CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Motegi preview

HILLIARD, OH . . . Kenny Brack has dominated the 2001 FedEx Championship Series leading a series high 153 laps and posting four front row qualifying efforts (2 poles-Texas & Mexico). Yet Brack finds himself just fifth in the season standings...

HILLIARD, OH . . . Kenny Brack has dominated the 2001 FedEx Championship Series leading a series high 153 laps and posting four front row qualifying efforts (2 poles-Texas & Mexico). Yet Brack finds himself just fifth in the season standings (29 points) with a second (Nazareth) and a fifth place (Mexico) results to show for his efforts. In Brack's view those results are nice but not why he is racing.

"I am still a surprised that we haven't won a race but I know our time will come," said Brack. "The entire team is coming together and that unified effort will put us over the top. It will take a lot of sweat and a lot of tears but we will get to the top step of the podium. Second place is just not acceptable."

Brack returns to Twin Ring Motegi for this week's Firestone Firehawk 500 (k) riding the momentum of an outstanding performance at Nazareth Speedway two weeks ago. Brack led 125 laps en route to his second consecutive podium finish at Nazareth.

At Motegi in 2000 Brack ran some of the fastest practice laps of the weekend and qualified second behind pole winner Juan Montoya. Brack and the Shell crew were forced to scramble to the back-up car when the engine expired in the primary car when Brack began his qualifying run. Left with a single qualifying lap Brack missed claiming the pole position by a tenth of a second. In the race Brack battled some handling problems but still brought the Shell car home in fifth place, one of his series leading nine top-five results in 2000.

"Motegi is a fantastic facility, one of the nicest tracks that we race at in CART," said Brack. "It is also a very challenging track one where you have to work to find the right set-up. I am confident going into the race that we have the right combination with the Ford-Cosworth and Lola to be successful."

Brack will be chasing his fifth straight front row qualifying effort, a Team Rahal record. The CART record for consecutive front row starts is held by Alex Zanardi who tallied eleven straight front row starts between the end of 1996 and the start of the 1997 season.

Nazareth proved to be another frustrating day at the track for Max Papis in the Miller Lite car when his race ended early due to a faulty shifter cable that left the car stuck in sixth gear.

Papis has seen more than his share of misfortune over the second half of 2000 and to start the 2001 season, but the personable Italian has maintained his positive outlook.

"It was frustrating because we had a good car at Nazareth but a mechanical problem ended our day," said Papis. "All we can do is refocus our energies and efforts and go to Motegi ready to race. Motegi is a spectacular facility and the track is almost a super speedway. The track requires good speed and good engine power and the long distance of the race [300 miles] makes us approach this race like we would Michigan or Fontana. We have had a great deal of success on the high speed tracks over the last couple of years so I am confident we can go to Japan and be competitive."

-Team Rahal

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Alex Zanardi , Kenny Brack