Making hay at Indy

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Unless something completely unforeseen happens at this year's Indianapolis 500, it now appears two Canadian drivers -- Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani -- will come away from the Brickyard with enough sponsorship money to race at both the Honda Toronto Indy and the Rexall Edmonton Grand Prix this season.

While Tagliani already has laid the ground work to run both Canadian dates on the Indy Racing League calendar with the financial backing of the Edmonton race promoters and other corporate partners such as Sun Media's autonet.ca, it wasn't until this week that Tracy looked like a lock to run at his home race on July 12 in Toronto.

A source close to negotiations between the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion and several sponsors confirmed that Tracy is all but certain to have a deal in place by the time he leaves Indianapolis after the Indy 500 on May 24.

"I would be more surprised to hear that (Tracy) doesn't have a deal already done," the source said. "The last I heard it was real close. He wants to run both Toronto and Edmonton."

There is more at stake than just those two events for the 40-year-old Toronto native. A good showing at Indy, coupled with equally good performances at Toronto and Edmonton would go a long way to getting him back into an Indy car full time for the rest of this season and probably 2010.

Tracy raced towards that goal this past week when he launched his KV Technology Racing Honda-powered Dallara to a blistering 223.111 m.p.h. lap on the second day of qualifying for Indy.

He had already made the grid with a 17th place lap of 222.7, but chose to throw that result out -- risking his grid position in the hopes he could go faster.

And he did.

It was good enough to guarantee him a spot on the fourth row for the U.S. Memorial weekend classic. But in typical Tracy fashion, he still wasn't near satisfied.

"I'm not really happy with the laps we qualified on, so I'm disappointed," the Thrill from West Hill said. "But we're just out of miles and need to get some full-tank running in.

"We wanted to be in the 223s; we achieved that on the first lap, then (I) started sliding the front tire with a tail wind in Turn 1, and then it kind of fell off. The last couple of laps I just couldn't get the speed out of it."

Tracy is now left to spend the time before Jim Nabors bellows out Back Home Again in Indiana figuring out the right strategy for the world's most famous open-wheel oval race.

"It's a long race, and we've got an OK starting position," he said. "We're starting in mid-pack, and we'll go from there. A lot of things can happen in a 500-mile race.

"It's three times longer than any other race in the series, and a lap can change over the course of the race. You work on that car until the end of the race to get it competitive."

Carpentier still in mix

Montreal's Patrick Carpentier helped his chances to get back into a regular ride in NASCAR with a Top 20 finish in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway in the No. 7 SK Motorsports Toyota after he was asked to take over from David Green.

Carpentier has a deal in place to run the NAPA 200 at Montreal in August for Michael Waltrip Racing, but he is on the hunt for a more permanent ride.

"We're talking, we're pushing," Carpentier told SceneDaily.com. "And we're talking to a couple more teams. We'll see, but just being in a car (at Darlington) always helps."

Ferrari threatens to quit

Ferrari's board of directors announced this week that unless the FIA -- Formula One's ruling body -- drops plans to institute a spending cap of $60 million US on teams, the famed Italian auto maker will quit the series.

Ferrari believes that existing rules are good enough to keep costs in check.

"If these indispensable principles are not respected and if the (proposed) regulations adopted for 2010 will not change, then Ferrari does not intend to enter its cars in the next Formula One world championship," the company said in a statement.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has had a running feud with FIA boss Max Mosley since the changes were announced last season.

Mosley said earlier this year that if Ferrari quits F-1 the series would survive, even though the Italian squad is the most popular in the world and is the only team to have competed in every championship since 1950.

Quote of the week

"I'm in my second childhood right now. My crew chief Alan (Gustafson) says that I was one of his childhood heroes. Well, the tables are turned now. He's mine." -- Mark Martin, 50, after winning Southern 500 in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Canadian corner

Joe Plazek, a former dirt track driver from Caister Centre, Ont., has been inducted into the U.S. Modified Hall of Fame.

The 48-year-old Plazek started dirt racing in the Sportsman Modified division in 1982 at racetracks in New York and Ohio before moving up to the big-block, 700-horsepower Modifieds.

Nicknamed "Joe the Jet," Plazek's greatest success came against American racing stars such as NASCAR's Dave Blaney (The Buckeye Bullet) at the New York State Fair Labour Day Classic -- the Modified racing equivalent of the Daytona 500. Plazek won the event three consecutive years, 1995-97.


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