IRL: Richmond: Firestone preview

Race Distance: 187.5 miles (250 laps around the 0.75-mile oval). Firehawk Race Tires Supplied: Firestone delivered 676 Firehawk racing radials for use this weekend. All were produced at the Firestone Technical Center in Akron, Ohio, and come...

Race Distance: 187.5 miles (250 laps around the 0.75-mile oval).

Firehawk Race Tires Supplied: Firestone delivered 676 Firehawk racing radials for use this weekend. All were produced at the Firestone Technical Center in Akron, Ohio, and come from the Firestone short-oval family of race tires. At the direction of Indy Racing League officials, each IndyCar Series entry is entitled to seven sets of Firehawks (28 total tires) to use at the team's discretion in practice, qualifying and the race. Firestone Racing engineers and chemists selected a tire specification for this weekend that features a more durable compound on the right-side tires than what was used at Richmond in 2003, while the left-side tires come from the same spec as a year ago. The more durable ("harder") right-side tires are from the same spec that was used earlier this season at Phoenix, so the IndyCar Series teams have experience with both the right- and left-side tires prior to this weekend.

Turn, Turn, Turn: The short Richmond oval - at but three-quarters of a mile - gives IndyCar Series drivers the sensation of constantly turning, so the stagger offered by the Firestone tires is never more important than at RIR. "Stagger" is a design feature of Firehawk race tires that purposely molds the right-rear tire with a slightly larger diameter than the left-rear tire. This allows the Indy cars to turn left more smoothly. The tires' diameter difference is tiny - only about 0.6 of an inch or a 2 percent variance - yet the effect is dramatic in making the car turn more naturally, which decreases the stresses placed on both driver and equipment.

From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "The Richmond bullring always poses a challenge for Firestone as the exclusive tire supplier, perhaps more so this year. Because the car is almost always turning, additional loading is constantly forced onto the right-side tires. That's why the Firestone Race Tire Development staff opted for a more durable right-side compound for race weekend this year. It should be able to resist heat build-up at race speeds, yet still provide the grip and durability that IRL drivers have come to rely on with Firestone. We're confident this tire combination will answer this challenge successfully, and as always, the Firestone engineers and technicians will work closely with all the IndyCar Series teams to monitor tire performance throughout the weekend."

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Series IndyCar