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Iowa starting grid to be set by heats

New IZOD IndyCar Series race director Beaux Barfield has announced a number of changes to qualifying and restart procedures, and hinted more changes may be on the way.
The IZOD IndyCar Series is tweaking some of the procedures relating to qualifying and restarts at certain tracks in 2012, the newly appointed race director Beaux Barfield has announced.

Instead of single-car speed test laps at Iowa Speedway, qualification will instead take the form of three 'heats' of 30 laps each to determine the starting places of all the cars.

The groups for the three heats will be set according to times from the practice session held earlier on the day: the cars in the top ten in practice will race for the top ten grid positions, while the remaining cars will be split into two groups based on whether they had an even- or odd-position in the practice session. The two groups will then compete in heats for grid positions 11, 13, ... and 12, 14, ... accordingly.

It's an attempt to introduce some of the excitement from the successful revamping of road course qualifying procedures, which sees car progress through two rounds of qualifying before finally fighting it out for the front three rows on the grid in the Firestone Fast Six.

"We looked at heat races as something that could add excitement to our races and just improve the product," said Barfield. "The build-up we presently have for the Firestone Fast Six has that excitement and we wanted to do something similar for the oval events, he said, adding that it was "going back to the heritage of short-track racing," Barfield said that "This is the first of a few concepts we're considering."

Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile will continue to use the existing system of averaging the speed of a car over two solo laps of the oval.

Barfield also confirmed that the controversial double-file restarts will stay for the majority of races - but offered an olive branch to teams and drivers by declaring that the high-speed ovals on the calendar will revert back to single file restarts.

That means the races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway will all be single-file restarts, a move that will please drivers who complained last year that trying to go two-wide on those tracks was simply too dangerous.

Barfield agreed with them, at least for these circuits: "They were right at sort of a draft and pan-out point in the vicinity of where the pit wall started," he said of the situation at Indianapolis. "If they got forced over there, that's dangerous."




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Marco Andretti passes Tony Kanaan in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Marco Andretti leads Tony Kanaan in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his daughter Mikaella after winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates capturing the pole Saturday, August 23, 2014, with the fastest qualifying time for Sunday`s IndyCar race at at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates capturing the pole Saturday, August 23, 2014, with the fastest qualifying time for Sunday`s IndyCar race at at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power (right), driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, is congratulated by teammate Helio Castroneves after capturing the pole Saturday, August 23, 2014 with the fastest qualifying time for Sunday`s IndyCar race at at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 captures the pole Saturday, August 23, 2014, with the fastest qualifying time for Sunday`s IndyCar race at at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power prepares for qualifying (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his family after winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway prepares for a wet qualifying for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Source on Saturday, August 2 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ed Carpenter on track at Iowa (Photo by Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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