No slowing down Tracy

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

The question today is: Should Paul Tracy dial down his aggressive driving style in order to get and keep a full time job in IndyCar Racing?

After all, wrecking one of those $1.6 million US Dallaras with a risky passing move in these uncertain economic times is sure to earn the ire of a team owner who has to foot the bill for repairs.

Yet there was Tracy this week being welcomed aboard KV Racing Technology for three Indy Racing League events -- the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, Honda Toronto Indy and the Rexall Edmonton Indy -- saying he has no intention of riding around the track in the middle of the pack.

"I'm not here to points race," Tracy told Sun Media. "I'm here to get the best finish I can. And if that means pushing someone out of the way in the final five laps or so to gain a position, that's what I'm going to do."

Such an attitude is what ingratiates Tracy to the legions of fans who have loved nothing more over the past 18 racing seasons than watching the Toronto native put the chrome horn to competitors and teammates alike in his take-no-prisoners approach to winning.

His fellow drivers will admit -- in unguarded moments -- envy and respect for Tracy's style.

On the KVRT squad his teammate during this year's Indianapolis 500 -- Townsend Bell -- even coined a new version of an old nickname for Tracy calling him the Thrilla from West Hilla to better reflect his bare-knuckle driving.

If all of this upsets team co-owner Jimmy Vasser, he wasn't showing it upon introducing Tracy and the team's Canadian sponsors -- Honda dealers in association with WoundedWarriors.ca -- to the media.

"In the final five laps of a race with a chance to win there is nobody out there that I'd rather have in one of our cars that P.T.," Vasser said. "I actually wish I had more of the attitude that he has, I might have won more races."

So love him or hate him, Paul Tracy will thrill and thrilla fans in Toronto and Edmonton this season. And Vasser has stated flat out that if the No.15 team does well in its three-race run it could mean a full-time deal for the 40-year-old Tracy.

"I still feel like a warrior," Tracy said at the prospect of an extended race deal. "I think I've got at least two more seasons at the top in these old bones."

Numbers game

The IRL is counting on having a big field -- hopefully 22-24 cars -- on the grid for both the Honda Indy Toronto and the Rexall Edmonton Indy. That would be an improvement over last week's 20-car count at Iowa where no-shows included Alex Tagliani, Milka Duno and Sarah Fisher.

IRL race boss Brian Barnhart said this week that he expects several teams to step up for the two Canadian dates.

"There's the third car at Dreyer & Reinbold, talk of (Penske bringing back Will Power's) car ... at five or six races, Sarah Fisher coming back for three or four more, Townsend Bell doing three or four more, even Scott Sharp doing two or three more," Barnhart said.

The addition of Tracy and Tagliani in the Conquest Racing Dallara will increase the field even more.

NASCAR woes

After Chrysler and General Motors announced an end to corporate support for the NASCAR Camping World Truck series and the Nationwide series this season, it left only Ford and Toyota that were pumping money into those two touring events.

Now there are hints that Toyota also might cut back its sponsorships in the second- and third-tier series.

"Toyota and TRD have been in the process for over a year, of adapting our series support for the Truck/Nationwide programs to be appropriate to the value of each series," Toyota racing boss Lee White said at Infineon Raceway this past week. "Our process in the future will not be determined by other manufacturer's actions but by the value delivered by each series. At this point there is no plan to change our involvement for the remainder of this season. As always, we will re-evaluate each series over the winter and could make appropriate adjustments."

On the Sprint Cup side, GM's bankruptcy filing opened the window into just how much financial support the manufacturers give their top teams.

Richard Childress Racing, for example, in its filing under GM's Chapter 11 deal showed it was owed a quarterly payment of $2.5 million US from the car maker.

Extrapolate that over a season and it puts GM's contribution to RCR at $10 million -- a whopping big pile of dough.

One would suspect an equal commitment goes to Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart Haas Racing and to a lesser extent Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.


Videos

Photos