Another heartbreak for Tracy

Paul Tracy's wrecked car is taken through the pits on a hoist after the hometown favourite crashed...

Paul Tracy's wrecked car is taken through the pits on a hoist after the hometown favourite crashed with 20 laps to go. (Jack Boland/SUN MEDIA)

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:42 PM ET

As Yogi Berra would say: It was a case of deja vu all over again for Paul Tracy at the Honda Indy Toronto yesterday.

Headed for, at the very least, a podium finish on his home track after an absence of two years, the Thrill from West Hill collided with old nemesis Helio Castroneves on Lap 66 of 85 on the Exhibition Place temporary street course.

His cruise to the front ended right there.

You could hear the air go out of the collective lungs of the clearly pro-Tracy crowd which still remembers when Castroneves was awarded the 2002 Indianapolis 500 win over Tracy on a technicality (passing under a yellow flag).

But yesterday Tracy was strangely subdued in the aftermath of his latest clash with the Brazilian driver.

"He was trying to keep off the wall, I was trying to keep off the wall," Tracy said of the crash. "We got into the turn, and I thought he gave me enough room. We just touched wheels and we kind of just locked up and that was it."

With a little prodding, however, Tracy did say that the wreck was clearly Castroneves' fault.

"He left the inside wide open," Tracy said. "He wasn't going to make to the end on fuel, he was saving fuel and I was on full rich (running wide open). I could see that he was lifting (off the accelerator). But it was just one of those things. It is a slippery corner."

While Tracy was accepting cheers from the hometown fans, Castroneves came in for a much different kind of greeting when he came back to his pit road pit stall.

A chorus of boos rained down on the Dancing With the Stars winner who told a television interviewer that the crash was just an accident.

"(Tracy) would be the last guy I would have taken out here in Canada," Castroneves said. "What happened is his car touched me, and I just lost control. I would never do anything like that, especially for this guy in Canada.

"You can hear those boos. I still love Canada, don't get me wrong. It's the way it is. People hate, people love you."

For a 40-year-old Tracy, the result surely must have been heartbreaking, in spite of his brave face. He had counted on a good finish in Toronto not just because of his home-boy status but because it would make it easier to garner enough sponsorship to enter more events this year and possibly launch a full-time deal for 2010.

"The end result is that my feeling in my heart is that I was able to show everyone what I could do as a race driver," Tracy said. "And that's what makes me feel good.

"It was good to be back. But it wasn't the end result we wanted for sure."

Life --and racing -- will go on however for Tracy who said he'll put yesterday behind him and head to the Rexall Edmonton Indy in two weeks.

"(Yesterday) doesn't register on the same scale of disappointment as Indy in 2002 but I thought I had a real shot at finishing on the podium," he said.

"The points and stuff don't matter because I was always going for the win."

Tracy, who started 15th and battling for second at the time of the crash, was scored 19th at the race end.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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