Paul Tracy says he is still hopeful of adding at least the Toronto and Edmonton IndyCar Series rounds to his deal with KV Racing.
The team announced in Long Beach today that it had secured funding to run Tracy in this year's Indianapolis 500.
With Alex Tagliani – who is on a race-by-race deal with Conquest – currently the only Canadian in the series, there had been rumors that Tracy would appear in the two Canadian events to help boost crowds. Tracy said he was working towards driving in his home events, but that sponsorship was not yet in place.
"Well, we're working on it," he confirmed. "Obviously, it's a tough economic time right now, and I'm fortunate enough that I've got good sponsors that have helped me through this economic time. I've got some personal sponsors with Monster (energy drink) that have stuck behind me. I've been able to put together some small deals to do a couple of little things."
Team boss Jimmy Vasser said there was "no chance" of Tracy contesting next week's Kansas round in preparation for Indy, meaning that the 500 will be his first IndyCar appearance since Edmonton last July, and his first open wheel oval event since the Champ Car race at Milwaukee in June 2006. But the 2003 Champ Car champion does not think he will need long to get up to speed, and joked that he could have won the incident-packed St. Petersburg season opener two weeks ago.
"As I was laying on the couch watching the disaster of a race at St. Pete, I felt like I could get out there and clean everybody's clock, the way they were driving," said Tracy. "So from that standpoint I feel I've still got the skills to do this. You can only judge somebody on their last race, and the last race I came, I got off the couch and finished in the top five (at Edmonton)."
He does not think his six-year absence from Indianapolis will be a handicap, either.
"It's been a couple years since I've been there, but the track is the same," said Tracy. "The tradition of Indy is the same. It's four corners."
The press conference to announce Tracy's KV deal saw a surprise appearance from former Champ Car and IndyCar driver Max Papis. The Italian's NASCAR program is sponsored by insurance company GEICO, which is also backing Tracy at Indianapolis, so Papis attended the conference in the costume of the 'GEICO Gecko' character used in the firm's marketing. Papis, who only removed the costume's head to reveal himself halfway through the event, confirmed that he was there to support Tracy and had no plans to return to Indy himself.
"I'm driving the #13 car in the Sprint Cup Series, and that's a great challenge in itself," he said.