Kenny Brack, driver of the No. 8 Shell Ford-Cosworth for Team Rahal, has experienced a great deal of success in just his first season in the CART FedEx Championship Series. After two successful seasons racing in the Indy Racing League (IRL) where...
Kenny Brack, driver of the No. 8 Shell Ford-Cosworth for Team Rahal, has experienced a great deal of success in just his first season in the CART FedEx Championship Series. After two successful seasons racing in the Indy Racing League (IRL) where he captured the 1998 season championship and the 1999 Indianapolis 500, the rookie driver has posted three podium finishes this season, including a career-best second in Cleveland, and has scored championship points in 13 of 18 races. Having already clinched the Jim Trueman "Rookie of the Year" award with a 58-point lead over Oriol Servia with two races remaining, Brack currently stands seventh in the chase for the CART drivers' championship. Heading into the second-to-last CART event of the season in Australia, Brack reflects on his first season in CART, the differences between competing in CART and the IRL and the role Team Rahal has played in his success this season.
KENNY BRACK --8-- Shell Ford-Cosworth -- WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SEASON THUS FAR? "It's been a good season, but we've fallen off in the last couple of races and we're going to try and get back into our previous form. That's what we're going to be working on very hard for the last two races."
HOW DIFFICULT HAS IT BEEN TO COMPETE IN CART AS OPPOSED TO THE IRL, AND WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE AS A DRIVER BETWEEN A CHAMP CAR AND AN IRL CAR? "Well the biggest difference is that the Champ Car is much more technically challenging. There are many more open rules regulations, which puts greater emphasis on the teams to always develop the car aerodynamically. They must spend a lot of time in the wind tunnel to come up with bits and pieces that make the car faster and all kinds of things, so it requires a lot from the team. If you drive a CART car on an oval and a IRL car on an oval, there's not a great deal of difference from a driver's standpoint -- you still have the steering wheel, a gear knob and the throttle pedal."
WHAT WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS HEADING INTO THIS SEASON? "To run competitively and hopefully win a race."
DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE A CONTENDER FOR THE SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP IN YOUR ROOKIE SEASON? "No, I didn't think of it that way in my first year. I don't know how anyone could think of that in their first year racing any series because you don't know your opponents, you don't know the tracks and you don't know the cars. Yeah, you know you're a fast driver, you know you're with a good team, but still, there are too many unknowns to predict anything like that. Of course, it's been a positive experience to be in this position, but there's nothing I had as a goal in the beginning of the season."
WHICH DO YOU PREFER, RACING ON OVALS OR RACING ON ROAD AND STREET TRACKS? "Well, I enjoy oval racing and road course racing probably more than street course racing because of the fact you can overtake on oval racing, normally, and you can overtake on a road course, normally. On street courses, it's very difficult to overtake because they're usually narrow and tight and these cars are difficult to drive around places like that and they require a certain amount of space and usually it's very, very tight to try and overtake somebody."
ARE YOU JUST AS COMFORTABLE RACING ON ROAD AND STREET COURSES AS YOU ARE ON OVALS, AND ARE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW WELL YOU'VE ADJUSTED TO THE TRACKS YOU'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE, PARTICULARLY THE STREET CIRCUITS? "New tracks are always a big problem, especially if you come into a situation where all the other drivers have been there before and you haven't, because you only have a limited time to familiarize yourself with the track. And during that time, you also have to try to give your team some information on how to set the car up and stuff like that, so the first time on a track is always very difficult. You never really know until afterwards if you took to the track or not, but we've been very fortunate in that we've managed to run well at nearly every place we've been to and that's very, very good."
HOW IMPORTANT HAS YOUR ENGINEER, DON HALLIDAY, BEEN TO YOUR SUCCESS THIS SEASON? "Without a skilled engineer you go nowhere in a series like CART. But teamwork is also very important. The engineer coordinates all the other forces within the team, like the aerodynamicists, the shop guys and the technicians that work on the cars. He's the head of everything, so to speak, and he's the one who decides the set up with the springs, shocks and ride heights and things like that. But he leads a group of technicians in doing that, and without a good engineer it's impossible to find success in CART. He's very, very important, but the whole team is important as well."
HOW HAS BOBBY RAHAL HELPED YOU THIS SEASON AND HAS HIS ABSENCE AFFECTED YOU IN ANY WAY? "Bobby has a great deal of experience on these courses and I always ask him what to look for on the tracks, and that is invaluable information because experience is everything in a series like this or any series for that matter. I take that information and put it into my own little bag so when I go on the track I have it in the back of my head to guide me in the right direction, basically, so that's been very helpful. I don't think Bobby's absence has affected us in the short term, and he's been around the paddock at all the races so I've always felt that if there's been anything I needed to ask him he's been somewhere we could find him to get his advice. Is it going to affect us next year with him not being here? I don't know. I don't think so because (general manager) Scott Roembke has been leading the team most of this year and is going to lead it again next year, so I don't think it's going to affect us. But obviously when a new situation arises there's always an unsure feeling about what really is going to happen, and I guess I feel that, but I will give my 100 percent and I'm sure that the team will do that too and I hope that everything will be okay."