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Auto Racing – 1986 – Indy 500 – Jim McKay + Jim Lampley Explore The Challenge Of Qualifying For Indy

Qualifying determines which drivers will compete in the Indianapolis 500.  It also determines their
starting position on the grid…..as qualifications is also known as time trials….when a race car driver must run four laps around the 2.5-mile oval for a total of 10 miles to complete a qualifying run….as a driver qualifies alone on the track with no other cars in his way or creating a draft.  To determine qualifying order….drivers draw a position on a first-come first-serve basis the day before the 1st day of qualifying.

The average of their four lap times  is calculated to determine their qualifying time…..when the fastest driver gets to start on the inside of the front row….which is known as the pole position.  The driver who
earns this also earns a large cash prize….currently in 2019 is $100,000…..as the the Indy 500 features a grid that is 3-cars wide….while the field is also limited to 33 cars, so there are 11 rows.

Each car must take two warm-up laps. The decision to take the green to start the attempt or wave off
must be made the second time past the flag stand…..when the team owner or designated representative must raise the green flag to signify the start of a qualification attempt or the yellow flag will be thrown,
aborting the attempt.

In the not too distant past, two weekends (four days) were used to qualify.  On the first day of qualifying,
known as Pole Day, the fastest driver won the pole position.  On the last day of qualifying drivers could
knock other drivers off of the starting grid by qualifying faster.  This day was known as Bump Day.

Qualifying was shrunk down to one weekend in 2010…..with a new qualifying system was implemented in 2014. 

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