Tracy eyes chance for Indy glory

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

If Paul Tracy closes his eyes he can still see his No. 26 Team Green Racing Dallara crossing the yard of bricks first at the 2002 Indianapolis 500.

But he doesn't have the big trophy or the $1.6 million US cheque that eventually went to Helio Castroneves that day when officials of the Indy Racing League ruled Tracy had passed the Brazilian after the yellow flag had come out on the track on the final lap.

"I've seen the television footage and I've seen where our cars were positioned on the track," Tracy said yesterday in a teleconference call. "They can measure these things by millimetres, the differences of thousandths of a second. The video (showed) my car 16 feet ahead of Helio with the green light on."

The 40-year-old Toronto native, however, said he isn't bothered by it and looks forward to going back to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend this season for another chance at a win.

Tracy said that his memory is clear and in his mind he's certain that he's already notched one win and a victory this year in a KV Technology Dallara would make it a pair.

"That's in my soul now," he said. "So I have that feeling of winning there, which I think is more important than having a trophy on your shelf. After a while, you never look at it anymore and it just gets tarnished."

And forget about this just being a one-off for one of the most feared and fierce competitors in open wheel racing. Tracy knows better than anyone that a win, or even a top five finish, would go a long way to getting him back in the racing business full time.

"The only reason I want to go there is to try to win" he said. "It's not to go there to qualify and make the field. If we can (win) and generate a lot of media for our sponsor (GEICO), hopefully we can grow this into something bigger and better. Right now the focus is just on Indianapolis. If that goes well enough, then maybe we can get into the races in Canada or maybe more."

Team co-owner Jimmy Vasser has promised Tracy a car that is capable of winning the 500-mile race on May 24.

"The team obviously has fast cars this year," Tracy said. "They were looking for a veteran driver to make their assault on the 500. We all share the same goal, and that's to go there and try to win the race."

At the same time, anyone who has known Tracy for longer than five minutes knows that -- even if he refuses to admit it -- his being cheated out of the win in 2002 will be a prime motivating factor come race day. Not coincidentally, Castroneves, back with Penske Racing, will also be touted as a favourite to win.

Meanwhile, the Honda Toronto Indy announced yesterday that Castroneves will join former Indy 500 winners Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007), Scott Dixon (2008) and hopefully Tracy at this year's event.

Also signed on is open wheel's most visible star, Danica Patrick, and youngsters Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti.


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