Getting back in harness now, after a
rejuvenating week at the beach. Just hours away from heading west to one of the
best Champ Car venues in the land, Denver, for the third renewal of the Centrix
Financial GP. Plenty to consider for Champ Car as the seasonís 9th round unfolds
in the Rockies, what with rumblings of the 2006 schedule due, and indications
that more growth for Champ Car is in the offing.
But there surely will be a lot of questions asked of Paul Tracy, whoís just
wrapped up two days of NASCAR Cup testing at Michigan for Richard Childress
Racing. PT, currently second in Champ Car points, has long wanted to try his
considerable talents behind the wheel of a NASCAR stock car.
The owner known as RC
has long liked the idea of trying drivers from different disciplines
in his equipment. Recall too that Childress has had some involvement
in Indy 500 entries over the last several years, and add in the fact
that Richard knew Dale Earnhardt long wanted to strap on a Champ Car
or Indy Car, just to see what itís like. With these factors key,
itís no surprise that Tracy would find a willing Cup team in Richard
Childress Racing as he seeks new challenges.
Iím not among those who believe Tracy is heading South permanently.
While Childress canít be pleased with the performance of any of his
Cup squads, heís not likely to blame his drivers at this point. And
RC knows that taking on a 37-year old NASCAR rookie, even one as
accomplished as Tracy, would put one of his teams behind the 8-ball
going into 2006.
Plus I believe Paul
knows heís the dominant driving force in Champ Car. Sebastien
Bourdais is the points leader, the favorite to repeat his í04 title,
and a world-class talent. But it appears to me that even Bourdais
knows PT is the one driver everyone on the grid has to account for
each week to have a chance to win. In a paddock full of confident
drivers, Tracy has the best swagger in the house. Heís the Sheriff,
and everyone else is wary of Paulís firepower. I doubt PT would give
Thereís also the fact that Champ Car is a series definitely on the
front end of racingís power curve as we head into the final stretch
of the season. Bourdais returned Champ Car to the IROC win column
this season, and thereís no reason to think Tracy wonít get a
nomination to drive in IROC in 2006.
Heís now raced the Rolex
24 and should have that opportunity again as well. Iíd love to see
Paul in the Cup road course events, schedule permitting, and perhaps
a sponsor could be found to back PT in a 5-8 race NASCAR slate on
non-conflicting weekends. That would add tremendous spice to Cup
racing and would further raise Champ Carís stature in the
I suspect Tracy will be fast at Michigan in two weeks and may well
be able to make the show there, at a place where he holds the
all-time qualifying mark of nearly 235 mph. An outsider winning a
NASCAR event would be the longest of long shots, but PTís presence
in the GFS Marketplace 400 lineup would give the event quite a
boostÖand would help spread the word that Champ Car racing is again
a top-shelf product.
Iím hoping RCR will
saddle up a strong horse for the ďThrill from West HillĒ. It should
be fun to watch.
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