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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tracy, KVRT Go Green At Indy

Driver Paul Tracy and the No. 15 KV Racing Technology team will have a decidedly Green flair at this year's Indianapolis 500 - Barry Green, that is.

Tracy's former CART team owner will assume the role of race strategist on the No. 15 Geico Dallara-Honda at this year's 500, reuniting a pairing that won six CART races between 1998 and 2002, as well as claiming an unofficial 500 victory in 2002.

When team owner Jimmy Vasser could not promise Tracy the same level of individual commitment to his car as he gave last year, Vasser asked the Canadian to explore new possibilities for a strategist. The choice was clear and immediate, and Green was announced in his new role today.

This will be the first that open-wheel racing has seen of Green since the end of the 2002 season, after which he sold his operation to Michael Andretti and Kim Green. The former Team Green now operates four full-time cars as Andretti Autosport.

It was actually the "unofficial" 500 victory with Tracy in 2002 that forced Green to sell his team and abandon the sport. On lap 198, Tracy passed Helio Castroneves as Buddy Lazier and Laurent Redon crashed. Because of a dispute over when the caution lights went on, Castroneves was reawarded the lead and the victory. An expensive protest followed. Some replays showed Tracy clearly ahead of Castroneves as the lights went on; the committee in charge disagreed, perhaps (as some claim) because the IRL did not want a CART team to win its biggest race once again. It was the cost of this protest that helped drive Green out of the sport.

Meanwhile, Tracy stuck by his guns in CART, selling "REAL Indy 500 Winner" shirts for the remainder of the year and winning the final series title under the CART name in 2003.

Tracy will be making his seventh 500 start if he qualifies. His teammates at Indianapolis will be Takuma Sato, E.J. Viso, and Mario Moraes. Viso and Moraes will be making their third 500 starts, and Sato will be making his 500 debut. Sato has raced at Indy before, in Formula 1, where he finished third in 2004. It was Sato's only F1 podium finish.

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