IRL: Nashville: Firestone preview

Firestone Welcomes IRL to its Hometown for 4th Straight Year LEBANON, Tenn. (July 15, 2004) -- There's nothing like a little home cookin', something the Firestone Racing team has come to enjoy four straight years now in the Indy Racing ...

Firestone Welcomes IRL to its Hometown for 4th Straight Year

LEBANON, Tenn. (July 15, 2004) -- There's nothing like a little home cookin', something the Firestone Racing team has come to enjoy four straight years now in the Indy Racing League.

This weekend's IRL IndyCar and Menards Infiniti Pro series events take place at Nashville Superspeedway, the home track for Firestone since its corporate headquarters is located in Music City. The only tire supplier to compete in every IRL race since the league's inception takes the greatest pride in hosting IRL officials, teams and fans for the weekend that includes the climactic event, the Firestone Indy 200 race for the Indy cars Saturday evening in front of a live national-television audience.

But the main event is just the final activity in what is certainly a Firestone-flavored weekend. From company picnics at corporate headquarters to entertainment of more than 2,400 employees and their guests on race evening, the people at Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT), are displaying unsurpassed support for the event.

"We cannot be more pleased to have the IRL visiting our hometown for the fourth consecutive year," said Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports for BFNT. "It gives us a chance to show off our wonderful city and the strong backing our company has for the Firestone Indy 200 and the IRL. As title sponsor for this event and exclusive supplier to both the IndyCar and Infiniti Pro series, we've once again scheduled a wealth of activities around the races themselves so that our Firestone 'family' has the most enjoyable weekend possible."

The festivities kicked off today with the annual corporate picnic at BFNT headquarters in Nashville. Included for the 850 corporate employees and their families was a concert by country music artist John Berry, a visit by the Indy Racing Experience interactive display trailer, and an autograph session featuring nearly all 22 IndyCar Series drivers scheduled to race this weekend.

Prior to Saturday night's race, Firestone will host some 2,400 VIPs, employees, sales associates, dealers and guests at Nashville Superspeedway in by far its largest hospitality contingent of the season. Pre-race activities include BFNT Chairman and CEO Mark Emkes serving as grand marshal and delivering the famous words for drivers to start their engines. BFNT Consumer Tire Marketing President John Gamauf will have the rare thrill as honorary starter to wave the green flag commencing IndyCar Series racing to begin.

Of course, then it's down to business for the Firestone Racing group, as the 22 expected starters dice and duel on the high-banked concrete jungle. As such, Nashville Superspeedway poses a most unique challenge for Firestone engineers and chemists.

"The concrete surface is very abrasive and the steep banks generate greater speeds 0x2022 both of which can be tremendously taxing on tire wear," explained Speyer. "The Firestone race tire development group always seems to come up with the right answer for these perplexing situations and we think they've done so again this year by aligning the Nashville tire with our superspeedway tires, even though this oval isn't long enough to be considered a traditional superspeedway.

"The tire specification for this weekend is a mix of tires from our renowned Indy 500 program and from those run just two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway," Speyer continued. "We're confident they'll deliver the durability and consistency teams rely on from Firestone without question, but as always is the case, our engineers and technicians will work with each team to monitor tire wear and help them all maximize performance.

"We're optimistic the tire performance will again contribute to some magnificent and exciting racing, capping off a winning weekend all the way around for the Firestone family."

Firehawk Race Tires Supplied: Firestone delivered 764 Firehawk racing radials for use this weekend. Each car receives up to eight sets of tires (32 total) for use as its team sees fit throughout practice, qualifying and the race. To handle the abrasive concrete surface and high banking at Nashville Superspeedway, Firestone Racing engineers have switched the race specification to a more durable combination of tread compound and sidewall construction. This weekend's selection features race-proven elements from the line of Firestone's superspeedway race tires. The left-side tires hail from the same spec used at Indianapolis in 2002 and 2003. The right-side tires are identical in specification to those run two weeks ago at Kansas.

Firestone in the Indy Racing League: This weekend's race marks the 95th event since the IRL IndyCar Series debut in January 1996 -- and Firestone has been there for every race. The only tire manufacturer to have participated in every IRL event, Firestone is now in its ninth season of IRL competition and fifth year as sole supplier to the league, with 77 victories and seven of the league's nine championships to date. Again this season, Firestone is commemorating its status as the only tire manufacturer to have participated in every IRL race with the Firestone Performance Award, given to the driver leading the race lap that corresponds with the number of IndyCar Series races run to that point. This weekend's winner will be the leader of lap 95 and be presented with a $10,000 check from Firestone Racing during pre-race festivities at the July 25 race at Milwaukee.

Stagger Helps the Cars Go 'Round: Firestone engineers purposely design the right rear tire to have a diameter slightly greater than that of the left rear tire for oval competition. The size differential is minor -- just 0.42 of an inch this weekend at Nashville -- but the effect, called "stagger," helps the IndyCars turn left more naturally and smoothly -- and decreases the stresses on car and driver alike.

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Series IndyCar