July 9, 2008
Will Paul get the call?Conflicting reports have popular Canadian driver catching a ride for Rexall Edmonton Indy
By TERRY JONES -- Sun Media
Clear the track, P.T. is back?
Not so fast. Paul Tracy doesn't want to finish last.
Sun Media has learned that rooms for Tracy and the entire Derrick Walker Racing team were booked for the week of the Rexall Edmonton Indy at a local host hotel yesterday.
Sun Media has also learned that a deal has been worked out with a major Canadian fast food sponsor for the car for the Edmonton race. Earlier in the day Walker said it was 80% that the Canadian driving icon would be here driving a car provided by Indy boss Tony George.
Tracy's adviser, Nick Challis, however, told Sun Media yesterday he has advised Canada's highest-profile Indy car driver to turn down the deal.
"I know what's going on behind the scenes," said Challis of efforts to get Tracy into the only race in the new IndyCar Series in Canada.
'NOT IN BEST INTERESTS'
"There's no way Paul could have a competitive car out of this deal. My advice to Paul is not to do it.
"I don't see any way he could have the testing or the competitive car given the amount of time they have. I know they'd love to have him there but I don't see the point in sending Paul around the track to embarrass himself. I don't think that's in Paul's best interests."
Returning a call while attending a dinner engagement in Las Vegas last night Tracy said he doesn't have a clue of how this will work out and time is running out.
"I've been busy packing to fly to England," said Tracy, who will be spending the week at a festival of speed classic car event on the other side of the Atlantic.
That he's been booked into the hotel here, he said, "is news to me."
He said he's "a passenger riding along on a train".
He said, "Derrick wanted to do a deal but I thought he was out."
"He said he talked to George yesterday. He's trying to put everybody together. I told Tony what I need. He told me to let him work on it. I don't have any answers."
Tracy did say that he'd have a hard time believing he could be competitive.
"I'm a good driver but I'm not a miracle man. It's taken the Champ Car transition teams weeks and weeks to get up to speed in the new cars. To do it in a couple of days with an entirely new crew and driver certainly wouldn't be easy."
Tracy has been without a ride this year with the merger of Champ Car and Indy Racing League as a result of the withdrawal of the Forsythe Racing Team he was contracted to drive for over the past several seasons.
Walker told The Canadian Press yesterday the deal he's beenbrokering is close to being done.
"We're just down to the wire here and getting things locked down," Walker told the wire service. "We're through the worst. It's just getting the details down and everybody agreeing and off we go."
Walker has been working on getting a car from Vision Racing's Tony George, who also happens to be owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the series. A.J. Foyt IV and Ed Carpenter drive the two cars George himself is already running in the series.
Walker told the wire service he pegged the chances at 80%. He also said, "Paul has never been an issue. Paul has said 'Let's Go' from the get-go. 'I'd love to do it.' I don't see any major issues and it's never done until it's done but I think the likelihood is very, very strong."
Tracy's adviser suggests that's very, very wrong.
ONE RACE THIS YEAR
Tracy, 39, is the all-time Champ Car Series winner with 31 victories. The driver who is as well known for his motor mouth as he motor racing, competed in all three Edmonton Grand Prix Champ Car Series races.
His only race this year was the Champ Car finale, which counted for IndyCar Series points, in Long Beach. He was 11th.
Nicknamed 'The Thrill From West Hill', Tracy would cure a decided lack of Canadian content for the Edmonton race in the new series.
The only Canadian driver who runs the series isabout-to-turn 50-year-old Torontonian Marty Roth who is generally considered an embarrassment. Roth has finished 21st, 26th, 17th, 26th, 32nd, 26th, 22nd, 20th, 19th and didn't drive in the last event. He's 25th in the series standings. Paul Tracy should be able to beat him driving the pace car.