IRL: Phoenix: Team Rahal preview

Kenny Brack ready for fast PIR oval; recent testing has Swede confident for race. Team Rahal's Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda set for Brack's PIR return this week. GOODYEAR, Ariz. (March 18, 2003)--. Kenny Brack has unique memories of Phoenix ...

Kenny Brack ready for fast PIR oval; recent testing has Swede confident for race.
Team Rahal's Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda set for Brack's PIR return this week.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (March 18, 2003)--. Kenny Brack has unique memories of Phoenix International Raceway.

It was on the fast one-mile oval west of Phoenix where Brack made his Indy Racing League debut back in 1997. In fact, it was not just the Swede's debut in the new league but it was Brack's first attempt on an oval track.

And he made the most of that spectacular initial run.

"It was my first oval race and my first race with Galles Racing," said Brack, the 1998 IRL Indy Car Series champion. "Everything was new to me, but I was able to learn pretty quickly, and I was racing with Tony Stewart for the lead at the end of the race. I was leading Tony and I made a rookie mistake in Turn 3. I went too wide and got into the marbles and slid into the wall. But it was a good start."

Just a year and a half later Brack had proven he had learned his oval skills well by driving to the IRL championship and three victories.

Now Brack returns to the PIR track with one goal -- winning the race. Brack hasn't raced in Phoenix since 1999 but the 37-year-old blonde has put in plenty of testing miles on the mile.

"Actually, I like the Phoenix track," said Brack, who'll drive the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda/Dallara/Firestone car for Team Rahal in this weekend's Purex/Dial 200. "But I have hit the wall in each of the four corners over my years at Phoenix. I have to stop doing that. Phoenix is a real handling track because Turns 1 and 2 are so different from Turns 3 and 4. Turn 1 is one of the toughest corners we race on all year."

Brack led 24 laps in that first race at PIR in 1997 but that was just a glimpse of what the Team Rahal veteran was about to do on oval tracks. In his six seasons of U.S. open-wheel competition, Brack has won eight races, five poles and has led over 1,000 laps on ovals.

Of course, Brack's biggest oval triumph came in 1999 when he won the Indy 500.

After spending the past three seasons in CART, Brack returns to the IndyCar Series with new cars, new sponsors, new engines but a familiar team.

Brack was spectacular in his last year with Team Rahal in 2001 when he led the series in wins, poles and laps led. Now he hopes to return to his winning ways in 2003.

But Brack comes back to a series that looks much different from the one he left in 1999.

"This IRL series is much different from when I raced in 1999," said Brack. "Back in 1999, there were about six or seven cars that really could win a race. Now, in 2003, there are 17 or 18 cars and drivers that can race for the win on any weekend. The competition level has jumped dramatically. It will be a very tough series. But that is a good challenge for our team and myself."

Brack was excited to team up with Bobby Rahal and David Letterman's organization again.

"We had a very good run in CART," said Brack. "We came close to winning the championship in 2001 and we won a bunch of races. So when Bobby (Rahal) came to me about running in the IRL with Honda, I was very excited and I think we can win races with Bobby and Dave's team again."

Brack was disappointed in his 11th place showing earlier this month in Homestead, Fla., but he believes recent testing has improved his team's learning process with the new Dallara chassis.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Kenny Brack