Firestone GP of Alabama preview
Race Distance: 214.2 miles/344.7 km (90 laps on the 2.38-mile/3.83-km, 14-turn permanent road course).
Television/Radio Broadcast: Live - Sunday, April 1, at 2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, the IMS Radio Network and XM Radio 94 and Sirius Radio 212.
Firestone Firehawk Race Tires Supplied:
* Primary (black-sidewall) dry-condition slicks: 692, each entry gets five sets (20 total tires);
* Alternate (red-sidewall) dry-condition slicks: 366, each entry gets three sets (12 total tires);
* Wet-condition (rain) tires with grooved tread pattern: 468, each entry has five sets of the street-course rain tire available this weekend.
The alternate tire program, part of the IZOD IndyCar Series since 2009, calls for a second tire specification at a road- or street-course race weekend using the same tire construction as the primary specification, but with a softer tread compound to provide more grip and faster lap times while trading off compound durability in exchange for those shorter-term advantages. Firestone's alternate tires are easily identified by their bright red sidewalls.
Firestone Racing engineers have selected primary and alternate tire specifications for Barber that are new for this year. The 2012 Barber primary and alternate compounds are softer (less durable) than their 2011 counterparts. Both 2012 compounds were tested in November, 2011 at Barber on a DW12. The construction has changed very slightly compared to 2011 and has been designed to improve grip. The Firestone rain tire for this weekend is the same rain spec used in the last half of 2011.
Per series regulations, all cars must use at least one set of primary tires and one new alternate set during the race, each for a minimum of two green-flag laps. Otherwise, teams are free to use their tire allotment as they see fit, though each car is limited to one set of tires (team choice of primary or alternate) for each qualifying segment.
From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "After a successful season opener in St. Petersburg, the IZOD IndyCar Series is off to its first permanent road course event of the year at Barber Motorsports Park. After winning in St. Pete, Helio Castroneves was very complimentary of the direction Firestone Racing engineers have taken for 2012, noting that tires played a key role in his victory. Both the primary and alternate specification Firestone tires proved to be consistent and durable in the first round, and we expect to see the same level of performance at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend. The fans in Alabama have really gotten behind the IZOD IndyCar Series, and this race has quickly become a major event on the schedule. We can't wait until those fans get to see and hear the new cars and engines, and the same reliable Firestone Racing tires, in person."
Firestone Racing History of Note: In 2011, Will Power put 31 laps (74 miles) on a used set of alternate Firestone Racing tires en route to leading all 90 laps for a dominant victory. St. Petersburg race winner Helio Castroneves visited victory circle at the inaugural Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in 2010.