IndyCar – Basics

The sport is quite simple unlike all other races. The rider who crosses the finish line first is considered as the winner. The beauty of the sport lies in the numerous challenges which the rider has to face. Let us understand the basics of the sport.

IndyCar − Flags

A total of nine flags are used throughout the race. Each flag has a different sign. The rider must acknowledge all the flags throughout the game and should follow the signs strictly. These 8 flags are −


  • Green(Start) − This flag signs the beginning of the race, practice session or qualifying attempt.

  • Checkers(Finish) − This flag signs the end of the race, practice session or qualifying attempt.

  • Blue(Passing) − This flag signs the rider that a faster car is attempting to pass.

  • White(Last Lap) − This flag signs that only one lap is left for the race to be completed.

  • Red(Stop) − This flag signs that the track is not safe and the rider should not process at any speed.

  • Black(Consultation) − This flag signs that the rider needs to move immediately to the pit area for consulting the officials.

  • Yellow(Caution) − This flag signs that the track is not safe for racing speeds.

  • Yellow and Red Stripe(Surface) − This flag signs that some slippery substance like water or oil is all over the track.

  • Black with White Cross(Disqualification) − This flag signs that the rider has been eliminated from the game.

The rider should remember about the signals given by each flag. Throughout the game, the rider should carefully follow all the signs of the flag in order to play a safe game with fair chance of winning.

Qualifying Procedures

As we know the tracks in the IndyCar series are of different shapes. So the qualifying procedures differ according to the race track. Given below are the specifications necessary for qualifying various tracks. However, these procedures are not eligible for Indianapolis 500.

Oval Tracks

The sequence of qualifying is made by a blind draw. Each racing car is allowed to have two warm-up laps before the timed qualification laps. If necessary, the race director may allow some additional warm up laps. The qualification round includes two consecutive timed laps.

The total time taken in the two consecutive timed laps is recorded and is considered as the official qualifying time for the car. This is known as the green flag laps. Each car is allowed to leave the staging pit only once during the entire race.

Road/Street Courses

On the first day of track activity, all cars attend the practice sessions where the drivers are allotted to one or two groups. These groups are made on the basis of combined practice times on the day before the qualifications. The racer with fastest time determines the first two qualifying groups.

IndyCar Segments

The qualifying round has three segments which eventually determine the winner. These segments are −

  • Segment One − Two groups get a time slot of 10 minutes. The six fastest cars from both the groups qualify the round and others are ranked 13+. Drivers of group one are ranked oddly (13,15..) while group two are ranked evenly (14, 16..) relying on the fastest lap within the segment.

  • Segment Two − The fastest 12 cars from Segment One get a 10 minute time slot. The six fastest cars among these qualify for the next round while rest are ranked in between 7-12 on the basis of the fastest lap within the segment.

  • Firestone Fast Six − The fastest six from Segment Two get a time slot of 10 minutes. They are assured five minutes of green flag. All the cars receive an extra set of Firestone Fire Hawk tires for this round. Cars with the fastest laps during the segment are ranked from 1-6.


The riders have to take the following precautions while driving the car −

  • The riders should keep in mind that if the car causes a red or full course yellow condition in any segment or interrupt with qualifications as mentioned by the Race Director, then car’s best two timed laps of the segment will be disallowed. Also, any car interfering will not be permitted to the next segment.

  • If a car leads to two red or full course yellow conditions in any segment, then all segment times of the rider are eliminated and is not allowed to take part in any of the qualifying rounds.

Ties (all courses)

There will be situations where two or more cars have same qualification times. In this type of scenario, a tie breaker is required to determine the ranks. Here the cars will be ranked according to the sequence in which the attempts for completing qualification occur.

Earned Poles

The drivers earn poles for statistical purpose on the on-track performance at some particular track. A pole is not earned for statistical purpose when qualifying is aborted and pole is assigned on the basis of point. It is earned when qualifying is aborted but pole is assigned on the basis of practice speed.