CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Fontana "Track Talk" preview

Brack And Papis Focus On Million Dollar Prize At Fontana HILLIARD, OHIO . . . The fight for the 2001 CART championship is over but one challenge remains for Team Rahal drivers Kenny Brack and Max Papis, the season ending Champ Car event, The...

Brack And Papis Focus On Million Dollar Prize At Fontana

HILLIARD, OHIO . . . The fight for the 2001 CART championship is over but one challenge remains for Team Rahal drivers Kenny Brack and Max Papis, the season ending Champ Car event, The 500, at the California Speedway. Not only does will the winner of Sunday's race (3:30 PM EST on ESPN) conquer one of the greatest challenges in Champ Car racing by winning a 500-mile race, but the winner will also claim a million dollars for the victory.

For Kenny Brack a win on Sunday would be a brilliant final chapter in his dominating 2001 season. Brack leads the series in wins (4), pole positions (6) and laps led (621) yet he will finish second in the CART championship, a position he secured in Australia. Brack looks to finish one of the most dominating oval racing seasons in CART history. In seven oval starts in 2001 Brack has four wins and a pair of runner-up results. His only DNF on an oval came at Michigan where Brack and teammate Max Papis dominated the race but both failed to finish due to contact.

"The Ford-Cosworth/Lola package has been the package to have on the ovals this season," said Brack. "The package has been competitive everywhere but on the oval tracks it has been special. We are focused on finishing the season on a high note. We have accomplished a lot this season and to win the finale and take home the million-dollar prize."

Papis has led 371 laps in the last five super speedway (Michigan and Fontana) events, more than any other driver in CART. Michael Andretti is next with 154 laps led. Although Papis has led more laps his highest finish on a super speedway was a second at Fontana in 1999. Papis was denied a victory at Michigan in 1999 when his car ran out of fuel on the last lap and mechanical troubles thwarted his efforts at Michigan and Fontana in 2000. At Michigan this year Papis qualified second and led a race high 83 lap. His day ended due to contact while he was running at the front of the field.

"The 500-mile race is a very unique American race," said Papis. "It is truly special event, one that I have worked very hard to try and master. A win at Fontana on Sunday would give the Miller team three wins for the year and would give Team Rahal seven wins for the year. We still have a chance to finish sixth in the championship and that would be a great accomplishment considering all the problems that we faced earlier in the season."

Team Rahal has enjoyed the finest season in the team's ten-year CART history by collecting a series leading six wins, seven pole positions and a series best 789 laps led. The 2001 win total has nearly doubled the total number of wins in team history (13 total).

Team Rahal Looks For Another Super Speedway Front Row Sweep

The 2001 season has been a banner year for Team Rahal and among the highlights was a front row sweep at Michigan. The Michigan 500 grid was set on practice times due to weather and Kenny Brack and Max Papis were awarded the front row based on their chart toping practice speeds. The front row start was the second in Team Rahal history. The previous all front row start for Team Rahal came at Long Beach in 1998 when Bryan Herta and Bobby Rahal claimed the top-two spots in qualifying.

Shell Crew Finalists in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge

One of the key ingredients in Kenny Brack's 2001 championship bid has been the performance of his pit crew led by chief mechanic Ricardo Nault. The Shell pit crew will be one of the five finalists in the 2001 Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge, which will be held Saturday afternoon at The California Speedway. The Shell crew will contend for the $50,000 first prize against the Team Penske crew's of Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves, Oriol Seriva's Sigma crew and Mauricio Gugelmin's PacWest pit crew.

"Racing is a team sport and my pit crew has been instrumental in the success that we have enjoyed this season," said Brack. "Week in and week out they have consistently turned in stellar pit stops and gained us position on track. I am glad we will have a chance to prove how good they are on Saturday and hopefully we can put some more prize money in their pockets."

The Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge is a season long event which awards points to the CART pit crews based on their cumulative pit stop times at each event. The Shell crew finished third in the points advancing to the shootout at Fontana.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack
Teams Team Penske