Tracy to replace Meira at Milwaukee
Like politics, racing has been known to make strange bedfellows. Two outspoken stars of the sport have joined forces for the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225 at Milwaukee this weekend. A.J. Foyt has hired veteran driver Paul Tracy to replace injured Vitor Meira to drive the No. 14 ABC Supply Indy car. It is Tracy’s first time driving for Foyt; at this point, it is a one race deal.
“For me I’m excited to get an opportunity to drive albeit as a fill-in for Vitor as I know it’s a short-term thing,” said Tracy, who has won 31 Indy car races as well as the 2003 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Driver’s title. “When I started my career , I competed against A.J. He was one of my idols growing up. I haven’t told too many people this, but he was one of the guys I modeled myself after. I’m a little rough around the edges like him and I say what I feel, there’s no b.s. and that’s one of the things I’ve always admired about him.”
Foyt said, “Paul Tracy is a hard charger and our type of driver, much like Vitor. I believe we can put the right equipment under Paul, and we’ve both had success there, so I think we can put our heads together and have a good race. It’s a very important race for us because it’s sponsored by our team sponsor ABC Supply, which is based in Wisconsin, so Milwaukee is their home track,” adding, “and it is the AJ Foyt 225.”
“I think the team is competing at a much higher level these days,” said Tracy. “I had a long conversation with Larry [Foyt, team director] and they’re working hard. That’s all I expect from people is to do their best. I think I’m the kind of driver who could make the difference at Milwaukee, being a four-time winner there, and teaming up with A.J., a guy who’s won as many times as he has at the historic Mile, is not only a great story but a winning recipe.”
Foyt has won four Indy car races at the Mile, and six USAC stock car races.
When asked about the challenge of driving for a new team in a car he’s never driven at the Mile where there is only two hours of practice before qualifying, Tracy said with a smile, “There’s no challenge for me, I’m a grizzly old veteran like A.J., I’ll be up to speed real quick.” He added, “I jumped in the car at Indianapolis and I hadn’t driven at Indy in seven years and never drove a Dallara on the speedway-the current car-- and did 220mph on my third lap. I don’t anticipate any trouble getting up to speed because I spent the last month in the car. If the team can deliver me a good car, I think I can win the race for them.”
Tracy’s stats at the Mile lend credence to his confident approach. In 14 starts (from 1993-2006), he has led nine races for 723 laps and earned four wins (Newman-Haas, 1995; Team Green, 1999, 2002; Forsythe, 2005), two poles (Penske, 1996, 1997); two more top-five finishes plus two top-10 finishes.
The driver change came as a result of Vitor Meira sustaining a lower back injury in the Indianapolis 500 after rookie Raphael Matos made contact with Meira entering turn one, sending the Indy veteran hard into the turn one SAFER barrier which he rode on two wheels until coming to a stop in the short chute. Meira was transported to Methodist Hospital where scans revealed two broken vertebrae (L-1 and L-2) which are being treated without surgery. Meira was fitted with a plastic back brace and is expected to be discharged from the hospital Wednesday, May 27. While doctors told Meira that he will be ready to race again in four months, Meira is aiming to be back in the cockpit after three months.