Allan Brewer, IndyCar correspondent
- Tracy makes 2011 debut for Dragon
- Jay Penske puts effort together
- Tracy looks for 32nd win
Paul Tracy Teams with Dragon Racing for Long Beach Revival
Canadian Paul Tracy returns to the IndyCar Series in the No. 8 Dragon racing Dallara/Honda this weekend. The impromptu season debut at the 2011 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach marks the renewal of an impressive and sometimes controversial racing career.
"I'm really excited, and to come back to Long Beach where I began.
"I'm really excited, and to come back to Long Beach where I began and first won is fantastic. It's a crown-jewel of the series," said Tracy. "It's been difficult to sit in recent years and watch from the sidelines a race I've won four times."
Tracy has few doubts that the team can get his car prepared to his liking in the few days left before the cars hit the 1.968 mile street course on April 17th. "I've worked with the engineer before. I've worked with the crew before," he said. "From the time the green flag drops 'til the checkered falls, we're going out there to win."
Tracy is one of the leading players in North American open-wheel racing, currently tied at 31 victories with Frenchman Sebastian Bourdais for most. Bourdais, who three-peated the LBGP in 2005 through 2007 will also compete at Long Beach, driving for Dale Coyne Racing.
Most fans recall the humbled and emotional Tracy at the close of last year's Indianapolis 500 qualifications when he was left out of the race in the final minutes of the final hour. Beyond that was the controversial finish second to Castroneves in 2002 at Indy, and Tracy's triumphal Champ Car championship that followed a season later.
The rematch of Tracy versus Bourdais, Castroneves and a third familiar nemesis (Dario Franchitti) promises close and intense competition around the harbor course in SoCal.
The return of Tracy to an open-wheel cockpit revives a team that endured considerable off-season duress: Dragon Racing, headed by Jay Penske. Penske scrambled to put together a business arrangement for his team after abandoning a plan to put Tony Kanaan behind the wheel for 2011.
"Paul has had a ton of success at Long Beach in the past and can get the most out of any car we give him," said Penske. "This is the beginning of Dragon Racing's season and we have great expectations for what Paul can do with us."
Penske continues in discussions for a driver to compete in the 2011 Indy 500. Tracy already has a deal in place with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing.