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Paul Tracy coming to Sportsnet; Kyle Busch to Expo

Published January 27, 2013

I’ll kick off this week’s Monday Morning Racing Roundup with a little good news about Sportsnet’s coverage of Indy car racing in the spring and summer.

Paul Tracy is going to do colour commentating on Sportsnet’s telecast of the Honda Indy Toronto and maybe other races in the IZOD IndyCar Series as well.

Tracy spilled the news himself during the telecast this weekend of the Rolex 24 at Daytona (more about that below) when he was being interviewed shortly after the race started on Saturday afternoon.

Asked by infield reporter Andrew Marriott if he would have a ride for next May’s Indianapolis 500, Tracy said he would not because he was moving on and would do colour work for Sportsnet. “I’m joining you guys,” Tracy said, making specific reference to the race in Toronto.

Sportsnet took over the IndyCar series telecasts for 2013 after ex-series CEO Randy Bernard became disenchanted with TSN for not showing all the races live.

And like they do with Formula One telecasts, TSN just picked up the feed from whichever network had the IndyCar telecasts in the U.S. It gave up trying to “localize” coverage years ago and just went with whoever was in the booth.

With Tracy’s news, it looks like Sportsnet is planning to put some extra effort into covering Indy car racing and I think that’s terrific.

They couldn’t have picked a better talent than Tracy, either. He’s got a wickedly quick wit and an encyclopedia-like mind when it comes to strengths and weaknesses of all the drivers. And he knows the history of the sport.

Good stuff. Now we’ll await news of the play-by-play announcer (Brian Williams, perhaps?) and the pit reporter (I have an idea who that might be, too).

Here’s some other great news. You know how I (and others) reported recently that Michael Waltrip would be a guest of the Canadian Motorsports Expo on Sat., Feb. 9? Well, on Sun, Feb. 10, the one and only Kyle Busch will fly in to make an appearance that will include an autograph and question-and-answer session.

Busch is no stranger when it comes to racing in Canada, coming north several times over the years to compete at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal and at Delaware Speedway just outside of London.

The seventh annual Expo will be held at The International Centre, adjacent to Pearson International Airport, and will go from Friday night, Feb. 8th, through the Sunday afternoon.

For complete details of Waltrip and Busch’s appearances, as well as just about everything else the Expo has to offer, go to the show’s website at CanadianMotorsportsExpo.com

Talking about NASCAR, I’ve been thinking of the big social news of the off-season and that’s the romance involving Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

I wasn’t going to say anything about it but now I can’t resist.

While pondering the ramifications of this little liaison, I was reminded of a column that was written several years ago by Dave Argabright in National Speed Sport News. In it, Argabright wondered about what would have happened if Patrick had taken a swing at Ryan Briscoe after he put her out of the 2008 Indianapolis 500? If she hit him and he hit her back, Argabright argued, he’d be a bully. If he sat there and took it, he’d be a milquetoast. (She was headed off by security before there was any confrontation.)

So I’m thinking that she is now going to drive a full season in the Sprint Cup series and what happens if she pushes someone a la Jeff Gordon, or there’s a bench-clearing brawl as happened late last season between Gordon and Clint Bowyer’s pit crews?

I’m thinking that not only has she got a boyfriend, she’s got herself a bodyguard. She’s got somebody riding shotgun for her.

Because as much as they say that each of them is on their own when they’re racing, I think Stenhouse will protect her, which is only natural.

This will become a story before the season is over. You watch.

The ISMA supermodifieds will be racing at Sunset Speedway south of Barrie on Sunday, Aug. 18. The supers will run Delaware Speedway near London on Friday and Saturday nights and stop in at Sunset on the way home.

2012 champion Mike Lichty of Kitchener and steady campaigner Mark Sammut of London will be among those entered. Ex-NASCAR star Johnny Benson Jr. will also be there.

The Sunset website has a photo of the No. 70 super of Gary Morton of Stouffville. He only drives one race a year now – the Oswego Classic. The rest of the time he has Brampton’s Dave McKnight in the car. So will it be McKnight, or Morton? We’ll find out Aug. 18.

I know endurance racing is a team sport, and particularly so when a race is 24 hours long, but I think it’s too bad that Scott Pruett, who tied Hurley Haywood’s record of five Rolex 24 at Daytona victories at the weekend, wasn’t driving when the Chip Ganassi-owned car got the checkered flag Sunday afternoon.

And who, pray tell, was driving? We know it wasn’t Pruett, and I can tell you it wasn’t his regular partner, Memo Rojas, either. No, it was Juan Pablo Montoya, doing a one-off. and I really wonder how Pruett felt about it.

Oh, he had the requisite smile pasted on his face in Winner’s Circle, and he said all the right things, but I suggest he was disappointed and angry. As well he should be.

Of course, Ganassi probably wanted Montoya to win something because he can’t win anything in NASCAR, despite having great equipment provided by Ganassi.

In fact, maybe that was the deal. Ganassi gave him something to feel good about because sometime this season, he plans to give Juan Pablo the old pink slip if his NASCAR performances don’t improve substantially.

But Ganassi still owed something to Pruett for serving him so well over the years.

Wheels.ca’s Gary Grant, and photographer John Larsen, were in Daytona for the Rolex and did a great job Tweeting, Facebooking and posting to wheels.ca’s rolling blog all weekend.

But in case you missed their reporting, and didn’t see any of the race on Speed Channel, click here for full results. And click here for the results of the Continental Tire race that was held on Friday.

Finally, three-time F1 world champion Sebastien Vettel was awarded the Mario Andretti Trophy as the Speed Performer of the Year on last night’s edition of Speed Center.

NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski finished second in the voting and Kyle Larson, an open-wheel short-track standout, was third.

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