It’s Fast Friday at IMS

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Good morning from Indianapolis! It’s Fast Friday, which means the series allows teams to turn up the boost in preparation for Qualifying tomorrow and the run for the pole on Sunday. We will get to the track around 9:30 or 10:00 this morning, and plan on being here all day.

Susan and I actually drove up yesterday. The plan was to get to the track around noon and be at the track all afternoon. However, she had a cake project to finish up that took way longer than expected. We did not pull out of our driveway until 1:20 pm CDT. After losing an hour with the time change, we rolled into town around 6:30 last night. Oh, well. We got here and we will be at the track early today.

After flying solo during the GMR Grand Prix, it’ll be good to have Susan back up here with me. I had originally planned to spend the entire week of practice here, as I did in 2019. Susan had too much to do, and was not sure she could physically do three weekends in a row. With our wedding anniversary this past Wednesday – we compromised and came up Thursday night. It really worked out well, since Wednesday’s practice was a complete washout.

The weather was decent enough during practice on Thursday, although it was pouring when we rolled into town just thirty minutes later. It is supposed to be nice again today, but hot. It will be hot on Saturday also, but another system is supposed to roll through Saturday night and Sunday morning, and then it will turn chilly for Pole-qualifying – if the weather will allow qualifying to happen. I’m wondering if they might move Saturday qualifying up, to account for weather moving in later in the afternoon. For all we know, the entire field may have to qualify on Sunday, when the forecast is much better, albeit cooler. But I have an idea, they will get at least a good portion of the field qualified tomorrow, even if they have to change the time. With all of Saturday’s qualifying on Peacock, there is no TV window to worry about.

Speaking of Peacock, here is the schedule for today, tomorrow and Sunday. Today is pretty simple – practice will run from noon to 6:00 pm EDT. On Saturday, there will be practice from 9:00 to 10:30 am EDT. In the past, these have been split sessions. The schedule on the website says nothing about that, so we’ll see. Qualifying begins at Noon and goes to 5:50 pm; but that could change due to weather, since there will be no bumping this year. All of Saturday’s practice and qualifying will be shown exclusively on Peacock.

Things are slightly different for the run for the pole on Sunday. Assuming the schedule stays in place without adjustments for weather, the Top-Twelve qualifiers from Saturday will be allowed to practice from 12:30 pm EDT until 2:00 pm EDT, to be carried on Peacock. From 2:00 until 4:00, I guess we all work on our tan.

At 4:00 pm, Big NBC takes over for the final two hours. From 4:00 to 4:55 pm, qualifying for the Top-Twelve qualifiers takes place. Each of the Top-Twelve will be guaranteed at least one run in that time frame. At 4:55, those with the seventh fastest speed and slower will be locked into the field. From 5:10 to 5:40 pm, the Fast Six will go again with the fastest in the final group, earning the NTT P1 Award, and the pole position for next week’s Indianapolis 500.

Some have criticized this as gimmicky. I don’t really mind it. It gives us almost two hours of qualifying instead of one. Things got gimmicky fifteen years ago, when they came up with the 11-11-11 format. It’s just that it makes the six fastest cars have to qualify at least three different times – each time bringing the possibility of wadding up a perfectly good car. There has been some concern about engine cooling between the two rounds on Sunday. Marshall Pruett of Racer.com does a much better job than of explaining it than I could in this article.

As usual, we will be posting here throughout the weekend – so please check back often. You may also follow both of us on Twitter for photos, videos and comments. You can follow me at @Oilpressureblog and Susan at @MrsOilpressure. Please check back later.

George Phillips

2 Responses to “It’s Fast Friday at IMS”

  1. It will be interesting to see how Grosjean manages the extra boost today. He almost put it in the wall numerous times yesterday.

  2. Yannick Says:

    I wouldn’t mind if Sunday was a washout and the field was set completely on Saturday’s speeds. It’s enough to qualify once. You should not be required to risk it all three times. Once is enough.

    I liked the old qualifying format of setting the pole on the 1st day because it was different to everywhere else in racing, and because it benefitted those who arrive well prepared. I’m not fond of the new format.
    Qualifying P1 to P22 on Saturday and then P22 to P33 on Sunday would be my preferred format for the Indianapolis 500 in modern times when a month is distilled down to a week of practice and qualifying. Not a fan of the Fast 6 at the speedway. Elsewhere, it is OK,. But let’s not have it on superspeedways for safety reasons.

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