Tracy back in IndyCar limelight with one-race deal for Vision Racing
Paul Tracy will get his shot in the unified IndyCar Series after all -- for one race, anyway. Tracy will drive a third entry for Tony George's Vision Racing at the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton on July 26.
Updated: July 15, 2008, 10:36 PM ETBy John Oreovicz | Special to ESPN.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- From 1996 to 2007, the prospect of Paul Tracy driving in the IndyCar Series was about as likely as that of Brett Favre playing for an NFL team other than the Green Bay Packers.In 2008, the fact that Tracy has not been part of the unified IndyCar field is just as ludicrous.
Call it an injustice or whatever, American open-wheel racing's most successful active driver is finally going to get his IndyCar Series chance -- for one race, at least. Tracy will drive a third entry for Tony George's Vision Racing July 26 in the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton. The No. 22 Dallara-Honda will be sponsored by Subway restaurants and crewed by Walker Racing as fellow Champ Car World Series refugee Derrick Walker and his team also look to grab a foothold in the Indy Racing League.American open-wheel racing came together under the IndyCar umbrella in 2008, but it did so without Tracy -- whose 31 race wins and history of notoriety made him arguably one of the most valuable assets Champ Car had to offer.Instead, Tracy was contractually relegated to the penalty box -- if getting handsomely paid to do nothing can be called a penalty -- and he could only watch from home in Las Vegas as IndyCar racing started the rebuilding process.Tracy wanted to come back this year and be a part of the unified open-wheel series, but by electing not to field an Indy car, his team (Forsythe Championship Racing) wouldn't let him. In a remote way, that's the same kind of treatment Favre has gotten from the Packers, who have told the perennial All-Pro he may have to sit on the sidelines in a backup role. There are other obvious comparisons between Tracy and Favre. They both have a gunslinger mentality, and they both collected only one championship over the course of unusually long careers.Favre and Tracy created excitement every time they competed, even though they often made as many mistakes as miracles. But most of all, they connected with the public.Favre's status in America is well known and Tracy is a star of similar magnitude in Canada, where open-wheel racing generally remains a major sport.That's why it was so critical to get Tracy on board for next weekend's race at Edmonton's City Centre Airport. As an 11th-hour addition to the IndyCar schedule after the demise of Champ Car, Edmonton was facing long odds for success without a single Canadian driver in the field.Tracy's addition should ensure the kind of full grandstands the Edmonton race attracted over the past three years as a Champ Car event. It should also provide a boost to Toronto's effort to get a second Canadian event on the 2009 IndyCar Series schedule.The last time Tracy set foot in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the day he and Team Green were informed their protest of the result of the 2002 Indianapolis 500 had been denied. By George.That's why it was so surreal to see the pair of them sitting elbow-to-elbow in the Economaki Press Room at IMS on Tuesday morning, George in a designer suit and Tracy in a Vision Racing polo shirt."A lot of water has passed under that bridge for me," Tracy said. "I was over it the next week, winning at Milwaukee, and a lot of time has passed since then. I've been able to win a championship and do a lot of other great things in my career. And now the series is one."With that merger, there's been some people that have been left to the side. I don't want to speak for Tony, but I think it's his intention that he wants to have the best of both sides competing. I just had to wait for the opportunity for that to happen."
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillPaul Tracy is gearing up for his '08 IndyCar Series debut July 26 at Edmonton.
This is not a perfect scenario by any means. But it is a great opportunity to get Walker Racing and Paul Tracy a part of the 2008 season. ...
-- Tony George
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