INDIANAPOLIS — Rain is in the forecast at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., which could wash out Indianapolis 500 qualifying.
If Saturday's qualifying session is called — and there may not be a clearing once it starts raining mid afternoon — before every driver gets in four laps, the times of those that ran will be discarded, and all 33 cars will start from scratch Sunday.
In that case, drivers would get only one four-lap run each, rather than having the ability to try to improve the time, and the Fast 12 will come from there. Such an occurrence would mean six drivers would make three qualifying runs with everything on the line over seven hours or less. The 2022 qualifying format will pare the field to the 12 fastest cars at 4 p.m. Sunday, with the six fastest from that group advancing.
“It’s hard to do that three times, because you definitely are on the edge,” 2018 500 pole-sitter and race-winner Will Power said. “It’s kind of nerve-racking. I would rather just do two, but it is what it is. You’ve got to deal with it and get the most out of it.”
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IndyCar needs roughly three hours without any delays to get everyone a four-lap run. If the rain arrives before 2 p.m. or if a crash or two inserts lengthy pauses into the process, the entire field may not get the one guaranteed run.
Qualifying was moved up an hour to 11 a.m. Saturday and will run through 5:50 p.m.
Whenever the Fast 12 is ultimately decided, those 12 cars will begin rolling off one-by-one at 4 p.m. Sunday, from slowest in the first qualifying session to the fastest. Once those four-lap runs are finished, the Fast Six cars will run two laps behind the pace car at speeds around 100 mph to help cool down everyone’s engines to the same level, rather than those that ran earlier in the session having equipment at a more optimal running level. Before and after those pace laps, teams will have a pair of five-minute work windows to adjust their front and rear wings and change tire pressure. Tires can also be changed in the window immediately before the Fast Six.
“This all just puts an emphasis on preparation, making sure that you’re comfortable, and that’s easier said than done – especially when the conditions can change a lot,” four-time pole winner Scott Dixon said. “But I think for the fans, it’s fantastic. You’re going to get to see a lot of great cars running, and that should be pretty exciting.”
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indy 500 qualifying: What happens if it rains Saturday