LONG POND, Pa. — It seemed appropriate that Marco Andretti was the first IZOD IndyCar Series driver to turn a lap at Pocono Raceway during Wednesday’s Firestone tire test at the 2.5-mile triangular track.
Andretti’s grandfather, father and cousin competed in the Quaker State 500 on Aug. 20, 1989 — the last time an Indy car turned a lap on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Marco was 2½ years old.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment and we belong here. This place was built for Indy cars. The facility is fabulous and was my favorite superspeedway to drive on,” said Mario Andretti, who won the 1986 race and started from the pole in ’87. “This track is different from any other superspeedway we run because of the very different radius of every corner and also different banking. It’s what I really enjoyed about this place.”
Marco Andretti was joined by four-time series champion Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 2012 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports and three-time series championship runner-up Will Power of Team Penske (two Chevrolet and two Honda teams).
IZOD IndyCar Series point leader Helio Castroneves, along with hundreds of spectators, also attended.
Firestone engineers used the Indianapolis 500 tire specification as a baseline and then tested a number of compound and construction alternatives. Driver feedback, race team engineer input and tire performance data collected from the test will be evaluated to determine the best tire specification to develop for the race weekend.