Firestones & Milestones The Firestone Racing program today earned its 99th CART pole since the brand returned to the top forms of open wheel competition in 1995. The majority of those poles (61 of 89) came when two tire companies were in CART...
Firestones & Milestones
The Firestone Racing program today earned its 99th CART pole since the brand returned to the top forms of open wheel competition in 1995. The majority of those poles (61 of 89) came when two tire companies were in CART from 1995 through the end of the 1999 season. Gil de Ferran earned today's pole with a lap of 117.453 mph (1:08.596). He will be joined on the front row by his Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves.
The race tomorrow will mark Firestone's 100th CART win since the 1995 return, and the Nashville-based tire manufacturer is dedicating that victory to Alex Zanardi. Injured during the Sept. 15 CART race in Germany, Zanardi produced 15 CART wins on Firestone tires, the most of 24 drivers who have won on Firehawks since the return.
Al Speyer, Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Director: "It's always great to visit the Monterey Peninsula and Laguna Seca Raceway, but this weekend is extra special as we observe some Firestone milestones. The 99th pole today and the 100th win tomorrow since our 1995 return are two special entries in the Firestone record books. We're very pleased to note those accomplishments at Laguna Seca, a track that has repeatedly allowed us to flex our technological muscles. We've won the last six consecutive CART events here, including four in tire-to-tire competition with another manufacturer. One of our greatest memories here - or anywhere for that fact - is Alex Zanardi riding on Firestones in 1996 to pass a Goodyear-equipped Bryan Herta in the corkscrew. But when Herta later switched to Firestones, Alex and Bryan dueled in the corkscrew in '98, and Bryan could match him in grip to hold him off. Teams and drivers are telling us the Firehawks we brought to this weekend's competition come up to speed quickly and are consistent throughout the time on track. That's a big plus in setting up cars for qualifying and race sessions. Looking at the times from today's qualifying, it's obvious these drivers have the grip they need for this track. We congratulate Roger Penske for having both his drivers on the front row, and Gil de Ferran for giving us our 99th CART pole."
Roger Penske: "We can run six or seven laps as hard as we want to go in qualifying and the tires stay consistent. That's very important. I think the best example of how consistent the Firestones are was in Houston (Oct. 7). That's the most decisive situation I've seen, with more than 60 laps on a set of tires and they were just absolutely perfect from start to finish."
Qualifying temperature ranges: 84-85 degrees ambient (F) 108-111 degrees track (F).