Paul Tracy is on the threshold of the first drivers' championship of his 13-year Champ Car career, but the PF Racing driver admits that is not uppermost in his mind in his approach to this weekends Lexmark Indy 300, a 65-lap race on the 2.795-mile Surfers Paradise street course.
"Our focus in Australia is just concentrate on every practice session and not worry about points - just do our best and if we're able to wrap up the championship, that's half the battle," said Tracy. "If not we keep racing until the last lap in (Fontana) California."
Tracy enters this next-to-last race on the Champ Car World Series schedule with a 29-point (226-197) lead over his closest rival Bruno Junqueira of Brazil. If Tracy should clinch the title in Australia he would become the first Canadian to win a CART championship since Jacques Villeneuve in 1995.
"Winning the championship would the fulfillment of a goal that I've had since I first started racing," remarked Tracy. "I've won 26 CART races and basically achieved all of the individual goals I've set for myself. But that doesn't mean as much as a championship for the team. That's what I'm striving for."
Tracy has a history of success on the fast street course in this splendid Australian setting. He won the event in 1995 and returned to the podium last year, with a third-place finish, just behind his current PF Racing teammate Patrick Carpentier, in a chaotic, rain-shortened race. The tricky Australian circuit has yielded 12 different winners in its 12-year history.
"We're going to try to do what weve been consistent in doing for much of the season, and that is being competitive right out of the chute and doing well in qualifying," explained Tracy. "The six times that weve won a spot on the front row, we've finished on the podium in five of the races. That's a formula were going to try to follow in Australia."
Carpentier, meanwhile, is a strong threat to become the 13th different winner in Australia in as many years. The PF Racing driver is heading to the Land Down Under with two items on his wish list - drier track conditions than last year and improved brake performance on his car, which has been problematic in recent races.
"Surfers Paradise can be quite tough on a car, especially the braking system, with the chicanes and deep braking zones," said Carpentier. "If we can get that problem resolved, I believe we can do well and follow up last year's second-place finish in the rain with a race win this time."
A race win would give Carpentier, who is currently fifth in the drivers' standings, 156 points. That would be within one point of matching his career high in the Champ Car series.
Racing fans can follow the Lexmark Indy 300 throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at lastlap.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network starting at 12:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.