racing Technology, giving Brazil seven wins among four drivers, which is one win behind the United Kingdom for most in a race history that dates back to 1911. Penske’s Will Power, who won the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg and leads the series in points, is also 10-to-1.
Ryan Hunter-Reay is second in points and won last week in the Grand Prix of Alabama. He’s part of the Andretti gang and is set at 12-to-1 odds. After him, the odds shoot all the way to 20-to-1 with his new teammate Busch. The power teams are the drivers you want to pay the attention to the most, although Kanaan proved last season that a team other than Penske, Ganassi or Andretti can win.
Here is what you should know about getting into the Indy 500.
Indianapolis 500 Qualifying 101
• All entries are guaranteed one attempt to qualify between 11 a.m. and 5:50 p.m.
• The fastest 33 cars will make up the provisional field for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race based on the fastest four-lap average time.
• Once the qualifying session ends, the top 30 cars are locked in to the field.
• However, all 33 cars must re-qualify on Sunday to determine final starting positions.
• The fastest nine cars advance to a shootout on Sunday to determine the Verizon P1 Award.
• There will be two qualifying lines at the end of pit lane:
o Line 1: Cars that are unqualified or have withdrawn their previous qualifying times. Priority will be given to this lane.
o Line 2: Cars that have already qualified but want another attempt and have not withdrawn their previous qualifying times.
• Multiple attempts are permitted without withdrawing a time by entering Line 2.
• Teams can withdraw their time and enter Line 1, which will have priority over cars already in the field.
• Teams that make multiple attempts can only improve their times if they have not withdrawn their time to enter Line 2, meaning, even if a driver records a slower four-lap average, that driver’s previous (faster) time will stand.
Qualifying Points, Saturday:
1st – 33 points
2nd – 32 points
3rd – 31 points
4th – 30 points
5th – 29 points
6th – 28 points
7th – 27 points
8th – 26 points
9th – 25 points
10th – 24 points
11th – 23 points
12th – 22 points
13th – 21 points
14th – 20 points
15th – 19 points
16th – 18 points
17th – 17 points
18th – 16 points
19th – 15 points
20th – 14 points
21st – 13 points
22nd – 12 points
23rd – 11 points
24th – 10 points
25th – 9 points
26th – 8 points
27th – 7 points
28th – 6 points
29th – 5 points
30th – 4 points
31st – 3 points
32nd – 2 points
33rd – 1 point
• All Saturday times are erased and positions 10-30 will re-qualify to determine starting position.
• Order will be the reverse of Saturday’s rankings.
• Lineup will be determined based on fastest four-lap averages.
• In the event that there are only 33 cars entered, this group will determine positions 10-33.
Group 2 (Only used in the event there are more than 33 cars):
• All Saturday times are erased and positions 31-33, and any entry that has yet to make one attempt to qualify, will re-qualify to determine the 11th row of the race.
• The top nine cars will run in reverse order based on Saturday’s times.
• All cars will make one attempt.
• At the end of the session, the cars are ranked 1-9 based on their four-lap average during the segment.
Qualifying Points, Sunday:
1st – 9 points
2nd – 8 points
3rd – 7 points
4th – 6 points
5th – 5 points
6th – 4 points
7th – 3 points
8th – 2 points
9th – 1 point
Note: The Indianapolis 500 will award double points for race results, but the qualifying points and any bonus points awarded for leading a lap (1 point) or most laps (2 points) will not be doubled.