2023 Indy 500 Qualifying Format Explained

·3 min read
indy 500 qualifying
2023 Indy 500 Qualifying Format ExplainedPenske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

While it's not as simple as it used to be, it can be argued that the modern Indianapolis 500 format is a little more action packed than it used to be back in the day.

Granted, part of the fun is gone when only 34 cars are going for 33 spots. So much for Bump Day drama. And there will probably never again be a repeat of what we saw in 1995—the shock of watching Team Penske fail to qualify drivers Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi, who were simply too slow. That year, an eye-popping 12 drivers failed to qualify.

This race weekend, the grind will be at the top of the field, where the fastest cars will have to survive a multi-layered qualifying challenge for the pole.

Here's how it will shake out this weekend, courtesy the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:


11 a.m.-5:50 p.m.

Grid Positions 13-30 Determined

(TV coverage: 11 a.m.-6 p.m on Peacock; 2:30-4:30 p.m. on NBC)

• All NTT IndyCar Series cars will attempt to qualify.

• 30 cars will qualify on Saturday

• Grid positions for qualifiers 13 through 30 will be locked in

• Grid positions 31-33 will be determined during Last Chance Qualifying on Day 2

• Once every car in the qualifying order for Saturday has been presented at least one chance to qualify, teams may choose from two lanes for second and subsequent attempts. Cars in the priority lane (Lane 1) must withdraw their qualified time—if the car has one—but get priority access to the track ahead of Lane 2. Lane 2 is for cars that have already qualified but wish to improve their position.


Top 12 Qualifying - 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

Grid Positions 7-12 Determined

(TV coverage: Peacock)

• Top 12 cars from Day 1 are each guaranteed one qualifying attempt

• Six fasted cars will advance to the Firestone Fast Six run for the pole

• The other cars will slot into the race grid in positions 7-12

Last Chance Qualifying - 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

Grid Positions 31-33 Determined

(TV coverage: NBC)

• If more than 33 cars attempt to qualify, cars outside the top 30 are guaranteed one attempt and may make multiple attempts until time expires.

• Until 10 minutes remain in the session, cars will be allowed an additional cool-down lap following each qualifying run to expedite engine cooling and the opportunity to get in line for additional attempts, if desired.

• Each car’s most recent qualification speed will remain eligible for the starting lineup until the time is withdrawn or qualifications end.

Firestone Fast Six - 5:25 p.m.-5:45 p.m.

Grid Positions 1-6 Determined

(TV coverage: NBC)

• Order based on times from Top 12 qualifying, slowest to fastest.

• Each car is guaranteed one attempt.

•The fastest driver in the Firestone Fast Six will win the pole.