News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 15, 2011

Tracy to make IndyCar debut; West Terre Haute's Fitzpatrick sixth in USAC sprint standings

Tom Reck
Tribune-Star Correspondent

TERRE HAUTE — Paul Tracy will make his first IZOD IndyCar Series run this week, competing in the Long Beach Grand Prix.

He’ll be driving the No. 8 Dragon Racing car in the event, one that he has won four times.

“I made my first start there for Dale Coyne and got my first win there with Penske Racing,” the veteran driver said this week on a teleconference. He is tied for seventh in IndyCar wins with 31.

Tracy will drive in at least five races for Dragon Racing, headed by Jay Penske, and more if sponsorships can be found. He will drive in the Indianapolis 500 for another team.

He said he is looking forward to working with Penske and experienced members of the crew.

Tracy said he found it difficult to watch the first two races of the season and not be in them. “Long Beach is a great place to start with the success I have had here. I want to build on it,” said the native of Canda.

Commenting on the new double-file restarts, he said they have created “a bit of a buzz” and may be changed this week. He noted that the championship hopes of Ryan Briscoe and Justin Wilson have been hurt by being caught up in restart mishaps.

“You not only need to look forward now but look in the rear-view mirror,” said Tracy.

Ryan Hunter-Reay won at Long Beach a year ago.

Dario Franchitti won the season opener at St. Petersburg and Will Power claimed his 10th career victory by winning at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday.

Officials have announced a change in qualifying procedures for road courses, starting this week. Times from today’s practice sessions will determine qualifying groups with the driver having the fastest time having his choice.

Sunday’s race will be carried live by Versus starting at 3:30 p.m.

• USAC racing set — Three U.S. Auto Club sprint car races are slated this week in Indiana.

The first will be tonight in Gas City, followed by action at Lawrenceburg on Saturday and Kokomo on Sunday.

Fog and rain wiped out the bulk of two days of racing last week in Ohio.

Damion Gardner is the leader in the early sprint point totals, having a 21-point lead over Levi Jones. Blake Fitzpatrick of West Terre Haute is sixth in the totals.