IRL: Nazareth: Firestone preview

Race Distance: 225 miles (225 laps around the mile oval). Firehawk Race Tires Supplied: Firestone delivered 704 Firehawk racing radials for use this weekend. Each IndyCar Series entry receives up to seven sets of tires (28 total) to use as its...

Race Distance: 225 miles (225 laps around the mile oval).

Firehawk Race Tires Supplied: Firestone delivered 704 Firehawk racing radials for use this weekend. Each IndyCar Series entry receives up to seven sets of tires (28 total) to use as its team sees fit during practice, qualifying and the race. Firestone Racing engineers selected a short-oval tire specification very similar to the Firehawks used at Nazareth in 2002. This year's choice, which performed quite well at Phoenix in March, features a slightly more durable compound formula on the right-side tires than last year.

Stagger Helps the Cars Go 'Round: Firestone engineers purposely design the right rear tire with a circumference slightly larger than that of the left rear tire for oval competition. The size differential is minor - just 0.60 of an inch this weekend - but the effect, called "stagger," helps the IndyCars turn left more naturally and smoothly, and decreases the stresses on car and driver alike.

Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "Firestone takes great pride in again being title sponsor for the Nazareth race, the third Firestone-sponsored IRL event in the past six weeks. This race weekend is special for us because it takes place in the hometown of the Andretti family that is dear to the Firestone program. We're extremely honored that Michael Andretti agreed to be Grand Marshal for the Firestone Indy 225. It will help us pay homage to one of the great racers of our time. Another good friend of Firestone, actor and race fan Anthony Edwards, will wave the green flag as honorary starter. As Michael Andretti would tell you, Nazareth is a tricky mile oval that demands the best of a race tire, and we're confident the Firehawks selected for this weekend are up to the task. We've gone with a slightly 'harder' compound on the right side to better stand up to the tight corners and elevation changes around the track. This tire was highly praised at the Phoenix race this year and drivers who tested recently at Nazareth praised its abilities as well. We're excited about the prospects of another fast-paced and highly competitive IndyCar Series weekend that features the Firestone name."

Firestone Performance Award: In recognition of the fact that the tire maker has competed in every IRL race, Firestone Racing awards $10,000 at each 2003 event to the leader of the lap that coincides with the number of IndyCar Series races that have taken place. Since this weekend's race is the 84th in series history, the leader of lap 84 Sunday will earn the bonus.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti