Two of the most volatile personalities in IndyCar racing will team up this weekend, as A.J. Foyt has hired veteran driver Paul Tracy to replace the injured Vitor Meira in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. car in the May 31 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile.
Meira sustained two fractured vertebrae when he tangled with Raphael Matos in the Indianapolis 500 and slammed into the wall. He is expected to be out of the cockpit for at least four months.
Tracy's deal with Foyt's team currently covers Milwaukee only. The 2003 Champ Car champion is a four-time winner at the Wisconsin oval.
"For me I'm excited to get an opportunity to drive albeit as a fill-in for Vitor as I know it's a short-term thing," said Tracy "When I started my career, I competed against A.J. He was one of my idols growing up. I haven't told too many people this, but he was one of the guys I modeled myself after. I'm a little rough around the edges like him and I say what I feel, there's no B.S. and that's one of the things I've always admired about him."
Foyt felt that Tracy was a very good fit for his team.
"Paul Tracy is a hard charger and our type of driver, much like Vitor," said the four-time Indy winner. "I believe we can put the right equipment under Paul, and we've both had success there, so I think we can put our heads together and have a good race."
Milwaukee is a particularly important race for Foyt's squad, as it is backed by the team's main sponsor ABC Supply (which is based in Wisconsin) and is titled the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225. Although Foyt Racing has not achieved much success in recent years, Tracy is confident that he can be a frontrunner at Milwaukee.
"I think the team is competing at a much higher level these days," said Tracy. "I had a long conversation with Larry [Foyt, team director] and they're working hard. That's all I expect from people is to do their best. I think I'm the kind of driver who could make the difference at Milwaukee."
Tracy returned to the IndyCar Series with KV Racing for Indianapolis and finished ninth. His deal with Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser's team has also been extended to cover the Canadian events in Toronto and Edmonton.
Meira has been undergoing treatedment at Methodist Hospital since May 24. Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League, evaluated Meira again on Tuesday and expects Meira to be released from the hospital tomorrow. Meira will meet with Dr. Terry Trammell on Friday and expects to receive clearance to return to his home in Florida.