The Month of May is changing once again for Indianapolis racing enthusiasts. Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced the schedule leading up to the 2010 Indy 500, and it features a shortened schedule with just one weekend devoted to qualifying. The track, located in Speedway, Indiana, will open its doors on Saturday, May 15, 2009 for rookie testing and open practice. That next week will be reserved for full practice, with Pole Day coming on the Saturday and bump day being held on that Sunday. The “new” schedule is very similar to the format used from 1998-2000.
The week prior to the race will remain the same. The track will be closed on Monday and Tuesday. There will be a community day on Wednesday, with Thursday featuring a practice session by the IndyLights Series in preparation for the Firestone Freedom 100 held on Friday. In addition to the Firestone Freedom 100, Friday, or Miller Lite Carb Day as it’s officially known, will feature a pit stop competition and an afternoon concert. And of course, the Coke Lot and North 40 will be open for tailgaters to provide an “infield” atmosphere outside the track.
\In the past few years, the Speedway had opted for a two-weekend, four day qualifying format, and while it provided plenty of drama for Indianapolis sports fans, Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division for the Indy Racing League, feels the new schedule will be even more exciting:
“By setting the 33-car grid on one weekend, there’s no room for mistakes by the teams and drivers. The pressure will be on to deliver over the 10 miles regardless of the weather and track conditions.”
In addition to intensifying qualifications, the move will help reduce costs to all involved with putting on the race. The Indianapolis Star reports that by cutting the month short, teams will save in hotel costs, and both the IZOD IndyCar Series and IMS will save on staffing. The most significant savings will come from a decrease in costs for IMS Productions, the speedway’s production company who provides qualifying coverage for ESPN.
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