Paul Tracy is optimistic that he can get Dreyer & Reinbold into the top six when he returns to the team for this weekend's IZOD IndyCar Series race at Kentucky.
The 2003 Champ Car champion will contest the next two events for DRR while the injured Mike Conway continues his recovery. Tracy said he had been highly encouraged by his D&R teammate Justin Wilson's run from 23rd to seventh at Chicagoland this weekend, and is aiming for a similar performance.
"It's encouraging when you see teams like D&R, a much smaller operation than a Penske or Ganassi, come from the back and race their way to the front," he said. "It's the type of racing that can be done if you get the car right.
"They have some things they learned from the final practice and the race that they think are going to help the car in qualifying trim. Hopefully we can have Justin and I have good starting positions and race well together and both get solid top-10 finishes.
"If it's like Chicagoland, for sure the first third of the race, because I haven't done that style of racing in a while, it's going to take me a little bit to get my feet back under me and get used to whatever situation you have to get into. But as the race progresses, hopefully we'll be running toward the front.
"Are we going to come there and win the race? It's a pretty lofty goal. But I think a realistic expectation is to finish in the top 10. If things go really well, I can have a good, solid finish like Justin had [at Chicagoland], maybe even a top five or six."
Tracy's deal is currently for Kentucky and Motegi only, but the Canadian – who also had an outing with Dreyer & Reinbold at Watkins Glen – said he would be open to stepping in again at Homestead if Conway was not fit enough to return for the season finale.
"There's a possibility that he could be ready to run. It's his car," Tracy said of Conway. "From that standpoint, if he comes back, that's great for him. But if he doesn't, then I hope that we can have a good couple races and hopefully the natural decision will be for me to continue."
The Canadian added that he is working hard to ensure he has at least one more full season in IndyCar before retiring. He has not had a full-time drive since the 2007 Champ Car season, and even that was interrupted by injury. This year has seen him contest a handful of rounds for KV Racing alongside his Dreyer & Reinbold appearances.
"I would hazard a guess that I will be running next year in some capacity, whether it's one or five [races] or maybe the whole season, I don't know yet," he said. "But my focus right now is to try to put together a full-season program. I'd like to run another year or two and have some type of a farewell tour for myself to finish my career off after putting 20 years into the sport.
"So that's what I'm focusing on. If that happens, it happens. If it doesn't, then we just pick and choose the races that we can put the programs together for."