IndyCar drivers have given a cautious thumbs-up to the heat race qualifying system that was tried out for this weekend's Iowa round.
The grid for Saturday's race was determined via three 30-lap heats around the 7/8th mile oval; the first two being to decide the starting order from the fifth row back, and the third to decide pole. Drivers were allocated into heats on the basis of their times in the second practice session.
Dario Franchitti, who will start from pole after winning the third heat, said that the system was a good starting point for the future.
"I'm sure the guys at IndyCar will go home and think, 'OK, what can we do to spice it up?'" he said. "But as a first stab at it, I thought it was really good."
Penske's Helio Castroneves will start alongside Franchitti on the front row, and said that the system was a good opportunity for drivers and teams to get a sense of how their cars might work in the race that they might not otherwise get in conventional qualifying.
"For the first time, it was positive," he said. "It was a good practice for the race, and to understand your car. That's probably why there was not many incidents. It was like a little bit of a practice instead of an actual race."
Castroneves' team-mate Ryan Briscoe tweeted after the session that he would like to see the winners of the first two heats earn a place in the final heat, rather than being able to finish no higher than the fifth row as is currently the case. The idea has gained some early traction amongst his rivals.
"I'd like to see some sort of link to traditional short track, dirt track racing where you run heats to progress through," said Ganassi's Charlie Kimball. "But as a starting point it was good."