(March 2, 1999) - It's official. Newman/Haas Racing, one of the most famous motorsports teams in history, will seek to make new history using Firestone tires in Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition. With Michael Andretti and Christian...
(March 2, 1999) - It's official. Newman/Haas Racing, one of the most famous motorsports teams in history, will seek to make new history using Firestone tires in Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition. With Michael Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi racing on Firehawks, the Firestone Racing program now supplies tires to 22 drivers in this year's CART competition.
"Racing is about winning," said team co-owner Carl Haas in announcing the Newman/Haas Racing program's switch to Firestone tires, "and we are confident our new partnership with Firestone will produce those wins."
"We are enormously proud to work with Newman/Haas Racing in the very competitive CART series," said Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Director Al Speyer. "To have a team like Newman/Haas recognize the competitive advantage of our tires is a great testament to what Firestone engineers have accomplished in such a short time.
"We were very pleased with the teams and drivers using our tires during CART Spring Training at Homestead and, quite frankly, weren't looking to add anyone to our roster. But when the opportunity arose to add Newman/Haas Racing, we were excited to have that kind of talent and experience on Firestone tires."
Absent from Champ car competition for two decades, Firestone returned to the sport in 1995 with just five drivers. That number doubled to 10 drivers in 1996 and tripled to 15 drivers in 1997. In 1998 CART competition, a total of 19 drivers were racing on Firehawks.
In each of the last three CART seasons, Firestone-equipped drivers have led the most laps, won the most poles, won the most races and won every PPG Cup. The most impressive results came in 1998, when Firestone drivers won 18 of 19 races, started from the pole position 18 times, won every road, street and 500-mile event, swept the podium nine times, captured nine of the top-10 finishing positions in seven races and led 72 percent of all race laps.
"Those overwhelming statistics reflect how - race after race - the consistency and durability of our tires were deciding factors in who won and who didn't," Speyer said. "When you look at those qualities, and the legendary capabilities of the Newman/Haas Racing team, it was inevitable we would work together."
Newman/Haas Racing's decision to compete on Firestone tires reunites the Nashville-based tire manufacturer with some of the most illustrious names in racing. Team co-owner Paul Newman has raced on the company's tires many times, most recently in the Bridgestone Supercar series. Michael's father Mario won the 1969 Indy 500 on Firestone tires, and Christian's uncle Emerson won the 1972 FIA World Championship on Firestone tires.
"In a way, this is a new chapter in the family album," Speyer said. "We take great pride in having worked with the best of the best throughout our racing efforts, and are pleased to refresh our relationship with the talented members of the Newman/Haas team. Carl Haas is a mastermind in motorsports, and we couldn't be happier to be a part of his future success. We're sure Michael and Christian will be even stronger competitors this year, and we expect them to turn in some outstanding performances on CART's varied tracks."
Both Newman/Haas drivers were enthusiastic about the switch.
"As a team we have a responsibility to our sponsors and we feel that Firestone will help us meet those expectations," Andretti said. "Firestone has put forth an amazing effort since it became involved in CART, every year becoming more dominant, and we saw a benefit to being involved with their program. Every race car driver at this level wants to be the fastest and have the best equipment; I want to win every race that I compete in and I look forward to the opportunity to win many races in 1999 on Firestone tires."
Fittipaldi echoed those sentiments, saying "I'm very excited to start the season on Firestone tires. The commitment they have shown in the series has been amazing. We had a competitive package last season, but it wasn't as competitive as some others at times. We're looking forward to some intensive testing in the next three weeks before the season starts and hope to continue Firestone's dominance in CART by adding our own wins."
Andretti and Fittipaldi will get a taste of Firestone race tire performance this week during a testing session at the Homestead Motorsports Complex. The pair will join 13 other Firestone-equipped drivers preparing for the Mar. 21 CART season opener in southern Florida.
Source: CART Online