Thanks to CART Online
Team KOOL Green Signs Tracy And Franchitti For The 1998 Season
CART Online (October 15) -- Team KOOL Green owner Barry Green announced Wednesday that his championship-winning CART Indy car team will expand to a two-car effort for the 1998 PPG CART World Series with the potent combination of new team drivers Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti.
Tracy and Franchitti will each drive Reynard Hondas on Firestone tires, the same package that Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has used to win the last two PPG Cup championships. Green also ran a Reynard Honda on Firestones in this year's PPG Cup championship with driver Parker Johnstone who will not return with the team in 1998.
Tracy will drive the No. 26 KOOL Reynard Honda while Franchitti will carry the team's traditional No. 27 on an identical race car. It is the first time Green has run a two-car team in PPG Cup competition.
"We're thrilled to be working with two tremendously gifted drivers," Green said. "Paul Tracy is a proven winner, and pairing him with an outstanding talent like Dario Franchitti gives us what we hope will be a winning combination in 1998.
Tracy, 28, has 13 career PPG Cup wins dating back to his first victory in the 1993 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with Team Penske. Eleven of those victories - including three straight wins this year at Nazareth, Rio and Gateway - came driving for Team Penske. They parted company last week, but Green quickly picked up Tracy.
Franchitti, 24, just completed an impressive rookie season of PPG Cup competition during which he frequently topped not only his fellow first- year competitors but also series veterans as well driving Carl Hogan's Reynard Mercedes-Benz. Although his best finish of the season was only a ninth at Australia, Franchitti often ran with the leaders - he led races on four occasions - and qualified on the pole at Toronto. As the season progressed, several teams expressed and interest in the young driver, and he eventually split with Hogan before the season-ending race at California Speedway when it became clear Franchitti was looking elsewhere.
Franchitti is from Scotland but, as his name implies, has Italian lineage. Prior to his U.S. racing debut, Franchitti was a top driver for the Mercedes-Benz European Touring Car team in 1995 and 1996. He also has experience in British Formula 3 and the Formula Vauxhall Lotus Championship.
Green won the 1995 PPG Cup with current Formula One star Jacques Villeneuve. The team's new drivers will begin an extensive winter testing program next week.