P1 in practice gets first choice
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Another strategy component comes into play this weekend for IZOD IndyCar Series qualifications.
INDYCAR has modified the assignment of IZOD IndyCar Series road course qualifying groups for the first of the three segments, beginning with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (5:30 p.m. ET IMS Radio Network broadcast on www.indycar.com; 6 p.m. taped on VERSUS).
Lap times from the initial day of on-track activity will be used to determine the two qualifying groups, with the driver posting the quickest time from the combined or single practice session(s) having the option of selecting which qualifying group he/she will participate.
Odd-numbered positions will comprise one group for the 15-minute session and even-number positions will make up the other group. The top six cars, based on lap time, from each group will advance to the 10-minute Segment 2. Then the six cars with the quickest lap times advance to the Firestone Fast Six shootout to determine the PEAK Performance Pole Award and set the first three rows for the April 17 race.
Previously, a random draw for Segment 1 groups was conducted at the drivers’ meeting preceding practice.
“This change was made at the request of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, who were looking for a system that enhanced the competition,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for INDYCAR, sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series. “It puts a premium on Friday practice sessions and helps even out the groups, which couldn’t be achieved through a random draw.”
There are two practice sessions on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street circuit April 15. There also are two sessions April 30 on the Sao Paulo circuit – the same day as qualifications.
So, does the driver P1 in practice choose Group 1 – which goes out first for Segment 1 but has about 20 minutes to prepare for Segment 2 if they advance – or Group 2 – which has about 5 minutes to prepare for Segment 2 if they advance but could have better track conditions to record a quicker lap?
The quickest driver will have 30 minutes following the end of practice to make their decision known to Barnhart.