IRL: St. Pete: Firestone Saturday report

Herta Triumphs for Pole Position in Debut of "Firestone Fast Six" The IRL IndyCar Series unveiled its unique qualifying format featuring the "Firestone Fast Six," and Bryan Herta was the main benefactor. Herta posted the fastest lap around...

Herta Triumphs for Pole Position in Debut of "Firestone Fast Six"

The IRL IndyCar Series unveiled its unique qualifying format featuring the "Firestone Fast Six," and Bryan Herta was the main benefactor. Herta posted the fastest lap around the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg temporary street circuit to win his second consecutive pole position this season with a lap of 103.664 mph (1 minute, 2.5096 seconds).

Under the plan, the top six drivers from single-car qualifying -- Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Sam Hornish Jr., Tomas Enge and Herta -- were each permitted a fresh set of Firestone Firehawk tires and then unleashed together on the circuit in a 10-minute shootout to see if any could top Franchitti's provisional pole speed of 102.794 mph. Three drivers were able to better their provisional time, with Herta eclipsing Castroneves and Kanaan on his fifth "Firestone Fast Six" lap.

"I wasn't sure beforehand if I was going to like this format, but I really like the Firestone Fast Six now," Herta said after collecting the first non-oval pole in IndyCar Series history in his XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda on Firestone tires. "It was a real challenge for the team and driver. I like the fact that after the one lap (in provisional qualifying) we had a chance to make a little change to the car, go back out and improve our time. And those Firestone tires just got better and better as we went."

Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "We're thrilled with the new qualifying format the IRL has created for the IndyCar Series street and road courses. The drivers need to push their Firestone tires to the limit in a single lap just to make the Firestone Fast Six, then they're armed with a new set of Firehawks to wage battle together in the shootout. We think it had fans on the edge of their seats and showed that the Firestone tires could deliver sensational laps whenever needed, be it one at a time in the single-lap session or in clusters during the final 10-minute session."

Qualifying temperatures ranged from 110 to 125 degrees track and 78 to 82 degrees ambient (F).

Qualifying temperatures ranged from 43 to 52 degrees track and 26 to 26 degrees ambient (C).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Sam Hornish Jr.