CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Detroit preview

BRÄCK SEEKS THREE REPEAT IN DETROIT; PAPIS PREPARED TO IMPROVE 2000 MOTOWN FINISH KENNY BRÄCK NOW THE HUNTED ON THE CART FEDEX TRAIL: Shell driver Kenny Brack isn't looking in the rearview mirror right now. The 35-year-old Swede ...



KENNY BRÄCK NOW THE HUNTED ON THE CART FEDEX TRAIL: Shell driver Kenny Brack isn't looking in the rearview mirror right now. The 35-year-old Swede knows everyone on the CART FedEx Championship Series is looking up at him. That's what happens when you capture two consecutive races and hold a commanding lead in the series point standings. Team Rahal's driver of the Shell Ford Lola has proven that last year's Jim Trueman "Rookie of the Year" title was no flute. In fact, Brack has recorded three poles, two wins, one second and fifth in five races this year and has led 10 times for 358 laps. The most recent victory in the Miller Lite 225 at the Milwaukee Mile was a sensational battle with five-time race winner Michael Andretti. Two weeks earlier, Brack continued Ford's domination at Honda's home track in Motegi, Japan. The two CART wins have vaulted Brack into a 23-point lead on the CART trail entering this week's (June 15-17) Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle. In addition, on that six-week swing, Brack had won the pole at the now-cancelled Texas Motor Speedway event (over 233 miles per hour) and finished second in a spectacular come-from-behind drive at Nazareth. Just to add to his impressive streak, Brack finished second in the IROC event at Talladega, Ala, and third last week in the IROC race in Brooklyn Mich. "I'm weary of losing focus right now," said Brack this week. "If you stop developing, we can get behind in this sport. We can't lose focus. We have a good energy within in the team and you want to keep that going. We just can't look back right now. We have to look ahead. We have a good car, good team, good pit stops, good engineering and good pit strategy. Now we need to make minor adjustments to improve. It's fun when you are running well. Last year, with my first CART year, we had to work on big stuff like learning the tracks and the team. This year, we are working on little stuff. That's the big difference this season. We are ready for Detroit."

BRÄCK WAS SURPRISED WITH NEW LOLA ON ROADS: Brack admits that he was concerned about the new Lola chassis entering the 2001 season. "We had a little trouble getting everything developed on the road courses in testing," Kenny explained. "So I was surprised when we won the pole at Mexico (the season opener). But we have found a good foundation with the Lola. Lola is different than last year's car (Reynard). Team Rahal had Reynards for five years. Now we had to learn a new car again."

PAPIS SET FOR ANOTHER DETROIT PODIUM: Miller Lite driver Max Papis is excited about returning to Belle Isle this week. Last year, Papis nearly caught Detroit winner Helio Castroneves late in the race but had to settle for second. "I have always liked the Belle Isle track," said Papis. "Sure it's tight and it's tough to pass but that's part of our racing. I'd like to come back and win that race after finishing second last year. I thought I might have had a shot at Helio with a few more laps." `Mad Max' was the provisional pole winner (on Friday) in 1998 at Belle Isle in the developmental Toyota engine before coming to Team Rahal in 1999.

PAPIS TALKS SAFETY WITH 300 KIDS AT LIVONIA YMCA: Papis will be the featured speaker this Thursday (June 14) at 12 noon at the Livonia, Mich., YMCA in the CART Wheels For Kids program that features CART drivers discussing safety and driving to youngsters in various race markets. In the series developed by CART, Ford and Shell Oil, Papis will meet over 300 children (ages 5-11) Thursday in a two-hour program that includes racing video, kids activity packets and a close-up viewing an actual Champ Car. "I am thrilled to work with children on this safety program," said Papis. "As a racing driver, I feel good about showing young people the proper way to approach driving and safety. We'll talk about helmets, equipment and other stuff that I hope they use now even in bicycling, skateboarding and roller blading and later in driving cars on the street. I can show the children a real race car up close."

BRACK TO JOIN LATE SHOW BAND NEXT TUESDAY: Kenny Brack has been playing the guitar since he was eleven years old. While mostly for relaxation, Brack has developed his skills to point that he has performed at various functions in recent years including the annual CART charity event, Runway Madness, at Fontana. Now, the current CART point leader will be making his biggest "gig" yet on Tuesday, June 19, when he will sit in with Paul Shaffer's "Late Show Band" on the CBS-TV "Late Show with David Letterman" television program. Obviously, Letterman, one of Brack's team owner, had a little pull in this performance but Brack is hoping to start up a new band in the future with some of his CART drivers. "It sounds like a lot of fun," said Brack. "But I have to assure Paul Shaffer I'm not a real performer. I think I'll just play a little background ­ that would be fine. The Late Show people asked me what kind of music I play and I said rock and roll and blues. I just like to play things I feel comfortable with."

BIFF HENDERSON OF THE LATE SHOW COMES TO BELLE ISLE: Letterman sidekick and stage manager Biff Henderson will bring a video crew to the Detroit Grand Prix this weekend. Henderson, who has attended the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and other major events, will get a behind-the-scenes view of CART and Champ Car racing for his unusual on- site skits that are part of Letterman's openings on the CBS-TV late night show.

RAHAL KEEPS BUSY BUT WILL MAKE DETROIT THIS WEEK: Co-owners Bobby Rahal, who celebrated in victory lane at Milwaukee with Brack, will make another appearance on the CART tour in Detroit. Last week, Rahal's Jaguar F-1 team raced at Montreal and his driver Pedro de la Rosa finished sixth. This race will mark Rahal's four of the CART season (Mexico, Long Beach, Milwaukee and Detroit). He plans to attend several more CART races for the remainder of the 2001 campaign. Rahal was named interim CEO and president of CART last year at Detroit. Now, he is Jaguar F-1 Racing and Team Rahal CEO.


                                                Kenny Brack     Max Papis
Date            Site                            Start/Finish    Start/Finish
March 11        Monterrey, Mexico (Road)        1/5             11/12
April 8         Long Beach, Calif. (Road)       2/25 (Rearend)  13/17 (Rear Wing)
April 29        Ft. Worth, Texas (Oval)         1/ (Postponed)  17 (Pop Off Value)
May 6           Nazareth, Pa. (Oval)            2/2             14/24 (Shifter)
May 19          Motegi, Japan (Oval)            6/1             17/6
June 3          Milwaukee, Wis. (Oval)          1/1             13/8

-Team Rahal-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Kenny Brack