Rice's Comeback Win Increases Firestone's Indy 500 Total to 55 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 30, 2004) - Buddy Rice and Rahal-Letterman Racing capped a sensational month for the Firestone Racing program by delivering the exclusive Indy Racing...
Rice's Comeback Win Increases Firestone's Indy 500 Total to 55
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 30, 2004) - Buddy Rice and Rahal-Letterman Racing capped a sensational month for the Firestone Racing program by delivering the exclusive Indy Racing League tire supplier its 55th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race victory today - a sum more than all other suppliers combined.
Rice, driving the Argent/Pioneer G Force/Honda on Firestone Firehawk tires, led 91 laps in the event, which was delayed by morning rains and shortened to 180 laps when showers returned. Rice overcame a stalled engine on a pit stop, battled back and took the lead for good on the 172nd lap.
It gave Rice his first IRL IndyCar Series victory in the biggest race of them all. Afterward, the 28-year-old couldn't be more thankful for the Firestone tires that carried him to a soggy victory lane.
"The Firestone tires were excellent today," Rice said. "I used them up every run, for sure, but they were great. I can't say enough about how well the tires performed. Without all that Firestone grip, I could not have made this win happen."
Team co-owner Bobby Rahal was just as grateful for the performance of the Firehawk tires, which bore a colorful look this month at Indy that featured a color Indianapolis Motor Speedway wings-and-wheel logo decal on the sidewalls.
"Firestone did a great job for us - not just today but all month long," said Rahal, the 1986 Indy winner. "The Firestone staff is just tremendous. We had three cars in this race - that's a lot of tires and a lot of effort on their part. It's a great pleasure for me to be associated with Firestone."
Firestone produced more than 5,700 tires for use this month and the Firehawks responded with more than 50,000 of flawless performance.
"It was a pretty wild race with a number of incidents, and the rain adding extra drama," said Al Speyer, Executive Director of Firestone Racing. "But there's no question that Buddy Rice drove a heck of a race and clearly deserved the win. Several times he had to work his way back to the front and he overcame each challenge with ease.
"We're particularly happy that the Firestone Firehawks performed so well for everyone this month," Speyer added. "And once again today, in both dry and even light rain at the end, they held in there for everybody. It's Buddy Rice's first win and he becomes the 55th Indy 500 winner on Firestone tires - a record of which we are extremely proud."