IndyCar concludes Firestone tire test on Wednesday at Indianapolis

Jamie Squire

IndyCar and Firestone are testing upwards of 25 different tire configurations at the historic 2.5-mile Speedway this week in preparation for future (and faster) Indianapolis 500 events.

It's like the Month of May -- but the diet version.

A two-day tire test continues today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway involving six teams (five of them are out of the championship picture) and is part of Firestone's plans to lay a groundwork for future races at the historic speedway.

Firestone periodically conducts tests of current and future tire compounds. The 2013 Indianapolis 500 tire was used as the baseline for this test and more than two dozen different compounds and specs will have been run on the 2.5-mile oval.

Participants included Tony Kanaan, three-time race winner Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Justin Wilson.

"Firestone never stops trying to give us a better product as a race tire," Wilson said in an IndyCar news release. "There are various things that they are working on, whether it be compound or construction. We're just here to give them feedback on how something feels."

Firestone is also working closely with IndyCar regarding the future implementation of aerodynamic configurations -- commonly referred to as aero kits -- for the IndyCar Series cars beginning in 2015. The Series has set a goal of attempting to break the current qualification speed records in 2016, in conjunction with the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

"IndyCar has come up with this plan that they want to slowly creep the speeds up at Indianapolis and we want to be on the forefront of that curve," Firestone chief engineer Dale Harrigle said. "We want to be working with them to see what we need to do now to develop for the future when the speeds increase...

"We have a pretty good window to operate in and we'll stay on top of it."

In the short term, Firestone is looking to provide more grip for the cars in 2014 and remain steadily involved with the cars leading up to the 2016 race. The current Indianapolis track record is 237.498 (set by Arie Luyendyk in 1996) and Andretti told Racer.com that he is happy to chase the record and appreciates a challenge.

"Bring it on, man," Andretti told the website. "I'm always for that, for sure. I think for four laps in qualifying it would be fine. Ten miles an hour is easier said than done once you get above the 230 (mph) range, but it's average 10 miles an hour, not just 10 miles an hour, so you need to be like 15 to 20 miles an hour quicker, so that makes a heck of a difference, but that's why they pay us the big bucks."

Even Luyendyk would like to see his record broken, tweeting on Wednesday that he is "hopeful IndyCar will succeed in getting Indy cars to go fast enough to break (his) qualifying record at Indianapolis."

Firestone picked up a huge break this week as temperatures soared over 90 degrees on both Tuesday and Wednesday. With conditions similar to those in May, Franchitti says Firestone was able to maximize how much everyone involved was able to learn.

"We expected it to be a lot cooler," Franchitti said. "We've tested this time of year before, and it's not that relevant, really. (But) with 90-plus degrees and humidity, we're learning a lot. Firestone is going to learn a lot, too, and Honda is finding stuff, as well, so it's really a win for everybody. When you're asked to come and do these things, it's a request you can't turn down."

The 2014 Indianapolis 500 will be run on Sunday, May 25.

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