>From CART Media Relations Firestone, winner of ten of last year's 16 PPG Cup races, will return to the series this year with an even stronger contingent of top teams. Defending PPG Cup champion Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi are both back in...
>From CART Media Relations
Firestone, winner of ten of last year's 16 PPG Cup races, will return to the series this year with an even stronger contingent of top teams. Defending PPG Cup champion Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi are both back in the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing stable where they combined to win seven races and 10 pole positions a year ago. Vasser won three of the first four 1996 CART race and four overall on his way to the title. Zanardi won three races at Portland, Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca.
Tasman motorsports teammates Andre Ribeiro and Adrian Fernandez provided Firestone with its remaining three victories last year on the CART circuit, and they will be racing for more in 1997. Ribeiro won in his home country of Brazil and later at Michigan in the Marlboro 500. Fernandez earned his first victory at Toronto.
Also returning to the Firestone fold is Scott Pruett, who served as the tire program's test driver in 1994 and logged the first victory for the Firehawk in 1995 in the Marlboro 500. Pruett will have Raul Boesel as a teammate this year on the Brahma Sports Team (Patrick Racing), the veteran Brazilian's first season on Firestones. Greg Moore is back with the Player's/Forsythe team after an impressive rook campaign that saw him finish ninth in the season standings. Among his highlights were a second place finish at Nazareth and third-place showings at Australia and Cleveland.
Parker Johnstone is a Firestone veteran in 1997, but will be racing under new colors. The amiable driver has taken his talents from the Brix/Comptech team to Team KOOL Green this season, but he'll still be riding on Firehawks. The Barry Green team announced the switch to Firestone late last year.
A pair of promising CART drivers are new to the Firestone family in 1997. The PacWest Racing duo of Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell will race on Firestones for the first time. Arciero/Wells Racing's Max Papis will also get his first full season on Firestones. The team will also field Hiro Matsushita who returns for a second stint with Arciero/Wells (1995) but his third-straight season on Firestones.