CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Cleveland preview

HILLIARD, OH . . . The last month has been a dream for Team Rahal. It all started with Kenny Brack's first CART win at Motegi and continued with Brack's second win at Milwaukee. The team left Detroit with a pair of points paying results and then...

HILLIARD, OH . . . The last month has been a dream for Team Rahal. It all started with Kenny Brack's first CART win at Motegi and continued with Brack's second win at Milwaukee. The team left Detroit with a pair of points paying results and then Max Papis battled the elements and the grid and captured the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway.

That is three wins in the last four races and victories for both drivers in the same season for the first time in team history. A quick review of the CART points standings shows Brack leading the points and holding a seven point lead over second place Helio Castroneves. Papis on the strength of four consecutive points paying results and a perfect 22 point weekend at Portland has climbed to 11th in the points with 38.

Papis certainly brings momentum to Cleveland having put together his longest point streak since the 1999 season when he scored points in four straight races to end the season. That four race point run propelled Papis to fifth in the CART points and to a spot on the inaugural CART All-Star team. This point streak has propelled Papis back into the title hunt. "We showed the depth and the strength of the Miller Lite team last week at Portland," said Papis. "We have persevered through some tough times and now we are starting to see the payoff for all the hard work. We capitalized on our track position and stayed out of trouble at the front at Portland. The Ford-Cosworth engine and the Lola chassis has proven to be a competitive combination and we know that we have a package that will allow us to be competitive week in and week out."

Kenny Brack has posted points in five straight races and has held the points lead since winning at Motegi May 19th. "We had success at Cleveland last year so we know we are coming to a track where we have some confidence. This is a tough stretch of the season for all of the drives and the teams with the three races in three weeks. Since Cleveland is basically a home race for Team Rahal, I hope that can give us an advantage. We know the fans will be supporting us and that a lot of the friend and family members of the team will be coming to the race. I hope we can give them something to shout about."

Team Rahal owner Bobby Rahal, a Medina, Ohio native, will miss this week's Cleveland Grand Prix as he will be at the Formula 1 race in France. This marks the first time since Rahal won inaugural Cleveland Grand Prix in 1982 that he hasn't been at the Cleveland Grand Prix. "Cleveland is one of the events that is truly special on the CART schedule, and this is a difficult race for me personally to miss" said Rahal. "The fans of northern-Ohio have always been great supporters of CART and have been especially supportive of Team Rahal over the years. The Cleveland race has always been a special event in my life and I will be closely following the events and how Max and Kenny are doing this weekend."

CART points leader Kenny Brack comes to Cleveland looking for a return to the podium after a two race absence. Brack has posted five consecutive points paying results, the second best points streak of his CART career, and has a seven point lead over Helio Castroneves in the championship.

Both of Brack's wins this season have come on ovals (Twin Ring Motegi, Milwaukee) and now the Shell driver wants to win a road event. "Having grown up racing on the road courses of Europe I have always thought of myself as a road racer, but over the last five years having run the IRL and then in CART I have gotten a label of being an oval specialist. That is rather funny considering that when I came to the US to run the IRL in 1997 I was labeled a road racer. I love the challenge of the road and street courses and I am looking forward to winning my first CART road race. We have been close on a couple of occasions but it will come sooner or later."

Of Brack's four podium appearances in 2000 three came on road or street courses (Cleveland, Elkhart Lake, Australia). In fact Brack registered more points on the street courses in 2000 than on the ovals.

"We had an up and down weekend at Cleveland in 2000 but race day was a strong performance and I hope we can pick up where we left off last year and be a force this weekend. The track is bumpy but it is very wide and that gives us ample chances to pass other cars and to race with the opposition. We started 16th here last season after some qualifying problems but we were able to move through the field. We are always looking to improve when we go back to a track and the only way we will improve our results here at Cleveland is to win the race."

Kenny Brack's Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola Champ Car will sport a slightly different livery over the next month as Shell launches "LEGO 2" a national summer promotion at Shell stations across the United States. From July 2nd to August 5th, Shell customers will have access to an exclusive LEGO toy offering from participating Shell stations.

Brack's car will showcase the promotion by featuring images of some of the collectable cars on the Shell Champ Car.

The first LEGO promotion ran last December and was a popular promotion with Shell customers across the United States.

-Team Rahal

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Kenny Brack