Little ado about something (cont.)
Paul Tracy's Comeback
Paul Tracy's return to the cockpit of an IndyCar literally brought him from laying on the couch to a top-five finish in the Rexall Edmonton Indy.
"It shows that I wasn't going to come out and get in bad equipment and run around at the back," said the 39-year-old Canadian driver. "I feel that I can do the job with the right car. I showed that today. Waiting for the right opportunity was the right thing to do.
"It sure feels like a win. A week ago I was hanging out in England and a week before that I was hanging out on the beach in San Diego. I've been out of the car since April and people were telling me to get in any car and drive, but I didn't want to get in a bad car and drive. I knew with the right equipment I could drive. That opportunity came along to race in Canada and we delivered the goods. It's a relief to know I can race with these guys."
That right opportunity came from Vision Racing team owner and Indy Racing League CEO Tony George and Derrick Walker, who joined forces with Subway of Canada to bring back the one big name driver that has been missing from IndyCar unification.
Tracy was unable to get a full season ride when his Champ Car Series team owner, Gerry Forsythe, refused to release the 31-race winner from his contract and Forsythe chose not to join the unified series.
George, once his bitter rival after he ruled against Tracy following the disputed finish in the 2002 Indianapolis 500, came up to the driver and gave him a warm congratulation for the monumental finish.
"People were saying I've got to come out and prove myself and show that I could still drive at my age," said Tracy. "We came from 16th to fourth. It was a hard race and I'm really proud of the guys who worked hard in the pit. I have to thank everyone for this opportunity and hopefully this will lead to something bigger and better for us."
Tracy and Walker want to continue their relationship in more IndyCar races this season but that is dependent on sponsorship over the last four events.
A little bit of that spark came when Tracy heard about a bet some of his former crewmembers at Forsythe Racing made with Walker's crew; that Tracy would be a flop in his first IRL race since losing the 2002 Indy 500 to Helio Castroneves in a blink of the caution light, a ruling by chief steward Brian Barnhart and a final decision by George.
"They made bets against me that I wouldn't break the top-20 all weekend because they think the problem at Forsythe was me and not the team," Tracy said. "They bet some people on my team that we would be lost all weekend and not competitive. In practice we ran in the top six or seven, so it was nice to rub some salt in their wounds."
And, he was able to win his crew members a little extra money by taking up the bet with his former Forsythe crewmembers.
It's Not a Complete Column Unless There's a Danica Note
While Danica Patrick continues to fight off controversy, she remains the face of the IndyCar Series and has been nominated for the Teen Choice Awards this weekend in Hollywood.
"I'm very honored and flattered to be up for such prestigious awards like Best Female Athlete," Patrick said. "I was fortunate enough to win best female athlete at the Kids Choice Awards earlier this year and was up for best female athlete again at the ESPYs and now the Teen Choice. I'm looking forward to going out there. One of the very big fan bases that I have is children and kids, so it's always nice to be able to see them. Nothing puts a smile on your face quite like kids, especially when you can make them smile. I'm looking forward to going out there next Sunday."
Patrick continued to be asked about her confrontations with fellow drivers, most notably the celebrated incident with Milka Duno at Mid-Ohio last week.
"As a driver, I am not afraid to have conversations with other drivers, which sometimes, I think in my life, I'm definitely under a close eye and there are always cameras and TVs and things around so I just have to watch what I'm doing and where I'm doing it at," Patrick said.
"That's probably the lesson that I have learned over the past few years; people are always watching. What can I say? It's a double-edged sword. You do good things and that's fantastic, and then you do other things that are good or bad or just indifferent or can be something that people can draw their own opinions about, and those are the fine lines that you walk. I just have to be aware of that."
A recent survey by Forbes listed Patrick as the seventh top earning female athlete.
"I know as a team, my family and myself, everyone that works closely with us has worked very hard to make sure that we do a good job with public image, with endorsements, with marketing and advertising for companies," Patrick said. "That's important to us, so we've made sure that we've done a good job trying to maintain as well as get to a new level. I think it works. I'm flattered to be in the top-10."
What I'm Looking Forward to This Week
A weekend off for the first time since Easter Sunday on March 23. That and watching from afar as NASCAR heads to Pocono for the second of its two trips to the Pennsylvania track.