until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


When is the Indy 500? Full schedule for the Month of May

5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 is just around the corner.

It might not quite be the 'Month of May' any more - in so far as its schedule has condensed closer to two weeks than a full four over the years - but there's still plenty of on-track action to whet your appetite at the biggest single-day sporting event in the world based on attendance.

Below we've outlined the major on-track events of the Indy 500 with some extra detail to help explain some of those things further.

All times listed here are local, Eastern Time. If you're in the UK, just add five hours to the times below to get the start time.

Tuesday May 14

0900-1100 - practice
1300-1800 - practice

Wednesday May 15

1200-1800 - practice

Thursday May 16

1200-1800 - practice

The first three practices of the week are open to the teams. They can prioritise race running, qualifying tweaking, and a mix of both which is usually the case.

Crucially, the Indy 500 open test in April was rained off, so there will be teams who will still be working through tweaks they’ve made off the back of last year’s race.

And as Callum Ilott and Juncos experienced last year, there’s almost always one team that has to debate swapping to a back-up car if there’s something wrong with the primary option. The smallest of issues with a chassis, floor or aero components can cost you qualifying for the race.

Crashes are also an absolute must to avoid.

Friday May 17 (Fast Friday)

1200-1800 - practice
1815-1900 - qualifying draw

Fast Friday is when teams get to run the extra turbo boost for qualifying. So there’s six hours of running higher boost to prepare for the laps that count the next day.

The qualifying draw afterwards (pictured above) is always a lot of fun. Some drivers are extremely superstitious about who makes the draw because it’s worked - or hasn't - for them in the past.

Each driver or a representative of a driver - it's often family members, team personnel or even sponsors - draws a number, which decides when they will go out to qualify. If you draw number 1, you’re first in line for qualifying. If you’re last, you go 34th.

Saturday May 18

0830-0930 - practice
1100-1750 - qualifying

Saturday sets the grid from 13th to 29th, the rest go on to Sunday.

The Top 12 will be whittled down to a Fast Six and go for pole on Sunday, whereas 30th-34th go to Last Chance qualifying, where this year one team will be bumped out of the Indy 500.

After each driver has set a four-lap qualifying run in the order they were drawn at random on Friday, there is a chance to go again and this is governed by the queue system.

The right hand queue allows you to keep the time you have previously set, thus meaning you will still make the race even if you go slower when you get to go back on track.

This lane becomes full quickly because there’s no risk associated here.

That’s why there’s the left hand queue, too. If you take this route, you lose the time you’ve previously set, so if you go slower than the 33rd car or you crash or have a mechanical issue, it can cost you a place in the event.

Because of the risk, this queue gets you out on track quicker and takes priority over the right lane.

Sunday May 19 (Bump Day)

1200-1300 - practice, Top 12
1300-1400 - practice, Last Chance qualifiers
1505-1605 - Top 12 qualifying
1615-1715 - Last Chance qualifying
1725-1755 - Fast Six

In the Top 12 and Fast Six, drivers get one four-lap run to set their time for the Indy 500. In the Last Chance group, the teams use the queue system as on Saturday, until the session time runs out.

Jack Harvey bumped team-mate Graham Rahal out of the race on his last run of the Last Chance event last year. Alex Palou took pole position.

This day is called Bump Day because it's when one or more cars are 'bumped' out of the starting line-up.

Monday May 20

1300-1500 - practice

This allows teams to change their set-ups back from qualifying to race trim and make sure that is all done correctly.

Friday May 24 (Carb Day)

1100-1300 - practice
1430-1600 - pitstop challenge

Carb Day is a hangover from the 1960s when teams and drivers would use this final practice to tweak their carburettors for race day. Now it is just the final practice before the Indy 500.

The golden rule here? Don't crash.

The pitstop competition is also a massive deal in the paddock. These teams make hundreds of stops in May and need five-plus perfect ones in the race itself if their driver is to win.

The winning crew is even given its own press conference.

Saturday May 25 (Legends Day)

0900-1000 - full field autograph session
1030-1100 - public drivers meeting

Sunday May 26

1030 - cars to grid
1147 - driver introductions
1217 - invocation and national anthem/music package
1228 - drivers to cars
1245 - green flag for the Indy 500

Tune in a little earlier than the green flag wherever you are watching for the pomp and ceremony of the Indy 500, which is like no other.

A literal cannon is fired at 6am to open the gates to spectators and from thereon in it’s a mad rush of events before the race itself, with singing, fighter jet flyovers, A-list celebrities and of course, driver introductions.

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