Paul Tracy reunites with his Forsythe Racing engineer at Dragon Racing. (LAT)
Penske and Tracy are back together again in Indy car racing, just not in the original configuration.
SPEED.com can report that Jay Penske, whose famous father plucked Paul Tracy out of Indy Lights and launched his CART career exactly 20 years ago, is keeping his INDYCAR team alive and signed the popular 42-year-old Canadian to a five-race deal.
“It feels like a little bit of a homecoming because I’m back under the Penske umbrella and I’ve known Jay since he was a teenager and we both got into our fair share of trouble with his dad,” laughed Tracy, who captured 10 race wins for Roger Penske from 1991-97 and is the winningest active INDYCAR driver with 31 victories.
“I asked Jay what his dad said about us teaming up and he told me Roger said: ‘Oh great, the two guys who gave me the most problems in my life are getting together.’”
It’s a tribute to the younger Penske’s diligence that the doors will remain open in his Indianapolis shop. When sponsorship couldn’t be raised for Tony Kanaan, partner Gil de Ferran announced last month that de Ferran/Luczo Dragon Racing was finished.
But Penske spent the past month running around the country in search of sponsorship.
“You know we had a good platform going and we couldn’t come up with funding for a full season so Gil made a decision to shut things down but I wasn’t ready to quit,” said Penske, who will call his team Dragon Racing.
“I want to be in this series for a long time and develop a championship team.”
Tracy, who only made five starts in 2010, has Motegi Wheels on board along with a couple other associates to be named later.
“Jay came to see me about four weeks ago and said he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel,” continued Tracy, who will make his debut in Long Beach in three weeks.
“He said: How do we keep this thing together? So Jay, Brian Marks (of Top Speed Management) and I started beating on doors and managed to find the funding. We’re going to run at the big city markets and then try and build on this deal.
“We’ve got a solid team with John Cummiskey running things, my old engineer from Forsythe (Eric Zeto) who I had success with and some former Penske crew guys so I’m excited about the opportunity.”
Dragon Racing is currently scheduled to run Long Beach. Texas, Toronto, Edmonton and Sonoma with Tracy and also is competing at the Indianapolis 500.
P.T. had already signed with Dreyer & Reinbold for May so Dragon Racing might consider pursuing former IRL champ Sam Hornish, who captured Indy in 2006 for Roger Penske, or veterans like Bruno Junqueira or 2004 Indy winner Buddy Rice.
Jay Penske and Steve Luzco formed Luczo Dragon Racing in 2007 and debuted with a fifth at Indianapolis with Ryan Briscoe. Tomas Scheckter ran six races in 2008 before the team went full-time with Rafa Matos in 2009.
De Ferran, the 2003 Indy 500 winner and two-time CART champion, retired from driving in 2009 and joined Penske and Luzco in 2010, where Matos was again the lone driver. de Ferran introduced Kanaan as the team’s new shoe before Christmas.
Kanaan has since joined Tracy’s old team, KV Racing, with his old sponsor, GEICO, and Matos has moved into Gary Peterson’s new AFS team while Tracy has acquired WIX filters to back his Indy effort for Dennis Reinbold and Robbie Buhl.