Q&A with Paul Tracy
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Paul Tracy participated in a Q&A session today to discuss his return to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's #24 car and his return to oval racing this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Below are select quotes from his interview.
Q. Let's talk a little bit about the announcement today. I know when we last saw you at Edmonton you thought maybe your season was done. Talk about getting back into the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team.
PAUL TRACY: Obviously, working with Robbie (Buhl) and Dennis (Reinbold) and the whole team was a great experience for me at Watkins Glen. I felt we had a pretty good weekend and a good result for just jumping into the car last minute.
We've had some ongoing conversations of what their options were going towards the end of the season and where Mike was at with his rehabbing to get back in the car.
You know, an opportunity for both myself and my sponsor, Motegi Racing Wheels, was presented to us from D&R. It really just kind of made sense to keep trying to build the brand of Motegi, get the awareness out there about it, you know, from there, just get an opportunity to get a couple more races in.
Q. You have never been to Kentucky Speedway. What have you heard about that track? How long do you think it will take you to get up to speed?
PAUL TRACY: You know, the rules have changed a little bit over the last year. Looked like last year's race was a little bit more spread out than, say, Chicagoland was this weekend. You know, from what I saw from Saturday night, it was pretty wild racing, a lot of wheel-to-wheel, a lot of action, a lot of really close racing, a lot of tactician stuff going on where you've just got to make the right move at the right time and have a partner to do it with. Whether that happens at Kentucky, a little bit more of a bumpy track from what hear, has a little bit less banking, we'll see on Saturday night. But I'm expecting a barn burner.
Q. Were you intimidated by some of the driving you saw going on at Chicago? Were you encouraged by Justin getting a seventh-place finish?
PAUL TRACY: I am obviously. You look at the qualifying order, where cars qualify, and it really doesn't give you an indication. Obviously, Penske and Ganassi always seem to be towards the sharp end of the grid on those type of tracks.
But from the standpoint of watching and analyzing the race, seeing that even when the Penske and Ganassi cars, when they got back in the middle of the field, you know, they weren't really as strong as they were when they were at the front end of the field.
It's encouraging when you see teams like D&R, much smaller operation than a Penske or Ganassi, who come from the back and race their way to the front, just watching guys like Tag having a fantastic race, starting way in the back, tiny little operation, handful of guys, work their way right towards the front. It's the type of racing that can be done if you get the car right.
You know, I talked to Justin on the phone. He was encouraged by the end result. You know, they've got a couple of ideas for qualifying. I talked to my engineer, Yves Touron, a couple times at D&R. They have some things they learned from the final practice and the race that they think are going to help the car in qualifying trim. Hopefully we can have Justin and I have good starting positions and race well together and both get solid top-10 finishes.
Q. Paul, how do you think it will affect you in working with different teams on the ovals as opposed to what you would do regarding setup for a road course? Obviously it's going to be a lot colder for you to come in, especially on a specific track like Kentucky, where some of the other teams might have a marked advantage.
PAUL TRACY: I've just got to do what I can do. Obviously, I've talked to the team. They said, 'Our cars are pretty solid. We don't do anything that's way outside of the box. Mile-and-a-half cars when you're out there qualifying, running, not too difficult.' There's quite a bit of banking at Kentucky. The cars are fairly stable with the bigger wings on them.
In the race, if it's like Chicagoland, for sure the first third of the race, because I haven't done that style of racing in a while, it's going to take me a little bit to get my feet back under me and get used to whatever situation you have to get into. But as the race progresses, you know, hopefully we'll be running towards the front.
My goal is, are we going to come there and win the race? It's a pretty lofty goal. But I think a realistic expectation is to finish in the top 10. If things go really well, have a good, solid finish like Justin had, maybe even a top five or six.
Q. Paul, this is not your first time with D&R. At Watkins Glen, after the first day, you seemed to click pretty well with the team. Is there anything specific you can count to and say why you seem to click pretty fast with them?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think just the general atmosphere of the team is pretty calm, which I like. You know, I've known Robbie for a long, long time. We raced against each other in the '80s. So, you know, we've known each other for a long time. We have mutual friends that we've known each other for many, many years.
You know, working with Justin, obviously I get along well with Justin. I've never got into a problem with him on the racetrack. From that standpoint, you know, right away our feedback was very similar to the engineers. Really just the weekend went pretty nice.
It was a pretty nice atmosphere to be in. Great working with Honda on that race, Motegi. For that race there, for Motegi, we've been able to build this program.
Hopefully we can, you know, have a good couple of races here and then build on our program for next year.