Tracy to run Michigan

UPDATE #5 Open wheel star Paul Tracy will test August 8-9 at Michigan International Speedway in Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) No. 33 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Chevrolet in preparation for the Aug. 21 GFS Marketplace 400.

The Ontario, Canada native is the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion and has 30 victories, ranking him first among the series’ active drivers and third all-time. Tracy is currently second in the 2005 point standings with two victories (Milwaukee, June 4; Cleveland, June 26), six top-five finishes and two pole positions after eight of 14 races. He finished second in the July 31 Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose (Calif.).

“Paul and I have talked about an opportunity like this for the past couple years and it has finally come together for Michigan," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “I’d like to thank Gerry Forsythe and Forsythe Championship Racing for allowing us the chance to give this a try. This will be Paul’s first shot in a stock car but he obviously has a great deal of talent and knows how to win races and championships. We’ll take a look at how things go after the test and, if all goes according to plan, get him ready for the Cup race the next week."

Tracy is looking forward to testing his driving skills again at the MIS oval. He competed in Champ Cars there 10 times (1992-2001), earning four top-five and seven top-10 finishes and a pole position (2000). The 2000 pole speed set the track qualifying record at 234.949 mph (30.645 seconds).

“I’m very excited about this opportunity especially at Michigan where I have a lot of experience," said Tracy. “Driving a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup car will be totally new to me but my focus is to develop a package that will help Kevin (Harvick), Jeff (Burton) and Dave (Blaney) and their teams for the race weekend. I want to do whatever I can to help."

08/01/05 After nearly two decades as an open wheel racer, Canadian Paul Tracy figures it's time to sit in a race car with fenders. The 2003 Champ Car World Series champion has struck a deal with NASCAR team owner Richard Childress to test a stock car over the next two weeks with the eventual goal of competing in the Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21. Tracy will get behind the wheel of a stock car for the first time in his career on Tuesday at Concord (N.C.) Speedway in an ARCA car prepared by former stock car driver and now driving instructor Andy Hillenburg. Tracy then will head to MIS the day after the Brickyard to test the #33 Chevrolet for Childress. If everything falls into place, Tracy will make an attempt to qualify for the race at MIS, which he'll have to do based on speed. Regardless of the outcome of the next three weeks isn't ready to say he's moving to NASCAR. Tracy's interest in NASCAR dates back to 1999 when a friend showed him an article in a NASCAR publication that quoted Childress as saying he'd like to see Tracy in a stock car. Tracy isn't the first open wheel driver in recent years to dabble in the world of stock cars. Several have unsuccessfully attempted the transition into NASCAR, including past Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser, Scott Pruett, Christian Fittipaldi and most recently Mexican driver Michel Jourdain Jr., who ran in the Busch Series this year. Vasser drove two Busch races for Braun Racing in 2003, a year during which he raced in NASCAR, the Indy 500 and in his regular Champ Car ride. Tracy isn't ready to make any official announcements. "Check back with me in a couple of weeks," he said. "I'm going to drive a car a couple of times. I want to go do the race and then, think about what I want to do." Yahoo!Sports 07/31/05 Tracy will get his first test with Childress Racing on Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. He will then test at Michigan and his first NASCAR race will be in Michigan in August. Mark C. 07/30/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Forsythe Championship Racing has agreed to facilitate Champ Car veteran and 2003 Vanderbilt Cup winner Paul Tracy in an exploratory foray into stock car racing. Tracy will test a Richard Childress-owned stock car prior to possibly participating in a NASCAR event later this year on a weekend that does not conflict with the Champ Car season.

"Jerry Forsythe told me that I have a Champ Car ride with his team for as long as I want" said Tracy. "We have another championship or two still to win here in open wheel, but it's no secret that I've been thinking about the next phase of my racing career."

"Champ Car is the toughest racing there is" continued Tracy, "but stock car and sports car racing are both something that I want to explore. I got a chance to drive in the Daytona 24 hour race earlier in the year and now I'm looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a stock car. I know the Childress team will give me good equipment and I'm eager to see what stock car racing is all about."

"I've got a lot to learn about everything from the car itself to working with all the traffic, but I'm excited that everything has come together. Jerry has been supportive and we're both racers at heart, so he understands my motivation to do this."

Forsythe agrees. "History is going to view Paul as a legendary figure in open wheel racing and we're supportive of his desire to expand his career. Great Champ Car champions of the past like Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt are recognized not just for their great talent but for their ability to drive anything and be competitive."

"Paul has never driven better than he's driving right now" continued Forsythe, "so I believe he has another Vanderbilt Cup or two up his sleeve before we're going to be 100% ready to see him venture off into the next chapter of his career, but it's not hard to understand the scope of his racing ambitions. We know he can show the world what an incredible race car driver he is, not just in the super-competitive world of the Champ Car World Series but in other forms of racing as well. We wish him the best and are happy to support him in this effort."

Canadian Paul Tracy drives the #3 INDECK Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone car as Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Tracy is the current active leader in starts, poles, wins and laps led, and needs just one more lap led to join an elite group of Champ Car legends with more than 4,000 career laps led including Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Bobby Unser.

07/30/05 Tracy has approval from Forsythe to do two tests and run a 2nd race as well. 07/30/05 has learned that Richard Childress Racing will announce possibly today that Paul Tracy will drive for them in the upcoming Michigan race. They are still talking about next year.

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