Unlike Goodyears, Firestone tires have no problem at Indy
Unlike the Goodyear tires that NASCAR uses and that can't run more than 10 laps without going up in dust or blistering, Firestone Tires used by the IRL have had no such problems on the diamond ground Indy surface.
Despite the rainy weather that's plagued Indianapolis 500 practice this week, the new specification Firestone tires have already shown that they are up to the task of taking on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. More than 9,700 issue-free miles have been turned on the Firehawk racing radials heading into pole day qualifying Saturday.
Firestone Racing developed an updated tire spec for this May that features a new compound formula at all four tire positions, as well as a slight change to the right-front tire construction to assist in reducing understeer. Through today's practice session, a total of 3,902 laps have been completed on the 21/2-mile oval and driver feedback regarding the Firestone tires has been overwhelmingly positive.
"We are ecstatic over how the Firestone tires have fared so far, and apparently we're not the only ones," said Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing. "Helio Castroneves made a point to tell me this morning that he loved the tires. We honestly expected nothing less from the tire performance, but when you bring a new specification to a track, until the cars actually put down some laps, you can never be absolutely certain. But we are very happy with the Firehawks' performance thus far.
"Teams are focused on qualifying right now, so there have not been many long runs thus far," Speyer added. "Several teams have put what amounts to a full stint on a set of Firehawks over some short runs and those tires have looked great. They've shown nice, smooth, even wear across the tire, which is what we're looking for. From our perspective, the tires are working really, really well."
"The tires are very good," said Team Penske's Castroneves. "They are able to hold quite some time compared to last year. They seem to be pretty good for me. From the beginning of the practice we ran like about a stint on the tires and they were beautiful. We feel that we're in the right direction."
"You always want the ultimate performance in qualifying trim and the tires seem to be working quite well," said Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. "On a green track yesterday we ran a lot of laps on our first set, and it was fine. I think next week is going to give a better indication of how they're wearing, but so far not too bad. Not too bad."
Scott Dixon, Franchitti's teammate, agreed. "They seem to be pretty good," Dixon said of his Firestones. "It's always different each year with the car set-ups and things like that, but consistency-wise, the tires have been fantastic."