Paul Tracy has confirmed that he is looking forward to his recently-announced appearances in the IndyCar Series' two Canadian races as a means of improving on his showing at the Indianapolis 500.
The veteran, who had just one IRL appearance under belt after failing to land a regular ride for either 2008 or '09, took the third of KV Racing Technology's cars to ninth place in the blue riband event, but admitted that he probably shouldn't have been that high after struggling with the handling of the GEICO-backed machine for much of the day.
Tracy started 13th, but quickly moved into the top ten, where he remained for most of the race. Although the #15 got as high as fourth following the fifth round of pit-stops - when his crew picked up five positions - the Canadian could not hold on to a top-five finish and slid back down the order to come home between Ed Carpenter and Hideki Mutoh..
“I want to thank GEICO, KV Racing Technology team and all my sponsors that made this Indy 500 happen,” Tracy said after having had chance to reflect on his series return, "It's not the finish I wanted, as I would have liked to have been in the top five. The pit crew did a fantastic job of getting me up there but, unfortunately, I ran over some debris from Tony [Kanaan]'s accident and damaged the underside of the car, so I was not able to stay there. We got ourselves up there on a pit-stop, but the car just wasn't good enough to stay there. It was a tenth-place car all day, and we ended up ninth. "
The 2003 Champ Car champion was making a sixth appearance at Indianapolis, but his first since a controversial runner-up finish in 2002. Ninth on Sunday was, remarkably, Tracy's second best performance at the Speedway, but he admitted that it had been a struggle from the off.
"The car was understeering the whole day, and I could never really get close to guys in traffic," he revealed, "But I've got to thank all the sponsors we had on board, because it's great to be back out there, and great to run with the top ten guys all day. But, you know, I just wish we did a little bit better."
Unlike 2008, where he made a much-publicised, but ultimately one-off, return at Edmonton, Tracy knows that he ahs two further chances to shine in 2009, with a return to the Canadian airport circuit being complemented by an appearance on a Toronto track new to the series but familiar to those that raced on it in Champ Car.
"I hope I will be back," he ruminated, "I think I certainly showed that I am capable of being competitive and I look forward to having another chance at the two Canadian races. This was a good tune-up race for me as, obviously, I had been out of the car for a year - and off of an oval like this for a long time - so it's good to be back out there. We've got two more races in Canada, and hopefully I get another chance at it."