It's not official, but Paul Tracy indicated Saturday at Daytona International Speedway he is on the verge of securing a contract with Michael Shank Racing for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season. It would be the Canadian's 22nd and final season in IndyCar, to coincide with the team's first.
Tracy, running at Daytona in the Doran Racing Ford-powered Dallara DP car, first let the hint slip during a SPEED television interview prior to his running, when he said he was negotiating to have a contract with “Shank the Tank.” He elaborated in the media center shortly thereafter.
“Right now, my plan is to do a final season of IndyCar racing,” he said. “I made a statement on TV before I got in the car to end the speculation. I'm trying to do a deal with Michael Shank to start a team with him and AJ Allmendinger. We have a car, we have a sponsor. We need to put together an engine program this week and tie up some other contractual stuff.”
Although Shank announced its intention to run with Lotus engines when the team confirmed its participation for 2012 at Las Vegas in October, the team's engine contract status is still to be determined, and a Honda contract remains the target.
“It's not a secret that I have a personal services deal with Honda Canada,” Tracy said. “Although it's still Honda, the corporate structure is different. We're going through the channels of trying to secure a Honda motor. That's the most important goal we're trying to achieve. If we don't, we don't, and we'd look at what the next engine could be.”
Shank, whose main priority is calling the race for his two DP entries, tweeted earlier Saturday, “Just for everyone's info Shank the tank is not the worst thing anyone has called me!! LOL... Gotta lov PT!”
Tracy twice drove for Shank at the Rolex 24 (2006 and 2007), and is trying to come back from losing nine laps with engine issues earlier in the race.