|Castroneves with his "I Love Canada" T-shirt|
Helio Castroneves didn't want to hear any residual boos from Paul Tracy fans this weekend during the Rexall Edmonton Indy. So the team Penske driver took a proactive approach – wearing an "I (heart) Canada" T-shirt with Tracy's No. 15 inserted in the maple leaf heart at the circuit.
The reigning Indianapolis 500 champion wasn't the most popular IndyCar Series driver in Toronto two weeks ago when his car got tangled up with Tracy's as they competed for second place late in the race on the Exhibition Place course. Sustained boos – something the effervescent Castroneves isn't used to hearing – rained when he returned to pit lane.
"I will use it most of the weekend," he said. "I admire the fans. They're supporting their people and that's the way it should be."
Both Tracy and Castroneves said the incident was "one of those racing things."
"He's the last person I would want to tangle with," Castroneves laughed. "It's unfortunate because it cost me a lot of points in the championship. That's what people sometimes don't understand. I was just trying to finish the race."
Tracy, who will be driving the Edmonton Honda Dealers/WoundedWarriors.ca entry for KV Racing Technology, agreed.
"I think it cost me a good finish in Canada, but for him it effectively ended his championship run," said Tracy, who finished fourth on the Edmonton City Centre Airport course last year. "To make up that (78-point) difference in last six or seven races is too difficult."
Tracy also represented WoundedWarriors.ca – a nonprofit charity that supports Canadian soldiers wounded overseas – at Toronto. For a donation, spectators can sign Tracy's firesuit. It will be auctioned as a fundraiser.
"I met some of the soldiers in Toronto who had just come back from Afghanistan. They were just so proud to have someone represent them," Tracy said. "Being Canadian and supporting the Canadian troops and bringing awareness is important."
There will be a photo opportunity tomorrow, July 25, at Tracy's pit box at 9:30 a.m. Tracy and Castroneves will be in attendance. Castroneves will sign his "I (heart) Canada" t-shirt and present it to Tracy to be donated to WoundedWarriors.ca.