Time for Plan B

CRASH CAMERON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

Alex Tagliani has been around long enough to know the deal in racing: You don't have one until it's sealed. And, even then ...

Moral of story: Have a Plan B.

"The reality was, we were setting up to go race in ChampCar." Tagliani said yesterday. "Then the merger happened between the two series and caused a lot of a little issues with teams and drivers."

And left several drivers looking for rides.

"I tested in Sebring. I was second in the overall tests," said the Montrealer who came up in the old Player's driver development program. "Everything was looking good with PKV (Racing, the ChampCar team that has dropped the P in IndyCar). Then somebody came with more money and took the ride."

BEEN THERE BEFORE

Tagliani has been there before. It happened to him once just as a season was about to start.

Although he was trumped for the KV ride, Tagliani had backing of his own to consider with the Walmart/Tide deal, one that was primarily focused on a Canadian presence.

"The package was divided in two," Tagliani explained. "I was the open-wheel representative, Andrew (Ranger) was the NASCAR representative. And then we found that the most important thing was to get as close as possible to the one program that was existing, and that was NASCAR (Canadian Tire Series), because ChampCar was dying.

"We decided to focus all our energy into NASCAR as the backup plan. We thought we could build on this. With losing Toronto (as a race), I don't think the sponsor felt they were losing too much (by not pursuing an Indy ride)."

The timing may be right, he said.

"At the end of the day, maybe it's not bad to sit out because the transition for the ChampCar teams has been difficult. Obviously they were not up to pace on the ovals. I think it's going to take to the end of the season and through the winter to get the teams back in business, so they can compete on an equal playing field."

Actually, running the full Canadian Tire series is an expansion of what Tagliani had on the table. He ran a car for longtime Ontario stock car driver turned owner Dave Jacombs, who is providing Tagliani with the No. 7 car.

"I talked to Dave last year, actually. I did a one-off in Montreal and I really enjoyed driving the car and he saw that I was having a lot of fun. I said that is definitely a series I would have my eye on in the future. There's so many things I want to do, but I said if there was was one series where I could do still do the Canadian races - especially the road courses - if there was no conflict, it would be that series. "Next year, the way things are, I could end up in Indy, I could end up in ALMS (American LeMans Series), I could end up in (NASCAR) truck, or I could end up in NASCAR Canada."

For now, driving a NASCAR taxicab has been and up-and-down struggle, he said.

"I blew up last weekend in (Vernon, B.C.). I was running 4th with 50 laps to go. We blew up in St. Eustache, and we had a battery issue in Cayuga (Ont.). The other two races that I finished, I was fifth and sixth.

'TOP 5 CAR'

"So when we're on track, on an oval we are a Top 5 car, on a road course we can definitely win.

"Dave is a good guy, he's passionate about racing. He wants to win. He's not going to race just to own cars. It's just tearing him apart inside to see (this). But we're getting there and I'm willing to be patient."


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