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Fortunately, both teams have enough familiar pieces in place to make Tracy comfortable.

With Reinbold’s team, Tracy is working with the same engineer he had last season. And with Penske’s team, Tracy is working with the same crew de Ferran Dragon Racing had for last year’s 500.

The owners, though, aren’t trading favors.

“We’re totally separate,” Reinbold said, referring to the possibility of sharing information. “We were looking at the possibility of doing other races with him, but on our end, we just couldn’t put that together, so we’re happy for him to have some additional opportunities.”

Race organizers should be thrilled to have Tracy’s polarizing personality back at the track, too.

Love him or hate him, he draws fans. And it’s hard to argue with success.

The former Champ Car titlist has 31 career wins and is tied with Sebastien Bourdais for the most wins among all active drivers. Bourdais is not one of the 40 drivers trying to make the 33-car starting grid for the May 29 race.

But it’s the win that got away which still fuels debate among 500 fans and makes Tracy bristle.

“I know what it feels like to win the race here, I know what it takes, I know the emotion of it,” Tracy said. “I just don’t have the hardware to prove it.”

After George’s ruling, Tracy stayed away from the track until 2009. He came back with KV Racing Technology, qualified 13th and finished ninth.

Last year was a debacle.

Running again with KV Racing, team officials yanked his four-lap qualifying time and told him to re-qualify the car on the final attempt of Bump Day. Tracy failed and he missed the race.

On Monday, he made it onto the track for the first time this month, turning 35 laps with his fastest being 223.780 mph _ 12th overall and more than 2 mph off the day’s best. Another Canadian, Alex Tagliani, went 225.878.

But that’s a better start than Tracy had last year.

“It was a huge disappointment, and I don’t want to go through that again,” Tracy said. “It was frustrating, that’s for sure, because the time we withdrew would have left me in the field. I was in line with 30 seconds to go, and they said ‘Go qualify.’”

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