Tuesday's motors: IndyCar adds shootout segment to Indianapolis 500 qualifying

Jenna Fryer
Associated Press

Roger Penske has tweaked qualifying for next month's Indianapolis 500 to add a shootout that will determine the first four starting rows for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Penske told The Associated Press the tweaks will create a high-pressure atmosphere on the second day of qualifying.

“We're going to have all 33 qualify on Saturday and then come back on Sunday, and take two hours at the best time of the day and send the top 12 out and then the top six,” Penske told AP before Tuesday's announcement. "I really want to do this, we already do it at other races.

Delvin Defrancesco leads a group of cars into Turn 1 during testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Indianapolis.

“To have Joe Blow, who is 33rd, get beat by Julian Blow — if you think about it, doing it this way, we're really going to be able to promote it and it's going to be a very tense two hours.”

IndyCar most recently has used a “Fast Nine” format at the Indy 500 to determine the first three starting rows. The new format will set positions 13-33 on May 21, the first day of qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The second day will feature the fastest 12 drivers all posting a four-lap average for the pole. The field will be cut to six for a “Fast Six” that will determine the first two rows and the ultimate pole winner. It will air live on NBC.

The pole-sitter will receive $100,000 and 12 points in the IndyCar standings. Points will be awarded in decreasing one-point increments for the top 12.

“We have an incredibly deep field heading into this year’s Indianapolis 500,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said in a statement. “The timing is right to implement a new and dramatic way to expand one of the most intense weekends on our calendar. Winning pole position for the ‘500’ is an incredible feat, and with this new format, it will be even more challenging.”

Only 32 teams have currently announced their intent to run the Indy 500, with the final 33rd entry an unknown a month out from the race. Should there be more than 33 entries, IndyCar will still hold “Last Chance Qualifying” on May 22.

Hamlin sent to sensitivity training after "Family Guy" tweet

Charlotte N.C. — NASCAR on Tuesday ordered Denny Hamlin to begin sensitivity training this week after he posted an anti-Asian meme from the television comedy “Family Guy” to criticize Kyle Larson's driving on the last lap at Talladega Superspeedway over the weekend.

Hamlin deleted the tweet Monday night and apologized.

“I took down a post I made earlier today after reading some of the comments,” he wrote. “It was a poor choice of memes and I saw how it was offensive. It came across totally wrong.”

Hamlin is a three-time Daytona 500 winner who drives a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. He also owns 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan and fields two cars supported by the Japanese automaker — one driven by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver at NASCAR's top level.

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin is also good friends with Larson, the reigning Cup Series champion who was suspended by NASCAR almost all of the 2020 season for using a racial slur during an online race. He is half-Japanese.

On Sunday at Talladega, Larson was in second exiting the final turn when he made his move for the win. He moved up the track multiple lanes in an aggressive move that caused 23XI driver Kurt Busch to crash — a wreck that also collected Wallace.

In the meme, an Asian woman speaks in choppy English before moving across six lanes of traffic with no warning, reflecting a racist steretype about Asian drivers. It has long been removed from the episode on all streaming platforms but the clip can still be found on YouTube. Larson's name was superimposed over the female driver in the meme.

Hamlin’s tweet was up nearly seven hours before he deleted it right before midnight.

Toyota said in a statement it supported NASCAR's punishment of Hamlin.

“We have spoken with Denny Hamlin regarding his tweet from yesterday. Toyota supports NASCAR’s decision to mandate sensitivity training for Denny and we will all move forward together," the automaker said.

NASCAR's rulebook has a section that says its members "shall not make or cause to be made a public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”