HOMESTEAD, Fla. (January 6, 2000) -- Paul Tracy was on the outside looking in last year for the Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota. A one-race suspension sidelined the popular Canadian from participating in the season opening race of the CART FedEx Championship.
Thursday, Tracy returned to Homestead-Miami Speedway, testing for the March 24-26 running of the Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota. Joining the Team Kool Green driver for the Speedway's first CART testing of the new year were Team Rahal's Max Papis and Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez.
"The last time I tested here was last year, so it's been a full year since I've been on track here," said Tracy. "It's good to be back. I think we've got a real good shot this year at winning the championship, especially if we can get started off the way we ended last season. If we can get the ball rolling early, I think we've got a good chance at winning this season."
Tracy finished third in the 1999 championship, winning the races at Milwaukee and Houston. He finished the year with eight consecutive finishes in the points, ending the year with 11 top-11 finishes, including seven in the top three. Teammate Dario Franchitti ended the year in a tie for the points lead, but lost the championship to rookie sensation Juan Montoya on a tie-breaker.
"I think it's going to be tougher season this year, with rules changes and testing limitations," Tracy explained. "There are a lot of teams that are going to be strong. But I think with the way our season ended up last year -- as the most consistent team -- if we can hold that through the start of the season, I think we should be in good shape."
While many of the CART FedEx teams are changing chassis, engines or tires for 2000, Team Kool Green is staying with the same Reynard/Honda/Firestone combination, a combination Tracy feels will work to the team's advantage.
"I think staying with the same package is good," he said. "We know what we've got to deal with. We've got a good working relatationship with all the manufacturers. I think consistency and stability is a good formula for us.
Tracy was voted by CART competitors as the most improved driver in the series, a fitting honor to a season that ended by him sitting out the opener as a penalty for rough driving late in the 1998 season.
"Things have been going good for me, both at the track and away from the track," Tracy admitted. "I'm looking forward to the season starting. It's going to creep up real quick!"
Ticket orders are now being accepted for the 2000 Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota, by calling (305) 230-RACE. For additional information, visit the Speedway's official web site, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.