Tracy glad he took qualifying gamble

Paul Tracy says he felt he had to gamble on a second qualifying run at Indianapolis yesterday because he knew he could do much better than he had achieved on his first attempt

Tracy glad he took qualifying gamble

The former Champ Car champion had narrowly missed out on making the field on Pole Day, and was then frustrated by his first Sunday qualifying run, which was pushed down to 17th place.

Although there was very little chance of him being 'bumped out' yesterday, Tracy said that once he saw his KV Racing mechanics' disappointment, he felt obliged to try again - even though this meant forfeiting his existing time.

"As a team, we weren't happy with the run," he said. "We'd just gone out and run 223.3mph (in practice), and then went out to qualify and ran a 222.7mph and fell off.

"By the time I got done with all the interviews and got back, the crew was sitting around with frowns on their faces. I said, 'Well, that wasn't very good,' and they said, 'You want to do it again?' And I was like, 'If you guys want to.'"

Tracy explained that he sought permission from both team owners Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven, and the bosses of his sponsor Geico, as he knew he was risking having to come back and try to qualify again on the second weekend if the attempt went wrong.

"Jimmy came in and called Kevin first. Kevin said, 'If you guys want to do it again, go ahead.' We had one available set of tyres left to do a qualifying run. We called the Geico CEO, and he said: 'Yeah, I love it. Go out and do the best you can. That's what our company is all about.'"

He eventually took 13th, but still was not totally satisfied.

"It still fell off a little bit," said Tracy. "I went out and did a run that was a little bit more consistent. Then the qualifying run fell off a little bit, but we'll take that."

The Canadian's Indy 500 programme is being run on a limited budget, and he said this had hampered him more than he had expected.

"You think, 'Ah, I don't need to run that much,' but when guys were up there yesterday running 40 to 50 laps of qualifying runs to get their car ready to qualify and you sit all day watching them, it's definitely frustrating," said Tracy.

"From that standpoint, we qualified okay. It's definitely not where we'd like to be, but the race is what counts."

KV general manager Mark Johnson said the team had no qualms about supporting Tracy's qualifying gamble.

"We were relatively happy with where Paul qualified, but we knew we gave up a little bit," he said. "So, we went back and watched how the other teams were doing.

"With a driver that has Paul's level of talent and confidence there was no doubt in our minds that we could improve our position from where we were. We didn't come here to just put ourselves in the field, but to do the best we can."

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