IRL: Richmond: Firestone qualifying report

The ¾-mile oval at Richmond offered up a good day of action as the Indy Racing League practiced and qualified for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge. For the third time this season, the Penske Pair - Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves -...

The ¾-mile oval at Richmond offered up a good day of action as the Indy Racing League practiced and qualified for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge. For the third time this season, the Penske Pair - Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves - will start from the front row. De Ferran earned the pole with a 168.705 mph lap, while Castroneves qualified second with a 168.013 mph lap.

The duo had kind words for the performance of their Firehawks, as did several other drivers. Pennzoil Panther Racing's Sam Hornish said "We put a lot of laps on today and Firestone has given us some pretty good tires; the grip is up from last year, even with the new sealer on the track." Greg Ray, driving the #11 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing car said "The tires are working great; we ran the same set of tires really all the first practice and really all the second practice, we only changed right at the very end and I think we did our second-fastest time on tires that had 60 or 70 laps on them. I don't think tire wear is going to be an issue; they've been real consistent so far - and I'm happy Firestones are awesome as always."

Firestone Racing Project Supervisor Joe Barbieri:
"To compete on a tight track like this, where tire to tire racing is inevitable, you have to have a lot of confidence in yourself, your team and your equipment. We talked to several drivers after today's practice and qualifying sessions, and it appears the Firehawks are again delivering the grip and durability these drivers need. We congratulate Team Penske on another tremendous showing; Gil and Helio obviously have found the right way around this track, and they're getting great cars from their teams. We're certainly pleased the Firehawks are working well for them."

Pole winner Gil de Ferran, Team Penske Car #6 (Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"On a track this tight, starting on the pole is very helpful. The tires have been really consistent for us; we ran with fairly old tires this morning and we were really happy with the balance of the car."

Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Car #3 (Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"It's a very difficult track; hopefully during the race we'll keep a good consistent car. Grip is very important. The tires are working very well for us."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske