Paul Tracy could hardly have got more from his return to the Indy Racing League, and admitted that finishing fourth on home soil in the Rexall Edmonton Indy felt as good as winning after the best part of three months spent out of the cockpit.
Accepting a hurriedly-arranged ride in a Vision Racing Dallara-Honda prepared and run by Walker Racing and backed, for this one outing, by the Subway fast food chain, Tracy finally achieved his aim of racing in the merged IndyCar Series. More than that, however, the Canadian proved that he deserved
a place on the grid by running in the top half of the field all afternoon, having only missed out on a top twelve grid slot courtesy of a rookie error in Friday's qualifying session.
Although his race was not without incident, notably when his pit-to-car radio failed, Tracy injected a little late drama by passing the ailing car of Oriol Servia just a few feet from the chequered flag to take a fourth place finish in a race shortened to 91 laps by time constraints.
"It sure feels like a win," the veteran admitted, "To work our way forward and run with that lead group - the Penske, the Ganassi and Andretti Green cars - and show that this team, who put together a car in just two weeks, with a driver that hadn't driven since April, can run and finish like we did, is outstanding. If we hadn't had to save so much fuel, we could have had a shot at the podium. We just barely missed it, but I had to let those guys go by because I was saving fuel."
Tracy insisted that he could have been closer to third-placed Justin Wilson than the 15 seconds that eventually divided them had he been able to take advantage of a working radio.
"I could hear the pit, but they couldn't hear me," he revealed, "I just did everything that they said, [but] we couldn't make any changes to the car, so what I had I had to stick with. We did a couple of hand signals for tyre pressure up or down under yellow, but I couldn't really optimise the car. At the end too, I had to save a lot of fuel to make it to the end."
The Canadian, who had not raced since contesting the last-ever Champ Car event at Long Beach in April, admitted that he had been particularly impressed with the way in which the Vision and Walker teams had collaborated - and reckoned that better results could be possible should the partnership find the means to continue, either this season or next.
"I'm just super-excited for the team," he enthused, "They prepared this car in about a week-and-a-half, and I gave it a first-class effort for the sponsor. With a little more practice - and me not sitting on the couch for the last six months - maybe we could do better."
The result came with a touch of irony in that, having been told that long-time employer Forsythe was not going to follow up the merger of IndyCar and Champ Car by fielding an entry for Tracy or anyone else, the Canadian has claimed that he did not want to drive for a 'second rate team'. That comment was thought to include Vision, despite Tony George possessing perhaps the only chance for Tracy to race - and wanting the star as part of his new-look IndyCar package. Walker Racing had also missed out on a place in the field, despite being the first team to commit post-merger, when sponsorship failed to materialise.