HOMESTEAD - CART champion Paul Tracy said he would love to drive on the Winston Cup circuit, but he doesn't think his chance will come next year. Richard Childress hopes it does, but said he would "cross that bridge when we come to it."
As far as Tracy knows, he said, CART's proposed buyout by Open Wheel Racing will be completed in time to save the series, and he plans to honor his contract with Forsythe Racing through its final year in 2004 if it does. Team owner Gerald Forsythe is one of the main investors in Open Wheel Racing.
"I feel like there will be a series next year from what I'm hearing from my boss," said Tracy, attending his first NASCAR races this weekend on a Ford champions tour. "There's a schedule out and it looks good."
Tracy's presence in the garage area piqued curiousity that he and other Champ Car drivers might be looking for employment since CART announced it would run out of money and cease operations if the deal was not completed in mid December.
As one of the most successful and recognized drivers in the world, Tracy would not have to make contingency plans as much as peruse offers. He doesn't think converting to stock cars would be difficult.
Childress said he would like to sign Tracy for his team.
"There's a good chance of it," Childress said. "We spoke (Saturday). I'd like to see how he does in one. The first thing we have to do is set up a chance."
Childress said no plans have been made for a test in one of his Chevrolets.
Tracy would seemingly be the perfect Winston Cup fit for an owner who enjoys feisty competitors such as current drivers Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon.
"I think he's the perfect combination," Childress said. "He's a great driver and a great personality."
FIGHTIN' COUSINS: Tune in to the in-race radio conversations between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his crew and you would think he and car chief Tony Eury Jr. hate each other. The tone and the content swings from testy to vicious and contains a fair amount of profanity. But the juniors are cousins and as close as brothers.
"You can say Warren Sapp is cocky and a smart (aleck), but he doesn't want any slacking off and that's how we are," Eury Jr. said. "When something messes up, we get a little bit of an attitude and that's how we get it done."
SPARK PLUGS: Ryan Newman led the Winston Cup "Happy Hour" session on Saturday with a best lap of 178.247 mph. Ward Burton was next at 177.299. ... Before Brian Vickers (20 years, 23 days) won the Busch Series title on Saturday, Rob Moroso was the youngest, winning the 1989 title at age 21. Bill Rexford is the next-youngest to win a title in one of NASCAR's three touring divisions at 23 years, 8 months. ... Vickers' final points margin is the second-smallest in Busch history. Lakeland's Joe Nemechek beat Bobby Labonte by three points for the 1992 title. ... David Stremme clinched the Busch rookie of the year award with a 14th-place finish. ... Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel will feature an interview between host Dave Despain and animated character Speed Racer at 8 p.m. Monday.
The cartoon character will be featured on the hood of Tony Raines' No. 74 Chevrolet today in the Ford 400.