The month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is officially under way as the rookies of the Indycar Series hit the track today for rookie orientation.
Though racing here seven years ago, Paul Tracy was given the track time today to shake out the cobwebs. It didn't take the 40-year-old Canadian long as he tops the practice charts in his No. 15 GEICO/KV Racing entry, posting a time of 40.3426 seconds (223.069mph).
"Obviously, I've been doing this for so long, have a lot of experience at it," he said. "It's not like I'm going there as a rookie, never seen the place, never been on a track like that. I've raced there a bunch of times, done lots of miles."
"I'm pretty happy with where we're at right now."
The last time we saw Tracy race was in last year's Rexall Edmonton Indy, where he advanced 11 positions from his starting position to finish fourth.
"I just want to race. It's all I've ever done," said Tracy, who was declared the runner-up to Helio Castroneves in the controversial 500-Mile Race in 2002. "I've been racing since I was six years old and I didn't want my career to just come to an abrupt stop after racing Indy cars for 16 or 17 years. When the merge happened, my team owner decided to stop and when the music stopped, it kind of left me without any seats to sit in.
"It's been very frustrating thinking after all this time my career's just going to end like that. That's not the way I wanted it to end. I realize I'm not going to race another 10 years, but I'd like to run a couple more years. I feel I'm competitive. I feel I've got the drive. And hopefully something will open up."
"I know I'm not going to run forever, but I want to have a couple more years and have a shot at it and have something for my fans to remember."
Coming second on the charts was Scott Sharp, posting a time of 40.5628 (221.878mph) in his No. 16 Tequila Patron Panther Racing entry. Rounding out the top three was 2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion, Alex Lloyd, who had a quick lap of 213.032mph in his No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
"There was obviously a lot of anticipation and a lot of excitement surrounding the whole opportunity with Patron and Panther Racing," Sharp said. "To get out here and finally start doing it today, it was great. It feels so good to be back. By lap one, it felt like I was back in the old shoe again."
Rookie orientation practice continues May 6, from 9am-2pm ET, followed by practice for all cars entered in the Indianapolis 500.