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We're back! Indy cars WILL run on Firestone tires beyond 2011

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We're back! Indy cars WILL run on Firestone tires beyond 2011

One week ago, Firestone tires were out of IndyCar racing. Now they're back in.

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC will continue to supply  the IZOD IndyCar Series with Firestone tires through the 2013 race season, after announcing its "retirement " on March 4.

What changed in seven days?

"A week ago we were out, no question about it," Al Speyer, executive director of the Firestone racing program, told "We didn't change a thing."

The IndyCar owners, however, got together and reconsidered Bridgestone's offer.

"They ended up accepting an offer that we had previously set on the table," says Speyer. "We had given them several options to continue."

In a press release sent out by Bridgestone, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard addressed the finality of Bridgestone's annoucement last week.

"At the end of last week, we had reached the deadline where both organizations had to make a decision regarding the future to prepare our individual operations for the long term,” he said. “This is one of those decisions that it is imperative that you have the team owners 100% behind you.

"Early this week we called a meeting to walk the team owners through the process and hear their input. I’m happy to say we walk as one with Firestone."

“When we learned of this, we encouraged IndyCar to check with Firestone to see if there might be any chance to continue,” said Dennis Reinbold, owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. "We feel that it is important to maintain continuity with their excellent tires as we transition to the new car for 2012.

"The team owners are collectively very relieved that Firestone had an open mind and that they were able to reach this agreement with IndyCar. "

Also in the release, Speyer was quoted as saying the following:

"While we’ve reached the pinnacle of success in the IndyCar racing, we’re happy to extend our relationship with the IZOD IndyCar Series through 2013, and to continue our winning partnership. Meanwhile, we will continue to evaluate all options for promoting the Firestone brand inside and outside of motorsports, as the Firestone brand is a very important part of our business.”

(To check out the reasons was Bridgestone was getting out of IndyCar Racing, click on "Indy cars will ride on another tire brand in 2012.")

The Firestone Indy Lights Series still will have to be renamed after the upcoming season, however. Bridgestone will not supply Firestone tires to Indy Lights team owners after 2011.

"There is change involved here," says Speyer. "The (Indy Lights) development series continues through 2011, but starting in 2012, they will need to find a different supplier for the Indy Lights series. That also gives someone else a training ground to prepare for possibly moving up."

Does that mean Bridgestone is planning its exit strategy from the IZOD IndyCar Series after 2013, which will end a 23-year partnership?

"We're there through 2013, and who knows -- possibly beyond that."

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