Long Beach could be last IndyCar race for Tracy
It all started right here at Long Beach 18 years ago for Paul Tracy when he started his Champ Car career driving for Dale Coyne. Two years after that he won his first Champ Car race here as well and since has won it three additional times. Tracy has accomplished a lot during his career as a Champ Car driver - he has 31 victories, 74 podiums and 25 poles in 261 starts prior to this weekend.
|Paul Tracy in his familiar No. 3 on Friday|
But as is the case with many Champ Car drivers, he does not have ride in the unified Indy Racing League, which in late February absorbed Champ Car.
Sunday's main event at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is therefore the Champ Car swan song and it may also be Tracy's swan song because his Forsythe Pettit Racing team is not transitioning over to the IndyCar circuit and both sides are working to terminate their contract.
Tracy did not even know if he was going to race here until the past couple of days as he and his team hammered out negotiations for this event. So the fact that Tracy is a bit rusty is understandable.
"It feels good to be back in the car, obviously, qualifying," Tracy said. "Today didn't go as well as we wanted it to. It was basically mostly on me. I made a lot of mistakes in qualifying, just couldn't put the lap together.
"And then when I did on the last lap, I made a huge mistake in the second-to-last corner and I lost all the time we had.
"Ifs and buts, we should have been about third quickest instead of eighth. So I'm a little bit frustrated. But it's nice to be back in the car and kind of mixed emotions. I don't know where my career is leading me from here."
Tracy was sentimental in front of a large group of assembled reporters at Long Beach on Friday. He said his first Champ Car race was here in 1991, and his first victory was here in 1993.
"You know, I don't know how I'm going to feel after the race," Tracy said. "I guess it could be my last race here as an open-wheel driver. I want to go racing. This isn't really how I want my career to end. I've had the support and the well-wishes of a lot of you guys in the room here.
"I've talked to a lot of you guys on the phone, and I really just woke up one day about two weeks before the season was to start for the (IndyCar Series) and I realized I'm not going to have a ride; I'm going to be sitting for a year."
"I guess it could be my last race here as an open wheel driver," Tracy admitted.
"I want to go racing. This isn't really how I want my career to end. From here, I don't know what I'm going to do. I'd like to go to race for somebody, but there's nothing out there.
"I feel having missed a bunch of time last year with my back injury, and if I miss the whole of this year, it's probably unlikely that I'll be able to drive an IndyCar again. Just too much time out of the car."