Jay Penske, former co-owner of de Ferran Dragon Racing and Luczo Dragon Racing, today formally announced his new Dragon Racing IZOD IndyCar Series squad. The team announced that the Ralph's grocery store chain would join its list of sponsors for its first race – this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Dragon Racing will begin the 2011 program at Long Beach with veteran Paul Tracy as the driver for its No. 8 entry. A total of five races are planned with Tracy, including Long Beach, Texas, Toronto, Edmonton and Sonoma. In addition, the team will enter a car in the Indianapolis 500 with a driver yet to be named (Tracy is unavailable there, having already signed to drive with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing).
"We are very excited to be returning to the IZOD IndyCar Series and delighted to have a driver like Paul Tracy piloting the racecar," Penske said. "Paul is an outstanding driver and we are confident this partnership will become the building blocks for something longer term. After discussing available options with my former co-owners, and with their full support, I decided to take a different path and, as a result, I am extremely pleased to continue the Dragon name with a team that is substantially the same as our 2010 lineup, managed by 21-year-veteran John Cummiskey."
Tracy, now in his 21st season of IndyCar racing, has compiled an impressive career. He's listed among the top 10 in almost every statistical category, including wins (tied for seventh with 31), poles (ninth with 25) and laps led (sixth with 4,238). Tracy earned 75 career podium finishes, 102 top-5 finishes and captured the Champ Car World Series championship in 2003. Tracy has won at Long Beach four times.
"It's great to be racing again, and I'm excited to be working with Dragon Racing," Tracy said. "I explored several options for the 2011 season, and partnering with Jay Penske makes it that much more special for me. I've known Jay for many years, since my time with Penske Racing. After just a few discussions I realized we shared the same vision and that the newly formed Dragon Racing team was the best fit for my extended return to the IndyCar Series. We've been working hard to bring this partnership to life, and I look forward to competitive runs at a number of tracks I've had success in the past."
Added Penske: "Even though we are initially only running a limited schedule, the team is very realistic and understands we will face challenges together during the season. However, with Paul's talent, and our crew's collective racing experience of over 150 years, I feel that we can be competitive at any race we compete in and may even surprise a few people along the way."
Ralphs Grocery will join Dragon Racing as the primary sponsor for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in a retailer partnership that includes support from PepsiCo, FritoLay, Berringer Wine and Rockstar Energy Drink. Motegi Racing and Wheel Pros will provide extended sponsorship support for all Dragon Racing events in the 2011 season.
"Motegi and Wheel Pros have a strong association with racing, and we are thrilled to join with Dragon Racing in support of Paul Tracy this season," said Jody Groce, president of Wheel Pros. "We have been a long-time sponsor of Paul and to be a part his new partnership with Dragon is just great for our brands and associates throughout the organization. We look forward to helping bring the team back to prominence within the IZOD IndyCar Series."
Dragon said it will have additional sponsor news to be announced soon.