INDIANAPOLIS – Look at all the positive feedback on social media on how stoked the NTT IndyCar Series drivers are that Firestone signed an early extension with the series to remain as the sole tire supplier through the 2025 season.
Incredible to have @FirestoneRacing a part of the @IndyCar Series for the next 7 years. Looking forward to every single set! https://t.co/9qDCBB2fHg — Zach Veach (@ZachVeach) February 6, 2019
Can’t say enough about @FirestoneRacing’s commitment to performance and driver safety. Best of the best. Great news to have @FirestoneTires onboard with @IndyCar through 2025! #IndyCar pic.twitter.com/btwE4EqegF — Ryan Hunter-Reay (@RyanHunterReay) February 6, 2019
#babygirl likes commitment. Thank you to @FirestoneRacing… the #IndyCar official tire through 2025 pic.twitter.com/HcVzt63AF3 — Alexander Rossi (@AlexanderRossi) February 6, 2019
The greatest piece of mind for a driver is knowing we have a great tire underneath us to go racing, that wont blow up, will keep us safe & allow us to put on a great show. Thank you @FirestoneRacing for keeping the good news for @IndyCar flowing & for your commitment to our sport https://t.co/2Dw9Ckck2L — Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) February 6, 2019
The reliability factor that gives the Indy Car drivers comfort in their cars at a high rate of speed shouldn’t go unnoticed. See, the last thing you want to worry about as a driver in a race car is if your tires will hold up. When you’re going 230+ mph into a turn at Indy, or 150+ mph through Road America or similar speeds on a street course like St. Pete, you don’t want to have in the back of your mind a catastrophic failure due to a blown tire.
Other series aren’t so fortunate. NASCAR drivers complain about Goodyear a lot. Formula One has had their fair share of issues. IndyCar?
That’s a very good thing.
IndyCar legend Mario Andretti was on hand on Wednesday at the Dallara IndyCar Factory in downtown Speedway to discuss just how important of a deal this really is.
“You said the key word, stability factor,” Andretti told me of this new seven year contract between Firestone and IndyCar. “Knowing what you know of the quality of the tires and depend on that and you can now put that on the side. That’s now not something that we need to be concerned with now which is huge. Huge, huge, huge. Believe me.”
Andretti, raced all 200 Laps, or 500 Miles, on the same the same right rear tire in 1969. That tire was Firestone. That relationship has been strong ever since. He said that the stability and reliability of Firestone and IndyCar is huge in the paddock.
“Putting my drivers helmet on, I know what they think. I know what others drivers think. This is a big, big day for us and the series. There’s no better win-win situation than I can describe today.”
Andretti, noted that at one point there was another tire manufacturer trying to get in the series. He said the drivers quickly didn’t want to get involved.
“There were some rumblings couple years ago of another competitor coming in, so forth. I started asking the drivers. I said, Okay, Dario Franchitti, would you be the one that would actually volunteer to be the first test driver here at Indy for the other brand?
“He says, No way.
“I asked (Tony) Kanaan…
“It’s that critical. Now, the proprietary knowledge that Firestone and Bridgestone possess is not something that’s just proprietary. Believe me, that’s a fact. This is something that, again, because of this, the only thing that could be better than this announcement today is if the relationship would have been extended to 2050.”
Andretti also said that the tires are probably the only element that could actually take the series down, that could be the issue that cannot be really overcome.
“First of all, what is important about that is that the bigger element is that you can have a negative if you have issues,” Andretti told me. “To be able to put that aside. We love positive and I think this can guarantee almost as humanly possible as you can. IndyCar realizes how big of an importance that tire reliability is.
“I mean, we have a negative example here of what happened to Formula 1. I hate to say it, but I got to say it, because you had two tire brands involved. There was only one turn really that comes close to equaling what we’re experiencing today at the high speeds. The other brand, Michelin, had an issue. They were just popping tires, had a couple big crashes. You could see actually that ended pretty much the Formula 1 in Indianapolis.”