By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
IndyCar has announced changes to the rules and format of qualifying for oval races from 2018 on, according to a recent article by RACER.com.
The old system of a driver lottery, the equivalent of drawing a name from a hat is replaced by a new system designed to up the tension and spectacle in a logical and fair manner.
For the races at Phoenix, Texas, Iowa, Gateway and Pocono drivers will qualify in championship order according points. Drivers at the bottom of the standings will qualify first, while those in championship contention will have to wait, and the current points leader will always qualify last. It is a simple, yet exciting format that should replicate the kind of tension seen in the road course/street circuit qualifying format with the Firestone Fast Six Shootout.
Indianapolis will continue with its own unique and long established qualifying system, but it too will undergo tweaks. Heeding the wisdom of four time series champ Scott Dixon who claimed that the new universal aerokits will make qualifying for the Indy 500 easier than in years past; IndyCar has decided to drastically cut the points it awards for qualifying.
Traditionally all drivers who qualified for the field of 33 received points based on where they lined up. From 42 points for the pole sitter, all the way down to one point for last place. This will be scrapped from 2018 on for a procedure that will only award points to the top nine drivers, with first place receiving 9 points and the order descending 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 all the way to the ninth place qualifier. It’s always a bold move to make any changes to the oldest and most prestigious race in the world, but this one makes a lot of good sense.
Crucially the teams and drivers are onboard with these changes and it should all result in better racing and a better championship for 2018 and beyond. With smart rule changes, three new teams and an exciting new car; IndyCar is riding a wave of good press and momentum not seen in decades. 2018 has all the ingredients required to make a classic season.