With the 2011 season, IZOD IndyCar Series officials say they want more consistancy and with that, they have now added a field. Starting fields will set to a maximum of 26 cars, excluding the Indianapolis 500 and the IZOD IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“This new procedure will ensure that our fans see the best drivers and teams in every race we stage, while adding more drama to the qualifying process,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for INDYCAR. “Many of the tracks we compete at can only accommodate a maximum of 26 cars and that is our limit when traveling to overseas events, so those two factors are what really helped us land on this number. We feel that a consistent starting line-up number will help our tracks and teams better prepare for events, improve conditions on pit road and elevate the level of competition on track.”
During the 15 race weekends this is in place, 24 starting spots will be filled through qualifyng based upon time, while there will be two provisional positions if needed. The two provisionals are availabe ot any driver who doesn’t make the field after qualifying based upon the following criteria (in order):
· 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series champion driver.
· 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series champion driver.
· 2010 Indianapolis 500 champion driver.
· Highest-ranking driver among the current top-22 driver point standings prior to race weekend.
· Leader Circle entry with the best practice lap time at the event, as deemed acceptable by INDYCAR.
· Entry with next best qualifying lap time, as deemed acceptable by INDYCAR.
The Indianapolis 500 maintains its traditional 33-car field while the field at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is expanded to 30 to accomodate additional entries participating in the $5 millon challenge.
Last month, in an attempt to bring forth drivers of different series, Benard also announced that a $5 million challenge to any professional race car driver not competiting in the IZOD IndyCar Series for the finale. If they win the race, Benard will pay them $5 millon on top of the prize money given.
The field at Las Vegas will include two provisional starting spots, while Indianapolis won’t.
Provisional spots will also not be available for the IZOD IndyCar Series events at Sao Paulo and Twin Ring Motegi, but the field will have up to 26 cars at both races. INDYCAR will determine at its discretion the procedure by which non-Leader’s Circle teams are selected to travel to and participate in these two events.
The change makes sense to cap the field as from a fan’s perspective, it’s better to have 26 of the most competitive cars rather than a bunch of fast cars, some slow cars causing accidents and start-and-parks. For most fans, the competition is what matters and if this keeps it at a premium, then I don’t see any complaints forthcoming.