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Paul Tracy has announced that he will return to the Indianapolis 500 with KV Racing this year for the first time since he controversially missed out on victory in the 2002 race.
KV team boss Jimmy Vasser had hoped to sign Tracy for the full 2009 season but was unable to secure sponsorship. However the 1996 Champ Car champion is confident that his friend and former rival will star for the team at Indianapolis.
"I think I can speak for everyone at KVRT when I say that running Paul Tracy at the Indy 500 is very exciting," said Vasser.
"Even though Paul hasn't been in an open-wheel car much the last year, having raced against him and knowing his ability, I am sure he will get up to speed immediately."
The popular Canadian has not had a full-time drive since the Champ Car World Series, which he won in 2003, was merged into the IndyCar Series at the start of last year. His only open-wheel races in 2008 were with Forsythe in the Champ Car finale in Long Beach and in a Walker-run Vision Racing car in the Edmonton IndyCar race, where he finished fourth.
Tracy remained with Champ Car during the initial open-wheel split in 1996 so only contested a handful of Indy 500s – with little success – in the early 1990s. But he made a one-off return to Indianapolis with Team Green for 2002, when he passed Helio Castroneves for the lead on the final lap just as a full course yellow came out. Despite Tracy insisting that he had completed the move before the caution, the Indy Racing League eventually awarded Castroneves the win.
The Canadian says that controversy is now behind him and he is keen to fight for an undisputed victory this year.
"Indianapolis is a special place and I look forward to returning and taking a run at getting a win and putting my name in the history books," said Tracy.
"I've committed my life to racing and a win at Indy is something that is very important to me. The past is the past and I'll go to IMS focused on the present, putting forth my best effort for (sponsor) GEICO and KV Racing."