Racing opportunities looked bleak for veteran US open wheel star Paul Tracy, but it's been confirmed that he'll return to the IZOD IndyCar series for an extra five races - including both the series' Canadian outings.
The 42-year-old Canadian racing star has already signed with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to compete for a spot on the grid of the hundredth running of the Indianapolis 500, and the new announcement will additionally put him on the grid at Long Beach, Texas, Toronto, Edmonton and Sonoma under the banner of Dragon Racing.
The team is run by Jay Penske, who is pulling together the remains of the former de Ferran Dragon Racing team co-owned by Gil de Ferran until it was closed down at the start of the year after failing to find sufficient sponsorship funding to justify a 2011 campaign. The collapse of the team meant that their planned driver Tony Kanaan briefly looked to be out of the series until he found a last-minute seat at KV racing Technology.
Now Jay Penske is trying to rebuild the team without de Ferran, but with backing from Japan-based Motegi Wheels and additional sponsors to be announced. The deal initially looked like it could be for the full season, but Motegi Wheels' head office was destroyed in the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which also hit several of the company's plants.
However, Tracy believes that there is still a chance for the schedule to be expanded in due course to include Milwaukee, Loundon, the new street race of Baltimore - and the season finale at Las Vegas, although he would not be eligible for the $5m challenge prize fund if he were to win.
"Expectations for Long Beach are that I expect nothing and will give everything, just like Dragon Racing will for me," Tracy wrote on his blog at racer.com
. "We've had no testing, but it's still a street course where there can be a lot of carnage, a lot of pit strategy, crazy things happening.
"The first time I won it, on the previous configuration in 1993, was for someone with the surname Penske," he added.
The reborn team will once again be managed by John Cummiskey, with engineering help from Eric Zeto who worked with Tracy at Forsythe Racing in Champ Car. Penske even hopes to have an entry at Indianapolis - although it will be driven by someone other than Tracy.
Tracy has 31 race wins in US open wheel racing, tied with multiple Champ Car series champion Sebastien Bourdais. The deal will see him back on the grid as early as next weekend, on April 13 at Long Beach.