They said that they couldn't possibly work together, but Paul Tracy and AJ Foyt appear willing to give it a go following the latter's decision to hire the former Champ Car champion to replace the injured Vitor Meira.

Meira's accident in the closing stages of Sunday's Indianapolis 500 left the Brazilian with two fractured vertebrae and facing time in a back brace, with co-crasher Raphael Matos confirming that he expected his countryman to be out of action for the remainder of the season.

That, of course, leaves a vacancy behind the wheel of the #14 ABC Supply Co car for this weekend's ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225 at the Milwaukee Mile and beyond - and Tracy wasn't exactly topping too many lists when it came to projecting replacements.

Instead of opting for the more obvious Darren Manning - who spent the last two seasons squeezing more out of the #14 than most of his predecessors - and AJ Foyt IV, who returned to the 'family' team for the 500 after a couple of years at Vision Racing, AJ Sr called Tracy. The Canadian has a three-race programme lined up with the KVRT operation co-owned by long-time friend and rival Jimmy Vasser, but did not expect to be in harness for Milwaukee.

"I'm excited to get an opportunity to drive, albeit as a fill-in for Vitor, as I know it's a short-term thing," Tracy insisted, "When I started my career [in 1991], I competed against AJ - and he was one of my idols growing up.

"I haven't told too many people this, but he was one of the guys I modelled myself after. I'm a little rough around the edges like him, and I say what I feel. That's one of the things I've always admired about him."

It could be a winning combination too, for Tracy has made 14 starts at The Milwaukee Mile, recording victories in 1995, 1999, 2002 and 2005, while Foyt also won four times as a driver there - in 1962, 1964, 1975 and 1979.

"Paul is a hard charger and our type of driver, much like Vitor," Foyt said of the 31-time Champ Car race winner, "I believe we can put the right equipment under Paul, and we've both had success there, so I think we can put our heads together and have a good race.

"It's a very important race for us because it's sponsored by our team sponsor ABC Supply, which is based in Wisconsin. Milwaukee is their home track, and it is the AJ Foyt 225."

Meira's lower back injury has been treated at Methodist Hospital and IRL medical director Dr Michael Olinger, who evaluated the Brazilian again on Tuesday [26 May], expects him to be released from the hospital today [Wednesday]. Meira will meet with Dr Terry Trammell on 29 May and expects to receive clearance to return to his Florida home to continue his recuperation.


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