Team Rahal driver Kenny Brack has had a strong start to his second season in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Brack scored his first CART pole position and led the race in Mexico en route to a fifth-place finish in Monterrey, Mexico, while Long...
Team Rahal driver Kenny Brack has had a strong start to his second season in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Brack scored his first CART pole position and led the race in Mexico en route to a fifth-place finish in Monterrey, Mexico, while Long Beach again saw Brack start from the front row (second) before a broken gearbox forced him to retire early. Factor in his two top-four finishes in the first two IROC races, and it's clear that Brack has had a tremendous start to the 2001 racing season. Although the Champ Cars will make their debut at the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, Brack will be making his sixth career appearance on the high-banked, 1.5-mile tri-oval. The defending CART Rookie of the Year raced five times there with the IRL from 1997 to 1999, posting top a finish of 3rd during the 1998 season. Brack was leading what would be his final IRL race at Texas in 1999 before a damaged wheel bearing forced him from the race, costing him the series' championship.
KENNY BRACK --8-- Shell Ford-Cosworth -
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SEASON THUS FAR? YOU HAD TO BE DISAPPOINTED WITH YOUR EARLY RETIREMENT AT LONG BEACH, BUT ARE YOU OTHERWISE SATISFIED WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE THROUGH THE FIRST TWO RACES?
"I think it's been a tremendous start to this season. First of all, I finished fourth in the IROC race in Daytona, which is pretty good, I had a second-place finish this weekend in Talladega, and in CART we sat on the pole in Mexico and led the race, although we had some technical stuff go wrong for us. In Long Beach we sat on the front row again and ran second before we encountered more technical problems, but we've been very competitive. You can't say you've won a race until you've actually done it, but we've been right there in most of the races we've run this year. Team Rahal has really made a lot of improvements and I think we've shown that we have everything we need to win races. I think with our technical expertise, Ford's commitment to our program and with the development of the Lola, I'm looking forward to going into the oval season. I hope I'm not disappointed, but I feel in my gut that we should be strong on the ovals."
WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THE RACE AT THE TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY?
"I think the drivers will like Texas. It's a high-banked track and it's a lot of fun running on the banking because you can take different lines. My experience from that track is using multiple lines and grooves with lots of opportunities for overtaking. It's generally a nice place too. The facility is first-class, and I very much like that place. Now there's a couple of bumps on the track that may, or may not, upset the cars but they've run open-wheeled cars at similar speeds that we're going to run with great success. It may be a little bit uncomfortable if the bumps are still there, but I don't think it should be too much of a problem."
YOU'VE TESTED AT TEXAS IN A CHAMP CAR AND HAVE RACED THERE IN AN IRL CAR. HOW DIFFERENT DOES IT FEEL FROM ONE CAR TO THE OTHER?
"My experience in the IRL was when we had four-liter engines and we had quite a bit of power then, so I think the cars feel very similar around there when you are running on your own. If you look at a racing situation, I'm not sure that we're going to be able to run with 12 cars all bunched up like the IRL had last year because we have different downforce rules. I expect the race to be similar to what I experienced in the IRL except that we'll have two or three cars trying to dice with each other. I expect there to be a couple of lines around the track where you can run so there'll probably be some wheel-to-wheel and side-by-side racing. But I think us, as drivers, have to approach a track like this a little differently from other places we've run because, first of all, it's a smaller track than Michigan or Fontana where we do a lot of dicing. It's 1.5-mile track with a high bank and a couple of doglegs on the front straightaway which look pretty easy from the outside. They're not really bad to drive when you're on your own, but when you've got two or three cars going side-by-side through there you have to think about it a little bit so that you leave each other enough room."
ARE YOU AND THE REST OF THE TEAM HEADING TO THE RACE IN TEXAS FEELING CONFIDENT THAT YOU CAN RUN WELL THERE?
"I think that during the winter we thought our road racing package was okay but that we needed to work a lot on that, although we thought we had a really good package on the ovals. Judging from the first two races, we didn't win one of them but we were clearly, in Mexico, we were the class of the field. We had some electronic glitches there and a brake problem and in Long Beach we had something break in the gearbox, but we've been very competitive. I think that we all feel within the team that we have the package for the ovals. That's been the least of our worries actually, so we'll see this weekend, but I feel good about it."
WITH THE AERODYNAMIC RULES CURRENTLY IN CART, CAN YOU DOMINATE A RACE? AT TEXAS IS IT POSSIBLE TO PULL AWAY FROM EVERYBODY?
"I guess it's possible, but it's unlikely. I guess it's possible, I mean (Max) Papis did it a couple of years ago at Michigan, so I guess it's possible and anything can happen. But I don't think it's very likely that someone will do that."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE ANY KIND OF AN ADVANTAGE OVER THE REST OF THE FIELD BECAUSE YOU HAVE COMPETED AT TEXAS IN THE PAST?
"Texas is not a very tough track to learn because of the high banks, so I don't think having been there (in the past) is a tremendous advantage, but to me it is because this is the first track that we go to that I don't have a disadvantage. I mean Long Beach really was because I was on equal terms with everyone else, but I spent all of last year learning the track on Friday and now I don't have to do that. We can go to Texas now with a little bit of an idea what it's going to be like. I don't think it's going to be a great advantage, but I really think it's going to be good because we aren't going to be at a disadvantage."
THERE HAVE BEEN SOME RECENT MEDIA REPORTS QUESTIONING THE SAFETY OF THE TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY FOR CHAMP CARS. HAS SOME OF THAT TALK BEEN OVERBLOWN?
"I could be wrong, but I feel that there's not going to be any more problems there than what we have at other oval tracks. We run 240 miles per hour at Fontana. We'll run, I don't know, 220 or 225 around Texas, maybe a little higher if you get a good tow on your lap. It's strange because it seems like all the drivers in CART have this apprehension about going there, but I don't feel that way. I feel it's going to be okay and I look forward to it. It's going to be a racy track, which is something that CART needs. We need more shows like we have at Michigan and Fontana. I mean we can't be running around Milwaukee on the line like we do, although I know that the wing package is partly to blame for that, but that's the way it is. I think Texas will provide us with enough racing room for maneuvering and overtaking, which will be exciting for the fans, good for CART and good for the drivers as long as the drivers understand that this is a track that's a little different from what we've been running before, which you have to consider every time you go to a new track. You have to assess what kind of track it is, how you run it and what needs to be done there. I don't see any problems at Texas that I don't see in Fontana or Michigan."
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TRACK AT TEXAS?
"It's really important that all the drivers think about how the track is laid out because there's going to be side-by-side racing through the doglegs, I'm pretty sure about that, so you have to make room for other drivers. That's not the place to block, that I can tell you that right now. If it's anything like I project it to be, I think coming off (Turn) Four, coming off (Turn) Two, going into (Turn) One, going into (Turn) Three, it's all going to be possible to do overtaking maneuvers. Obviously you have to watch coming off the corners a little bit because when you come off the high banking you have to estimate what the car's going to do when you lose the banking, but traditionally it's been a very good track for open-wheeled racers. NASCAR had quite a problem the first year they went there because they didn't have enough downforce on the front so when they came down off the banking the car started to oversteer. They corrected that on the track after that, but even then we never had any problems in the IRL cars."