IRL: Richmond: Firestone race report

Wheldon Keeps the Faith in his Firestone Tires, Nabs 2nd Win Andretti Green Racing driver Dan Wheldon employed a savvy race strategy and relied on the unbeatable durability of his Firestone Firehawk race tires to collect his second victory of...

Wheldon Keeps the Faith in his Firestone Tires, Nabs 2nd Win

Andretti Green Racing driver Dan Wheldon employed a savvy race strategy and relied on the unbeatable durability of his Firestone Firehawk race tires to collect his second victory of the 2004 season. Wheldon, in the Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda on Firestone tires, started a season-worst 20th but put himself in contention by not pitting for fuel when the leaders did 68 laps from the finish.

Wheldon wound up running the final 121 laps around the ¾-mile Richmond oval (90.75 miles) without a pit stop and with the same set of Firehawk racing radials. It mattered not. Wheldon held off all challenges to win over Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske. Castroneves' last-lap pass of Meira was disallowed by the IRL when it learned caution lights had remained on around the track following a lap 250 restart. Wheldon had glowing comments for the tires amid the celebration in victory lane.

"I was very surprised at the pace I was able to run with all those laps on the Firestone tires," Wheldon said. "They stick sometimes when it seems they shouldn't, and I still had plenty left in the tires to do some donuts for the fans after. Somebody told me I had my quickest laps of the weekend at the end of the race, and you shouldn't be able to do that. Those guys at Firestone do an awesome job!"

Quote from Joe Barbieri, Project Supervisor, Firestone Racing: "This race featured plenty of strategy and uncertainty, but in the end the top finishers counted on their Firestone tires and it helped put them up front. Not only did Dan Wheldon run the last 121 laps (90.75 miles) on one set of Firehawks, but Helio Castroneves put 137 laps (102.75 miles) on his final set and Vitor Meira put 115 laps (86.25 miles) on the set that carried him to the finish. Richmond is an extremely demanding track on tires with its constant high loads, yet those drivers and teams had the unwavering confidence to run their Firestone tires long and hard - and the Firehawks stayed with them every step of the way. We take great pride in the faith the IRL teams have in our product."

Firestone Performance Award winner: Sam Hornish Jr. of Marlboro Team Penske earned the $10,000 Firestone Performance Award for leading lap 93 of tonight's race. The award commemorates the fact that Firestone has competed in every IRL IndyCar Series event since its inception in 1996. Tonight's race was the 93rd in league history.

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Race temperatures ranged from 80 to 94 degrees track and 76 to 81 degrees ambient (F). Race temperatures ranged from 27 to 34 degrees track and 24 to 27 degrees ambient (C).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira