INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 23: (L-R) Dario Franchitti of Scotland, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, Will Power of Australia, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara Honda, and Helio Castroneves of Brazil, driver of the #3 Team Penske Dallara Honda, pose on the front stretch after qualifying respectively in third, second and first position for the IZOD IndyCar Series 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 23, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
An explanation of the qualifying process for the Indy 500.
Since 1939, the Indy 500 has used a four-lap qualifying distance in order to limit the field. In 2012, the same process will be used over two days on Saturday and Sunday in order to create a field of 33 cars.
The first day of qualifying is commonly referred to as "Pole Day" and sees the competing drivers battle for 24 of the available 33 spots. The top-nine of that field compete in another qualifying distance known as "The Fast Nine." The driver who wins "The Fast Nine" qualifying is then locked into the pole position for the race, while the other drivers are placed according to their finish.
The second day of qualifying is known as "Bump Day" as the remaining drivers battle for the final nine spots in the field of 33. From here, finishers in "The Fast Nine" can be bumped by their position by drivers who register better times than they did. However, if a driver is bumped from the top-nine, they are able to try and better their time because each driver is allowed to attempt three runs per day. Once they reach the maximum limit of three runs they can not log another attempt.
Once qualifying concludes, spots 10-33 are determined on the day in which the driver qualified as well as the driver's qualifying times. Drivers who qualified on Day 1 are given priority.
The 2012 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Schedule is as follows:
May 19: Qualifying from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET
May 19: Fast Nine from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET
May 20: Qualifying from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET
For more on Indy racing including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.