IRL: Firestone "Test in the West" recap

Firestone Logs More Than 2,800 Flawless Practice Miles at PIR Two days of cool, sunny conditions set the scene for a perfect weekend of practice at Phoenix International Raceway, in the Indy Racing League's first open test of 2001. Fifteen...

Firestone Logs More Than 2,800 Flawless Practice Miles at PIR

Two days of cool, sunny conditions set the scene for a perfect weekend of practice at Phoenix International Raceway, in the Indy Racing League's first open test of 2001. Fifteen drivers completed 2,865 laps around the one-mile oval with no incidents. Testing went so well several teams opted to stay for another day Sunday.

Stephan Gregoire logged the fastest lap of the weekend on Friday, at 176.808 mph (20.3611 seconds), when his crew bolted on a new set of Firehawks after running most of the day on one set. Firestone emerged just as satisfied by again providing all the competitors unsurpassed reliability in their race tires.

"This weekend's tire performance at PIR was another affirmation of the Firestone Racing program's continued dedication to the sport," said Page Mader, Bridgestone/Firestone Senior Project Engineer. "The tires used the past two days are from the same specification that ran so successfully last year at all the IRL mile ovals. We were confident the Firehawks would maintain their superb level of performance, but to complete more than 2,800 miles with no tire issues or complaints is the greatest compliment we can take home. All the teams and drivers have come to rely on the consistency and durability their Firestone tires deliver each time out, and our primary goal for 2001 is to retain that well-placed loyalty and confidence."

Firestone is in its second season as sole tire supplier to the Indy Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams series, though both remain open to any competitor. Since re-entering the top ranks of open-wheel racing in 1995, Firestone has won 75 percent of the contests (82 of 109), including 26 of 43(60 percent) in the IRL.

Driver Quotes

Stephan Gregoire, Dick Simon Racing, fastest (176.808 mph, 20.3611 seconds):

"It was a very good weekend as far as speed, so that's very satisfactory. This is the very, very first test for the team this year, with a new car (Dallara). We can only be very happy. We don't have a set-up that is completely consistent yet, but the Firestone tires are consistent. The car doesn't go from one thing on new tires to another thing with 50-lap tires. At the end of the day yesterday, we went for a new set of tires and were surprised with the gain to be fastest."

Sam Hornish Jr., Panther Racing, second fastest (176.554 mph, 20.3904 seconds):

"We were just working on our race set-up, going out and making sure we can run long, consistent runs. The tires are doing really well. As usual, Firestone gave us great tires. I had a lot of success with them last year and I'm sure they'll keep staying that way. They're very consistent. We were running right at 21.1 seconds for 50 laps yesterday and did even better on two long runs today. On one run, we put on tires that already had 10 laps on them and ran them 45 more. We ran out of fuel before the tires could start to go away, which they just don't do."

Helio Castroneves, Team Penske, fourth fastest (174.412 mph, 20.6408 seconds):

"We have to test more to know the car better. Also the track is completely different than we're used to with the engines and cars, but so far, yes, I'm feeling pretty comfortable. The Firestone tires have again been very consistent, which I like. I was impressed with the staggers. Normally (in CART) we run about 40 or 41 (hundredths of an inch), but here it's like 65. Because we don't have a big engine, I think that's OK."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Stephan Gregoire , Helio Castroneves , Dick Simon , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske