For the second straight year, RACER.com will be bringing you the thoughts of Paul Tracy on his month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. -Ed.
I'm not pumped, I'm not fired up. I'm ready. Just super confident and ready. I think the GEICO No. 15 KV Racing entry is going to be a contender, and I'm ready to go with it all the way.
And so's the crew. Barry Green, my old amigo, went into the KV shop on Tuesday and called me and said, “Man, I'm impressed. All the guys working on your car are experienced veterans. You don't have to tell them what to do. They're not a bunch of young kids who have got to constantly be monitored. They've been there, done it all and for several years.”
So that's good news. Also, we've got the Honda motor this year to do as much running as we feel we need to do. Last year we were on a limited-mileage program, so it was difficult to try everything we wanted to. Our plan is to go out there, feel the car out the first day (Saturday) on race-level downforce, and then Sunday, Monday, Tuesday go to work on the race setup – simulations, getting in the draft, running in groups, checking out the tires, practicing pit stops, checking out our gearing. That's all the sort of stuff that we either didn't do or didn't have as much time practicing as the big guns last year. Everyone was doing that the second week, when we weren't running.
Then from Wednesday through Friday, we'll be trying out qualifying setups in time for Pole Day on the Saturday. I'd get a lot of satisfaction from getting pole position but that's not our focus. Our goal is to try and make the top nine, and I believe that is definitely achievable. We didn't really have a good stab at it last year, for a whole bunch of reasons – mainly because it was a deal that came together later than we'd planned. But getting into the top nine is a good goal, because being in those first three rows means there's a lot less chance of getting caught up in a shunt at the start of the race.
It's going to be tough, though. As well as the Penske and Ganassi cars, one of my KV teammates, Mario Moraes, proved last year that he's fast around Indy, Tony Kanaan is great there every year and I think Danica always goes well there, too. You'd think Dan Wheldon might be a force, too, but he's been in Nowhereville this year. On the other hand, last year Panther struggled through practice and qualifying but then came good for the race. He's hard to judge.
But, you know, KV is ready and it sounds like everyone's done their work. Jimmy Vasser's fired up, obviously, and although I haven't spoken to Kevin Kalkhoven for a bit, I think he's proud of the team. Mark Johnson, the team manager, is obviously flat-out at the moment looking after four cars, but he's a cool, level-headed guy – like Barry, like my chief engineer John Dick – the sort of people you want on your side on the big occasions.
The motor home is due to arrive here in Indy today after a 24-hour run from Vegas, and it's got a trailer with the Lincoln in it (see pic) which will be my road wheels while I'm in Indy. It's better than any damn rental.
I'll get back to you soon.