An interview with: Kenny Brack Part I John Procida: I'm glad to be here with you guys. Thank you for showing up today. Getting a little misty-eyed for the days when I used to do this every week for CART. We have Kenny Brack with us today.
An interview with: Kenny Brack
John Procida: I'm glad to be here with you guys. Thank you for showing up today. Getting a little misty-eyed for the days when I used to do this every week for CART.
We have Kenny Brack with us today. Obviously, Kenny is new to the Target Team for the 2002 season. He enters the year as the winningest driver from CART last year when he had four victories. Former IRL champion, former Indianapolis 500 champion, and we're hoping he can soon add the title of CART champion to him.
With that, other than saying hello to Kenny, any opening thoughts for today?
Kenny Brack: No. I think it's a good day to do an interview (laughter).
John Procida: Why don't we get underway then. Open it up for questions for Kenny.
Q Last year you came close to a title. Just tell me, I know it's unfair to ask you who is your competition, but talk a little bit maybe about Cristiano and others you think are going to be in the hunt for the title this year.
Kenny Brack: Well, you know, it's like always: it's always going to be a tough race. Hard to win races in CART. I believe there's nobody out there that's not competitive in this series. There's 20 first-class drivers with as many good cars and engines and stuff like that. So it's extremely difficult to win.
You know, in the beginning of the season like this, I guess no one really knows who's going to be the competition to beat. But I'd say that judging from testing and so forth, I think you're looking at Newman/Haas as a very strong team. I think you look at Team Players. Team Rahal, of course. I think you'd have to put ourselves in there, Team Target. I think that Team Green, you know, is strong.
There you have the teams I think that in my opinion will be the toughest. But, as I said, there's bound to be people and teams that going to come up and surprise everyone. We'll just have to wait and see.
Q How is it going in testing with Bruno? You've got to get used to a new team, got to get used to a new teammate? How did that work out?
Kenny Brack: I think it's going good. You know, we've been doing quite a few test days, both me and Bruno. It seems to work out fine so far. You know, I didn't expect us to be having boxing matches (laughter). You know, we're going forward and we're working together to develop the cars and the equipment we have.
Q Talk a little bit about the difference, you came from a different engine package last year to the Toyota this year. How is it different? How do you think the Toyota is better?
Kenny Brack: It's always tough to compare from one year to another. You know, we've had change in the regulations again, boost have been dropped, so forth. I feel we have a very strong engine package this year. I think Toyota is at the forefront when it comes to developing the engine that we have.
I think over the year, you'll see that, you know, the development will be done very rapidly. They spend enormous resources on developing the hard and the software. The new stuff that we have this year in traction control. They have a lot of technicians and a lot of skill to be able to develop that properly.
So I think we're looking good. The problem, of course, is that it's not only me and Bruno who's got the Toyota, it's nine, ten drivers (laughter). It's not like we have any advantage over the other team. We're pretty much in the same boat, you know, with a lot of other teams and drivers.
But still, I think the Toyota will be the engine to beat this year.
Q Have you had any time to practice with the traction control?
Kenny Brack: Yeah. We've done a couple of days so far, you know, since it was voted in that we going to use it. We're not at a stage right now, I don't think, where we have developed -- we've only scratched the surface of it so far. But, you know, the developments are underway now. I guess all the engine manufacturers are working very hard on getting it developed as rapid as possible.
Q Based on what you did last year, with Team Penske being gone now, should you in all right be considered the favorite for the title this season?
Kenny Brack: Excuse me, can you say that again?
Q Based on how you performed last year and with Team Penske no longer in the picture, based on that, should you be considered the early favorite for the title this season?
Kenny Brack: No. I never look at stuff that way. I look at it simply like prepare myself the best I can and, you know, working with the team to prepare ourselves the best we can. I'm with a great team in Team Target, Chip Ganassi. It's a fantastic team. They've got a lot of championships already. They have a lot of resources. The guys are really hungry.
But if you go out there thinking you're the favorite and, you know, "We're going to win this thing," that's end up like Sweden in the hockey game, when you lose when you don't expect to lose.
I think the thing is, I prepare myself that we're going to have to work the hardest to win this thing, and we'll see where we end up. But I think we have the same possibilities to win as the other major opponents in the championship.
Q A lot of Indy Racing League drivers and owners, they talk about their commitment to the IRL philosophy. I'm wondering if you could talk about some of the changes that have taken place in this past off-season and why you believe or don't believe in the direction that CART is going?
Kenny Brack: I believe in the direction CART is going. I think it's a great series. If you look at the on-track product, I believe you won't find another racing series in the world where you have as much competition and different tracks to race on. This is the series where the team and the driver, they've got to be good at four different type of tracks. It's extremely difficult to achieve that. Also when you're not allowed to test a lot, it's not an easy task.
As far as the political side of CART, I don't really know. I try not to get involved in that because it's something that simply doesn't win or lose me any races, you know. If you look at the -- if you focus on what CART is on the track, I think you see that it doesn't have any competitors really, if you look at it.
Q How would you classify some of the changes that have been made to the series for this season? Good changes? Bad changes? My understanding is that Chris Pook basically asked all the drivers what kind of changes they would like to see. Can you talk a little bit about that and why maybe this approach is a good approach?
Kenny Brack: Well, you never really know until you start running, because you sit down and you think of all the scenarios, this and that. But, you know, it doesn't matter how much you think. When you get in the race situation, there's always some amazing things that come up that you couldn't foresee.
The changes that they've made in terms that's going to affect, I think, the competitors. First of all, the qualifying format is different. I think it has a lot of merit. We'll have to wait and see till we've done a couple races what downsides, if any, there is to that system now.
But, sure, it's good for keeping the interest in the series because you going to have qualifying on Friday and qualifying on Saturday. It's going to be, you know, something for people to notice and write about.
As far as the, you know, fuel strategy or pit stop strategy, the differences from last year to this year, I think it's got merit, too. It's a good way to do it. If it's going to work out like everyone is thinking it's going to work out, we'll have to wait and see till a couple races into the season. But I think it's got merit.
You know, it's going to be more difficult for a back marker team to luck out with pit strategy. I'm sure there will be some kind of pit strategy involved anyway, but we just don't know to what extent yet.
I guess those are the two major things that we changed really.
Part II Brack interview