IZOD IndyCar Series - Firestone 550
Top-5 Finishers: 1. Justin Wilson; 2. Graham Rahal; 3. Ryan Briscoe; 4. James Hinchcliffe; 5. JR Hildebrand.
With the last-minute aerodynamic changes placed on the cars for race weekend, tire management became the key to success in the race. The Firestone tire specification for Texas, used last year at Kentucky and in the open test here last month under different aero rules, was tested to the limit. Drivers able to keep their tires under them for most or all of a fuel stint moved to the front. Race winner Justin Wilson was a perfect example. He completed two stints of 50-plus laps, yet was able to maintain quicker lap times than most others in the closing laps of those stints. It put Wilson in the hunt at the end, and he made the pass for the win on the next-to-last lap after leader Graham Rahal brushed the wall.
From race winner Justin Wilson, No. 18 Sonny's BBQ/Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The whole time (in practice and qualifying Friday), we were just trying to work on tire life. We knew that with this little downforce, we'd be sliding all the way around here. It's a four-wheel drift at both ends of the track. Firestone has great tires but no one can take that abuse on this kind of banking. I knew I had to just manage it and make sure we didn't burn the tires too early. The cars weren't stuck and you had to manage the tires. The car was fantastic; on long runs it just got better and better. I had a lot of fun out there. To get a win on an oval, when everyone said I couldn't win on ovals, is just a relief. I'm so happy."
From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "What another incredible and unpredictable race here at Texas and for the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012. The drivers asked for less downforce in the cars and got it, which brought driving ability much more back into the equation, and we all benefited from that with a great show tonight. There was lots of give and take throughout the race as the drivers tried to manage their tire performance throughout a stint under these new aerodynamic conditions. Justin Wilson did an unbelievable job maximizing the performance of his Firestone tires, with stints of 58 and 52 laps - and he was nearly as fast at the end of those runs as he was at the beginning. Our hats are off to Justin and the entire Dale Coyne Racing team for a well-deserved win. Dale has been a part of the Firestone family for a long, long time and we're pleased to see him back in victory lane. The Firestone 550 was a great success for us, and we cannot thank Eddie Gossage and the Texas Motor Speedway staff enough once again for the wonderful effort they put forth."