In the wake of Paul Tracy’s non-participation at both the Honda Indy Toronto and the Edmonton Indy, it’s good news that the “Thrill from West Hill” hasn’t gone completely off of the racing radar.
In fact, Tracy will be a big part of the so-called Super Weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that starts on Friday with the Grand-Am Rolex Series Brickyard Grand Prix and ends Sunday with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400.
Tracy will be driving the No. 77 Doran Racing Daytona Prototype Ford, the same car in which he finished seventh overall at the Rolex 24 at Daytona this season.
Tracy’s history at the world’s most famous oval is, of course, checkered to say the least.
His second-place finish in the 2002 Indianapolis 500 behind Helio Castroneves has been the subject of debate every since then-Indy Racing League boss Tony George stripped him of the win for allegedly passing the Brazilian under yellow on the final lap.
Tracy says that episode is now history, but when pushed he still contends that he was the winner on that day.
“Whether I won or got second place, it was still a great achievement,’’ he said.
Tracy, however, no matter what he says publicly would love to win at the famed Yard of Bricks, regardless of the series.
And he thinks Friday’s race will be something special, especially with a star-studded grid, including nine-time Grand-Am champion Scott Pruett.
Tracy will also will face off against his old Champ Car World Series rival Sebastien Bourdais, current NASCAR driver and former Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and his Sprint Cup teammate Jamie McMurray.
Montoya and McMurray will be in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 02 Chevron DP BMW Riley while Bourdais will be driving the Starworks Racing No. 8 DP Ford Riley.
“Obviously with Juan, Jamie and Scott — who is the poster boy of Grand-Am and sports car racing because he’s so competitive — it’s going to be a great event and I’m excited to get going,’’ Tracy said.
The 43-year-old native of Scarborough, said his future is now in sports car racing and he is looking forward to being part of Grand-Am history, in that it will be the first North American sports car series to race on the IMS road course that was designed for Formula One.
“To be involved in Grand-Am and the first North American-based sports car series to run on the road-course track that was purpose-built for Formula One ... it’s a real feather in the cap not only for Grand-Am and all of endurance racing but for all the drivers who have a chance to go there,’’ he said.
Not that it was a secret but Sports Illustrated has put out a list the highest paid American athletes and Dale Earnhardt Jr. came out as easily NASCAR’s highest-paid driver and the eighth highest-earning professional in sports. According to Sports Illustrated, Earnhardt was paid $28,164,690 US in 2011 — $4,164,690 in salary and earnings, and $24 million in endorsements ... Furniture Row Racing announced yesterday that Todd Berrier has been named crew chief for the team’s No. 78 Chevrolet driven by Regan Smith. Berrier, who replaces Pete Rondeau, will take over the crew chief duties immediately. His first race on the pit box will be Sunday’s Brickyard 400 ... A post-race tech failure by the No. 45Flying Lizard Porsche at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park has resulted in that team’s win by Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long being taken away in the GTS class. On Tuesday, the team issued a statement saying the air cleaner on the car had been improperly fitted. This caused the device to flex during the race and the seal to eventually fail. This is very likely what caused us to fail the stall test. The GTS class win now will be credited to the Tequila Patron team of Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek.
KENNINGTON STRETCHES NCTS LEAD
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series passed the halfway point in the 2012 season with the Edmonton 100 at the Edmonton Indy on Sunday and D.J. Kennington is on the verge of running away with the championship.
Kennington won for the fourth consecutive race upping his lead to a commanding 35 points over defending series champion Scott Steckly.
A win Wednesday at the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon will make it almost impossible for the No. 17 Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors/Northern Provincial Pipeline Dodge team to be caught.
The Edmonton win marked the 15th time Kennington, a native of St. Thomas, Ont., has taken first pace in the NCTS loop.
He admitted he was lucky after Steckly, who was leading the race in Edmonton, and J.R. Fitzpatrick wrecked in front of him.
“I can’t believe we came through the incident with the No. 84 and the No. 22,” Kennington said. “This is just so unbelievable to be on this kind of a roll. Four in a row, amazing.”
In order for Steckly to catch the No. 17 Dodge he is going to have get his own No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge in Victory Lane starting at Saskatoon.
“That (Kennington) car has something figured out this year and we haven’t found it yet,” Steckly said. “That’s how this sport goes, though. Someone finds something and we all chase it for a while. Then, we move on to the next thing.”
ALLMENDINGER DRUG TEST RESULT EXPECTED SOON
The results from the “B” sample of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger’s urine test should be known late Wednesday.
If the driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge fails the test for the second time, his career as a NASCAR driver would certainly be over.
The team has already confirmed that Sam Hornish Jr. would replace Allmendinger at the Brickyard 400 if the “B” sample also test positive.
Although there has been no confirmation what drug was found in the “A” sample, Allmendinger, 30, has said it was a stimulant, which includes a wide range of drugs under NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy.
Allmendinger was 23rd in the Cup standings when he was suspended.
For the past two Formula One world seasons, Fernando Alonso has stood by and watched as the racing world anointed Sebastian Vettel as the “next one” in open wheel racing’s top loop.
But Alonso never doubted his own abilities and always pointed to his own two championships as proof he had to be considered as a contender for seven-time champion Michael Schumacher’s mantle.
This season the Spanish driver has leapt to the front of that line and did so with an exclamation mark on Sunday at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
Alonso led from start to finish under constant attack from McLaren’s Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Vettel.
And he did it in a Ferrari F2012 that was not the fastest car on the course, as he has done all season.
Even Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali admitted afterwards that it was Alonso’s brilliant driving that has put the team on top of the world championship.
“Considering that the race was 67 qualifying laps, it shows that Fernando is at the peak of his performance,” Domenicali said. “He is in a great moment, and we will try to keep this momentum for as long as possible.
“It’s true, I believe that we still do not have the fastest car.”
Yes, but they have the fastest driver.