Helio Castroneves didn't want to hear any residual boos from Paul Tracy fans during this weekend's Rexall Edmonton Indy - so he took the proactive approach of wearing an 'I love Canada' T-shirt with Tracy's #15 inserted in the maple leaf heart of the design.
The reigning Indianapolis 500 champion wasn't the most popular IndyCar Series driver in Toronto two weeks ago when his car got tangled up with Tracy's as they contested second place late in the race on the Exhibition Place course. Sustained boos - something the effervescent Castroneves isn't used to hearing - rained when he returned to pit-lane.
"I will use it most of the weekend," he insisted, "I admire the fans. They're supporting their people and that's the way it should be."
Both Tracy and Castroneves said the incident was 'one of those racing things'.
"He's the last person I would want to tangle with," Castroneves laughed, "It's unfortunate because it cost me a lot of points in the championship. That's what people sometimes don't understand. I was just trying to finish the race."
Tracy, who will again be driving the Edmonton Honda Dealers/WoundedWarriors.ca
entry for KV Racing Technology in Edmonton, agreed.
"I think it cost me a good finish in Canada but, for him, it effectively ended his championship run," said Tracy, who finished fourth on the Edmonton City Centre Airport course last year, "To make up that [78-point] difference in last six or seven races is too difficult."
Tracy's signed firesuit from Toronto will be auctioned as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warriors charity - and will now be joined by Castroneves' signed T-shirt.