With a $175,000 check going to the Peak Performance Pole winner and new rewards for the other front-row starters – plus extra IZOD IndyCar Series championship bonus points – "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is looking to make Pole Day the Greatest Spectacle in Qualifying. In a new two-session qualifying format just announced for the 2010 Indianapolis 500, the top nine cars after the initial four-lap runs are completed will have their times erased and will go into a second 90-minute round where they need to make at least one additional pass. They will be gunnin' for not just the pole, but a cash payout more than twice what it was last year.

Besides the $175,000 check going to the pole winner, second place gets $75,000 and the final front row starter will get $50,000. In addition to the money, there are more championship points being doled out at Indy this year. Typically, the IndyCar Series rewards the Peak Performance Pole Award winner one point, but for this year's 500, the series will award points to every qualifier. Pole gets 15 points, second receives 13, third 12, and so on for spots 4-9. Positions 10-24 get four points each and everyone else gets three.

The top 24 spots in the 33-car field will be claimed during the traditional four-lap runs, with each car getting up to three attempts during that time. The top nine follow that session up with the new pole shootout session, while the final nine spots will be filled on Bump Day (May 23), with four-lap qualifying attempts that could start bumping low qualifiers once 33 cars have already qualified. All of which should add just a little extra excitement to this year's Indy 500.

[Source: IndyCar Series | Image: Chris Graythen/Getty]