Although it’s the three-day Victoria Day weekend in Canada, when people look forward to doing things outside, the weather forecast for Southern Ontario on Saturday (it’s where this blog is written) is not the greatest, which means if you’re forced to stay indoors, the good news is that there is going to be lots and lots of auto racing to enjoy on television.
TSN2 will pick up the feed from U.S. cable channel Versus and carry the entire first day of qualifying from Indianapolis, which will feature a new "run for the pole" procedure (explanation follows). Coverage is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. EDT and go till 6:30 p.m.
Then, if you haven’t had enough, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race will start on Speed TV at 7 p.m. (which means you only have 30 minutes to run to the bathroom, open another beer, kiss your wife and kids, etc.).
Now, the All-Star race is always a giggle because it’s an exhibition and doesn’t count in the standings. The payoff is spectacular – a cool one million smackeroos, winner-take all – and NASCAR’s new "have-at-it,-boys" philosophy should make for a race to remember.
If you like demolition derbies, that is, which this race could very well become . . .
Indy, on the other hand, has the potential to be equally exciting without the carnage.
For years and years, the rule at Indianapolis was that every car entered got one shot to win the pole for the 500. Then they changed that to, the fastest car on the first day of qualifying won the pole. That was when practice and qualifying at the Speedway lasted just about the entire month of May.
This year, the month of May has been condensed into two weeks. The drivers practiced all this week and will be going for the gold this weekend -- qualifying for spots one through 24 Saturday and then filling out the positions 25-33 Sunday, complete with bumping. The big race is a week from Sunday, May 30.
To better help everybody understand how the new qualifying system will work, and to answer some questions, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway public-relations department emailed out all the rules, regulations, procedures and possibilities on Friday.
Rather than me interpreting them, and maybe messing something up, here it is.
2010 INDIANAPOLIS 500 QUALIFYING PROCEDURE
POLE DAY, Saturday, May 22
Positions available: 1-24
– 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: The top 24 spots in the 33-car field will be available through traditional four-lap attempts. Each car will have up to three attempts during this time. The times of the top nine drivers from this first segment of qualifying will be erased at 4 p.m., with all of those competitors guaranteed to start no worse than ninth in the Indianapolis 500.
– 4:30-6 p.m.: "The Fast Nine" then will be required to make at least one four-lap qualifying attempt, with optional attempts if time permits. Each driver’s best run during the 90-minute session will set their position within the top nine spots on the starting grid. If inclement weather prevents the 90-minute shootout for the "Fast Nine," their times from the opening session will determine starting positions.
BUMP DAY, Sunday, May 23
Positions available: 25-33
– The final nine spots in the field will be earned through traditional four-lap qualifying from noon-6 p.m. Bumping will begin once 33 cars have qualified.
QUALIFYING PROCEDURE Q&A
Q: What happens if weather washes out the Fast Nine shootout before every driver gets a chance to make at least one attempt?
A: The position in the top nine starting spots for those nine drivers will be determined by their fastest runs during the 11 a.m.-4 p.m. segment.
Q: Can any drivers other than the Fast Nine make qualifying runs from 4:30-6 p.m. on Pole Day?
Q: Must a driver in the Fast Nine withdraw their time from the mandatory attempt during the final segment if he or she chooses to make a second qualification attempt during that segment?
Q: How will the qualifying draw for the Fast Nine segment be determined?
A: The driver with the fastest run during the 11 a.m.-4 p.m. segment will choose their position in the qualifying line at 4:10 p.m., followed by the second-fastest and so. The ninth-fastest driver will receive the final remaining slot in the line.
Q: Where does one of the Fast Nine drivers start if he or she can’t complete a run in the completed shootout due to a crash or a mechanical problem?
A: All nine drivers who qualify for the Fast Nine shootout based on their best runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. are guaranteed a starting spot in the top nine. The shootout from 4:30-6 p.m. determines their position in the top nine. If they don’t complete an attempt in the shootout, they will start ninth. If two drivers don’t complete an attempt in the shootout due to a crash or mechanical, then they will start eighth and ninth, respectively, based on their best run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Q: What happens if a driver crashes in the Fast Nine, and that car is destroyed? If that driver is forced to a backup car for the rest of the event, will he or she start ninth or 33rd?
A: All drivers who qualify are guaranteed a starting spot in the top nine on Race Day, even if they must change cars.
Q: What happens if Pole Day is rained out?
A: One day of qualifying would take place from noon-6 p.m. Sunday, May 23, with all 33 positions up for grabs. Each car would get the traditional three attempts that day. The pole shootout for the Fast Nine would not take place.
Q: What happens if Bump Day is rained out?
A: Qualifying would resume on the next available day for positions 25-33. There would be one attempt per car, which has been the procedure for a Bump Day rainout.
Okay, I want you to know that it sure can rain in Indianapolis in the spring as well as the summertime. I went to qualifying for the first time in 1969 and both days were rained out.
So, it happens.
By the way, the Honda Indy Edmonton has entered into promotional relationships with Alex Tagliani and FAZZT Race Team and with Paul Tracy and KV Racing Technology to form "Team Oh Canada" for the Indianapolis 500.
The promotion includes prominent Honda Indy Edmonton logo placement on both cars for the 500 Mile Race. Tagliani's No. 77 FAZZT Race Team car also will display the logo for the IZOD IndyCar Series races in Texas, Watkins Glen, Toronto and Edmonton.
KEN KNOWLES (President, Northlands, promoter of Honda Indy Edmonton):"Northlands and the Honda Indy Edmonton are absolutely delighted to partner with Canada's two best IZOD IndyCar Series drivers. Our promotional support for Alex and Paul provides us with an incredible opportunity to place our event, and the city of Edmonton, in the international spotlight while reaching a huge international audience."