IRL: Phoenix: Firestone race report

Firestone Tires Key in Hornish Win Sam Hornish Jr. picked up his first win in more than a year, beating Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves across the line to give the teammates a 1-2 finish at an unusually...

Firestone Tires Key in Hornish Win

Sam Hornish Jr. picked up his first win in more than a year, beating Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves across the line to give the teammates a 1-2 finish at an unusually cool Phoenix International Raceway.

Consistency was the key, both for Hornish and for his Firestone Firehawk tires. Despite the unseasonable temperatures, the tires, which are designed specifically to withstand scorching heat, performed up to expectations all day long. That performance and durability came heavily into play late in the race with Hornish closely battling Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti. On the final pit stop of the day, with Franchitti taking on fuel and a new set of tires, Hornish and his crew chose to forgo a tire change ensuring he would maintain his lead. This left Hornish to rely heavily on the performance that he had seen from his tires throughout the race, and the strategy paid off as he held off Franchitti on the restart and pulled away to win his first race of the season.

"The tires were great," said Hornish. "Actually during the first run we left the tires on after the first 20 laps and went to lap 80, and then we put a new set of tires on and kept them on. So I knew at the end of the race the tires had been very good, and we were running almost the same speed we ran at the beginning of the tire run. I'm just super-excited about the fact that we could leave them on there at that last stop and get another 20 laps out of them."

Quote from Joe Barbieri, manager, Firestone Racing: "This is exactly the kind of racing we like to see. Everyone was driving hard today -- we saw a couple of drivers really pushing the limits to get through the field. We saw the race winner leave old tires on during his last stop, knowing how good they'd been all day and trusting they'd do the job for him. And throughout the day and all of the action on track, every tire out there was consistent and delivered the kind of performance we work really hard to give these drivers and teams. This turned out to be a very exciting race, and we're certainly glad to see the kind of confidence in our tires that we saw from Sam and his team today."

Firestone Performance Award winner: Helio Castroneves of Team Penske earned the $10,000 Firestone Performance Award for leading lap 105 of today's race. The award commemorates the fact that Firestone has competed in every IRL IndyCar Series event since the league's inaugural race in 1996. Today's race was the 105th in league history. Castroneves will be presented with a $10,000 check during pre-race ceremonies for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske