IRL: St. Pete: Firestone race report

Wheldon leads Andretti Green Grand Slam in 1st IRL Street Dan Wheldon had a mirror full of teammate Tony Kanaan over the final nine laps, but the Brit relied on the unfailing grip of his Firestone Firehawk tires to carry him to victory and they...

Wheldon leads Andretti Green Grand Slam in 1st IRL Street

Dan Wheldon had a mirror full of teammate Tony Kanaan over the final nine laps, but the Brit relied on the unfailing grip of his Firestone Firehawk tires to carry him to victory and they did. Wheldon won today's race by 1.4577 seconds over Kanaan and led a 1-2-3-4 finish for Andretti Green Racing, with stablemates Dario Franchitti (third) and Bryan Herta (fourth) rounding out the AGR sweep in the first-ever street-circuit race in IndyCar Series history.

Differing pit strategies jumbled the leaderboard throughout the 100-lap event and rookie Ryan Briscoe of Target Chip Ganassi Racing appeared poised for his first victory until he and Kanaan bumped following a restart on lap 92. Briscoe went into a tire barrier and Wheldon slipped into the lead as Kanaan slowed to steady his Dallara/Honda. Harried by his teammate the rest of the way, Wheldon would not be denied.

"I'm just happy my Firestone tires stuck because anytime Kanaan is coming up on you, you need every inch of grip on that tire that you can possibly get," said Wheldon, who recently moved to St. Petersburg. "Fortunately they held up because that guy can push you really hard. I think the tires helped keep him at bay, so I'm real happy. It's a fantastic result to have our guys finish one through four and for me to win in my new hometown."

Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "This was an incredible finish to an incredible weekend. Dan had to push to the limit because Tony was breathing down his neck, and Dario was running nearly a qualifying pace most of the race to make up for the fuel intake problems his car had, yet the Firestone Firehawks held up sensationally for them all. The best tire story, though, may have been the Ganassi team. All three of their drivers each changed only one set of Firehawks throughout the race and all still ran up front until on-track incidents took out Ryan Briscoe and Darren Manning. Scott Dixon ran the first 63 laps on a single set of Firehawks 113 miles and the tires still had 25 percent of life left in them. The entire weekend was a success for Firestone, with a great pre-race in-store ticket promotion, the renewal of the Andretti-Unser racing rivalry on Firestone tires in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series race capped by Marco Andretti's exciting victory, and the nail-biting IndyCar Series race in front of a great crowd in a sensational setting. We hope this is the beginning of a long relationship among Firestone, the IRL St. Petersburg."

Firestone Performance Award winner: Pole sitter Bryan Herta of Andretti Green Racing earned the Firestone Performance Award for leading the lap when the 106th race mile was completed today. Normally the $10,000 award goes to the driver leading the lap that coincides with the number of cumulative IndyCar Series races run to that point (106 this weekend), to commemorate Firestone supplying tires for every race in league history. Since today's race was 100 laps long, the bonus went to Herta for leading lap 59.

Race temperatures ranged from 109 to 132 degrees track and 76 to 79 degrees ambient (F).

Race temperatures ranged from 42 to 54 degrees track and 24 to 26 degrees ambient (C).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing