Tracy to return to Indy 500; other notes


By Dave Lewandowski

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Paul Tracy won the CART championship in 2003 and earned his first career victory in 1993 on the streets of Long Beach. The one trophy missing from his mantle is the one he’s wanted the most – from the Indianapolis 500.

Tracy, 41, will get another shot May 30. The Canadian will drive the No. 15 GEICO-KV Racing Technology car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Opening day is May 15.

“I want to thank (co-owners) Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser of KVRT and GEICO for the opportunity to return to the world’s biggest auto race,” Tracy said at a news conference preceding IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “I have won races and championships at the top level during my racing career, but what I’m missing is a win at Indy.

“I feel I have some unfinished business at the Brickyard and, with the support of GEICO and an outstanding team like KV Racing Technology, I feel good about our chances at this year’s ‘500.’ ’’

Tracy, who will join KV Racing Technology regulars E.J. Viso, Mario Moraes and Takuma Sato, will attempt to compete in Indy 500 for the seventh time. He was runner-up to Helio Castroneves in 2002 and finished ninth last year.

“It is tremendous to bring Paul back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway again this year,” Vasser said. “Paul was very competitive last year in the GEICO machine in his first Indy 500 in seven years. After last year’s return to the Speedway, we believe Paul will be a contender for the win.”

Tracy has competed in 270 Indy car races, with 31 victories (sixth all-time) and 25 pole starts. John Dick, technical director at KV Racing Technology, will be the engineer.

Martinez is ‘Hometown Hero’

SGT Louie M. Martinez , a native of National City, Calif., and a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, is the National Guard Panther Racing’s “Hometown Hero” for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

SGT Martinez was given a ride in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater by Dan Wheldon, had a special “hero card” with his picture and biography that he signed at the IZOD IndyCar Series autograph session and will be honored during the driver introductions.

Martinez, currently assigned to the HHC 40th Infantry Division, is a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal and National Defense Service Medal among other commendations.

Panther Racing honors a Hometown Hero at each domestic IZOD IndyCar Series race.


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