First Firehawk Cup goes To A.J. Foyt IV; Vitor Meira earns pole for Chevy 500. FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 14, 2002) - Another new entry was made in racing history books today at Texas Motor Speedway as A.J. Foyt IV became the first season points...
First Firehawk Cup goes To A.J. Foyt IV; Vitor Meira earns pole for Chevy 500.
FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 14, 2002) - Another new entry was made in racing history books today at Texas Motor Speedway as A.J. Foyt IV became the first season points champion of the new Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, earning the inaugural Firehawk Cup. Fans also saw qualifying action for tomorrow's season-ending, championship-determining Indy Racing League event, with Vitor Meira earning the pole for Team Menard on Firestone tires.
Firestone Racing Executive Director Al Speyer, who presented the Firehawk Cup to Foyt and his grandfather/ team owner A.J. Foyt in victory circle, said the moment was significant for the team, for the series and for the Firestone Racing program.
"When the Indy Pro Series was announced last August, we knew it had tremendous value as a driver development program," Speyer said. "What we didn't know at the time, however, was just how exciting the racing would be in the inaugural season. We're very proud of the contribution our Firehawks have made to the great racing we've witnessed in seven very impressive Pro Series events this year.
"In addition to congratulating the Foyts for the win, we also tip our Firestone Racing caps to Tony George (IRL President and CEO) and Pro Series director Roger Bailey for their success in creating and shepherding the series through its first season. From the Firestone perspective, it went about as smoothly as any new series launch in motorsports history. The racing was first class, the young drivers learned a lot, the fans saw some great racing and sponsors enjoyed an excellent return on their investment. We can't wait to be back with the series in 2003."
Both grandfather and grandson had kind words for the performance of their Firehawks this season. The elder four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Foyt said "The Firestone tires were wonderful on the Pro Series. I have no qualms; the tires have been really good all year."
The newly crowned Indy Pro Series champion was equally complimentary, saying "The Firestones have been great all year. We haven't had a single problem, not even a cut tire, so we're very happy with Firestone."
With one championship decided today at Texas Motor Speedway, there is still one in the balance - the points championship for the Indy Racing League. The competitive nature of today's qualifying session for the Chevy 500 provided strong clues about what fan's can expect to see tomorrow when that race gets underway.
"It's going to be a barnburner," Speyer said. "The IRL and IMS combination has always been a winner, with so many events here featuring miles and miles of two-abreast and three-abreast racing. The Firehawks we brought for this event feature different left and right side compound/construction combinations, offering excellent grip and durability. Based on what we've seen in practice and qualifying, the tires appear to be spot on in giving drivers the performance characteristics needed to compete here."
MBNA Pole winner Vitor Meira, (Team Menard Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone) confirmed that analysis this afternoon after running a 221.594 mph lap, saying "We've run three or four sets of Firestones so far and they're all the same. The grip and consistency is very, very good. I'm pretty sure they'll be the same for the race."
The driver winning the IRL season championship Sunday will also produce the 100th major racing series championship earned on Firestone tires. The Firestone Racing program began in 1909, and since that start, drivers on Firestone tires have recorded championships in nearly two dozen major racing series, competing around the planet in widely varying types of competition.
"While we're proud of our past, we believe Firestone has a very bright future with the Indy Pro Series and the Indy Racing League," Speyer said. "It was great to present the Firehawk Cup to A.J. Foyt IV today, and we looking forward to earning another IRL championship tomorrow."