HILLIARD, OH . . . The power of the Ford-Cosworth XF engine was on display at Texas Motor Speedway last Saturday as the manufacturer claimed the top-four spots on the grid paced by Team Rahal's Kenny Brack who captured the pole with a lap of...
HILLIARD, OH . . . The power of the Ford-Cosworth XF engine was on display at Texas Motor Speedway last Saturday as the manufacturer claimed the top-four spots on the grid paced by Team Rahal's Kenny Brack who captured the pole with a lap of 233.447 mph. For Brack it was his second pole position of the 2001 season and his third front row start had the race been run. A faulty pop off valve kept Max Papis from qualifying at the front of the field after the Miller Lite car had turned laps in excess of 236 mph in the morning session.
After the first two months of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series there is little doubt that the package assembled last winter by Team Rahal is formidable. Following the 2000 season Bobby Rahal sensed a competitive advantage could be gained by switching from to the Lola chassis and teaming the B1/00 with the 2000 Manufacturer's Champion engine Ford-Cosworth. The results have been better than expected.
"I really thought it would take us more time to come to grips with how the car responds in situations," said Team Rahal Technical Coordinator Ray Leto. "Credit the race engineers and the drivers because they have done a tremendous job in learning the nuances of this car."
"When we made the switch we felt that the Lola chassis had an advantage on the ovals," said Mark Johnson Team Rahal's Director of Operations. "When we conducted our winter oval tests everything we had assumed about the car bore out. It allowed us to reduce our oval test schedule and focus on the road courses which directly benefited our efforts in the first two races."
"Ford-Cosworth has made significant strides with the engine," said Max Papis driver of Team Rahal's Miller Lite car. "The dedication of Ford to this engine program is unmatched in racing. To think that this engine is only in its second season and it has already captured a manufacturer's championship is quite an achievement. I have been part of a developmental program before and I can tell you that the dedication of Cosworth has accelerated the development of the XF engine."
BRACK LOOKING FOR ANOTHER NAZARETH PODIUM
As Kenny Brack begins his second tour of the CART tracks Nazareth stands out as the track where he earned his first Champ Car podium in 2000. "Coming back to the tracks a second time makes a big difference," said the 2000 CART Rookie of the Year. "Last season I spent the better part of Friday just getting used to the track and trying to get a feel on how the car would respond in certain situations. This year we pretty much are fine-tuning the car from the onset. That made a big difference in qualifying at Long Beach."
At Long Beach in 2001 Brack claimed a front row start and second overall on the grid compared with a seventh place start in 2000. Heading into Nazareth Brack is looking to improve on his sixth place start from 2000. "Overtaking is difficult at Nazareth so it is critical that we qualify well," said Brack. "We have been successful in qualifying through the first several races and hopefully we can continue that trend here this weekend."
PAPIS READY TO ENJOY SUCCESS AT NAZARETH
Max Papis comes to Nazareth looking to snap a streak of frustration on the one-mile oval in rural Pennsylvania. The last two seasons Papis has had a fast car but been frustrated by setbacks during the race to a fast competitive car.
"Nazareth is one of my favorite tracks," said Papis. "I feel it is the most exciting short oval track that we race on. It is a real challenge for the driver both mentally and physically. It is almost like driving on a road course except you are turning left all the time but with really fast corners. It is one of the more demanding races for a driver because you are always in traffic."
"We have been successful on the short ovals," said Papis. "The Miller Lite team knows what we must do to be successful on this kind of course. If we can avoid the nagging problems that have plagued us here in past we can have a very good weekend."