Without a Trace? Driver's career at crossroads

MIKE HARRIS

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Paul Tracy is back on track for this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He just doesn't know what's next.

Tracy was left in a kind of limbo when car owner Gerald Forsythe, who had the former CART/Champ Car champion under a long-term contract, decided his team would not make the transition to the IRL IndyCar Series as part of the recent unification of American open-wheel racing.

After difficult and sometimes bitter negotiations, Tracy and Forsythe came to an agreement this week that put the driver back in a car for tomorrow's final Champ Car race and also releases him to look for other rides after this event.

"It feels good to be back in a car," said Tracy, who was eighth in provisional qualifying yesterday on the downtown street circuit.

"Today didn't go as well as I wanted it to, mostly on me. I made a lot of mistakes in qualifying and just couldn't put the lap together.

"And, when I did, I made a huge mistake in the second to last corner and lost all the time I had gained.

"I'm a little bit frustrated, but it's been nice to be back in the car. It's kind of mixed emotions, though. I don't know where my career is going to be from here."

The 39-year-old Toronto native said his negotiations with Forsythe, which kept him from seeking another ride, felt like "a big cobweb."

"It was in the hands of lawyers. When lawyers get involved, it's usually a mess, Tracy said.

"From here out, after this race, there will be no contract between Forsythe and myself, which is disappointing. It was my intention this year to go racing for Forsythe and I think everybody in both series would have liked to have seen that happen.

"But that's his decision, that's his right to do that. I've had a great career with him and won his only championship (in 2003). We have some more issues to work out of how we end the contract and what is still left to figure out."

Tracy is concerned his career could be over because of his late start in trying to find a new ride, although he remains hopeful that something will work out for next month's Indianapolis 500.

"That's been the frustrating part that I've wanted to go racing so bad this year," Tracy said. "It's kind of put me in a situation where now there's nothing available."


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