Tracy hitches ride for Canuck races

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

The Honda Indy Toronto got the big lift it was looking for yesterday when it was announced that hometown boy Paul Tracy will race in the event for KV Racing Technology on July 12.

As first reported by Sun Media a week ago, Tracy was close to a deal that would put the 2003 Champ Car World Series winner in both the Toronto event and the Rexall Edmonton Indy race on July 26 in the No. 15 KVRT Dallara.

Tracy has qualified the car for Sunday's Indianapolis 500, where he will start on the fifth row, 13th overall. It is believed that Tracy's qualifying effort at Indy was the impetus behind finding sponsorship for the Canadian portion of the Indy Racing League schedule this season.

While no official release has come from either Tracy or the team, Sun Media has learned that it is a major Canadian-based company that is providing the cash.

In a phone interview from Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday Tracy said that the sponsorship -- that will be officially announced the week following the Indy 500 -- came together after lengthy talks.

"We've been working really hard to get this deal," he said. "You know I'm not a big go-get-a-sponsor guy; I'm a driver. But in this economy, the wheels don't turn without sponsorship and I think that my performance this month (during qualifying for lndy), moved the process along."

It didn't hurt that Tracy is the centre of media attention at the Brickyard with his first appearance since the controversy that saw him lose the 2002 race to Helio Castroneves when it was ruled he passed the Brazilian on the final lap under a yellow flag.

"I'll tell you (my American sponsor) GEICO likes that this is happening," Tracy said. "They are bringing their caveman (mock commercial spokesman) guy to be in the pits with us on Sunday."

But he admitted there might have been questions about his ability after a layoff of more than a year.

"Once I got on the track I showed what I could do," Tracy said. "We are positioned really well with mostly only the big three (Penske, Ganassi and Andretti-Green) guys in front of us. I believe I can win (Sunday) or I wouldn't be here."

He also believes that good results in Toronto and Edmonton will lead to a full time ride for the rest of the 2009 season and hopefully all of 2010.

The Honda Toronto Indy race on the temporary street course at Exhibition Place will mark Tracy's 17th appearance at his home track, where he has two wins, five podiums and 11 top-10 finishes. He has also appeared at every Edmonton race since its inception in 2006, finishing fourth there in 2008 in his lone IRL stop of the season.


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