CART FedEx Championship Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Calif. Saturday, April 7, 2001 - Qualifying Notes Firestone Shows Its Best Stuff in Wet and Dry of Long Beach Rain threw a wild card into the mix midway through qualifying but ...
CART FedEx Championship Series
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Calif.
Saturday, April 7, 2001 - Qualifying Notes
Firestone Shows Its Best Stuff in Wet and Dry of Long Beach
Rain threw a wild card into the mix midway through qualifying but Helio Castroneves prevailed with a sensational lap of 103.343 mph to collect the fifth pole position of his FedEx Championship Series career - all five coming on Firestone Firehawk tires. Kenny Brack, whose top lap was 102.534 mph, trailed Castroneves closely.
A light shower struck near the end of the first group's 30-minute qualifying session, forcing the second group to begin its session on rain tires. The rain soon stopped, however, and the track dried enough for the second group to log about half its session on dry tires. Coupled with the morning practice session under wet conditions nearly throughout, it gave all the teams an excellent opportunity to log extensive track time with the Firehawk rain tires.
"The changing conditions throughout the day provided the perfect platform for us to see how the Firestone tires would perform, and we're most pleased," said Al Speyer, Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Director. "We saw the whole gamut of possibilities today, from very wet conditions, to a drying track, to bone dry - and the Firehawks were up to the task in every instance. We are more confident than ever that, no matter the weather tomorrow, the drivers can depend on their Firestone tires. We're looking forward to a most exciting race and to crowning the latest Firestone winner at Long Beach."
Firestone is serving its second season as sole tire supplier to the FedEx Championship Series, though the series remains open to any competitor. Firestone has won 75 percent (83 of 110) of the CART races since it joined the series in 1995, including the last five straight at Long Beach.
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Honda/Reynard/Firestone: "In the wet, the Firestone rain tires were very good. As soon as we put on the dry tires it was good as well. They came right up (to temperature) really fast. Then on the second set (of dry tires), it was even better. After just one or two laps I was able to run a quick lap. We'll be fine in the race either way."
Qualifying temperatures ranged from 63 to 73 degrees track and from 58 to 63 degrees ambient.