Paul Tracy’s Indy 500 blog: May 20. Oh Canada! The Thrill from West Hill is coming home!
So the cat’s out of the bag, and the Crazy Canuck’s back on the grid: I’m confirmed for Toronto and Edmonton. And, don’t forget, Jimmy’s promised me Milwaukee too… so long as I win Indy. Well, that’s what we’re all working toward, and I have to say I think the combination of talents here at KV Racing should make this possible. I’m not an idiot: it’ll be tough. But it can happen, definitely. And I don’t mean like some turd at the back of the field who lucks into it. I think we’re competitive enough to take the fight to Penske, Ganassi and AGR.
I’m also thinking if I win both Indy and Milwaukee , I might start looking pretty indispensable! If that makes us attractive to more sponsors, the whole thing can snowball. This deal we’re putting together for Toronto and Edmonton doesn’t make me full-time again yet (not for the lack of trying) but at least I’m not just a one-off hired gun for the 500. There are more sponsors talking to us now, too: we landed a sponsorship deal with a new tequila brand, but its parent brand is Jose Cuervo which I think is the biggest tequila company in the world. They own Patron, too, so we know they have some real legs.
There was no room for their logo on my car at this race, so there was a little bit of sticky business to deal with, because the man who will carry it, my teammate Mario Moraes, is under 21! But we’re okay on it now, and maybe that will lead to a good opportunity for the future. Certainly they seem to be super happy with how things are going for KV Racing this month. Everything seems real positive. We just have to make sure we have a great race on Sunday,
So when did I last write to you? Hmm, last weekend. Jeez, I’m a bad correspondent. But to be honest, I haven’t done a whole lot except appearances, and autograph sessions. Yesterday I went with Doug Barnette (my agent) to his home town, and that made him happy, and we did an appearance at a park that he grew up near, and we’re gonna donate some money to fix up this park for the kids.
We came back in the afternoon for a Firestone appearance, and we’ve just been working away, keeping busy, keeping training, working on sponsor stuff. I’ve been getting everything absolutely ready: helmets, suits – and myself. I’ve been training hard. I was out on my bike last night, just got done with it today, too. I’m pretty pumped.
What else? Well, we got the publicity trip to New York out of the way on Monday, so we all got the chance to listen to Tagliani making excuses for himself. Zzzzzz… How could he not do a qualifying run in six freakin’ hours?! I mean, come on. Sorry, but I would not take a ride in the circumstances that Alex has. I think he or the team made a huge screw-up not going out, and it’s Bruno who’s paid the price. How does that work?
Obviously, Bruno is a good friend of mine, so I’m taking his side, but I feel very bad for him missing the race. He walked the paddock for two weeks, looking for a deal, landed one at the last second, and got in the field in just a total of 12 laps. He showed exactly what he could do, but got pushed out of the car. I feel extremely bad for him, because he’s been driving for nothing for the last two years, and he’s been given the short end of the stick since he left Newman/Haas/Lanigan at the end of 2006.
While I’m on the case, what about Buddy Rice? I think he was pretty close with getting the Rahal Letterman ride that Oriol Servia’s now got, if Oriol’s money hadn’t shown up. But why is Buddy in this position at all? He’s the winner of this race five years ago, and yet no one would give him a ride this year. That sucks. He’s got the same attitude as me: he’s not going to devalue himself wandering around, helmet in hand, begging for a ride. I respect that. We should leave that role to Roberto Moreno. That’s his territory.
Anyway, back to the racing. The KV cars are ready, they’ve been stripped apart, they’ve done a massive rebuild on my GEICO No. 15 car from the ground up. The team’s done a fantastic job on it. And on Friday, Carb Day, I get to try it out.
That’s the last hour of track time before the race, and I’m gonna run in as much traffic as possible. Obviously we weren’t running last week when everyone else was testing their race setups, so we’ve got to use this session smartly. We don’t want to run too much though, and give ourself a problem later in the race. So we’ll probably run 100-150 miles to put our motor in the sweet spot for the right time. It runs its best between 450 and 600 miles, so we’ll do enough laps on Carb Day to get the engine at its best in the second half of the race.
I’ll get back to you on Friday night or Saturday morning to give my final report before the race.