HILLIARD, OH . . . After running four straight events on road and street courses the CART FedEx Championship Series returns to the oval tracks this week with a stop at Michigan International Raceway for Sunday's Harrah's 500 (1:00 PM EDT...
HILLIARD, OH . . . After running four straight events on road and street courses the CART FedEx Championship Series returns to the oval tracks this week with a stop at Michigan International Raceway for Sunday's Harrah's 500 (1:00 PM EDT ESPN).
Team Rahal Shell driver Kenny Brack took the CART FedEx Championship Series lead on an oval at Twin Ring Motegi on May 19th with a victory in the Firestone Firehawk 500. Brack followed that triumph with another victory in the Miller Lite 225 June 3rd at the Milwaukee Mile. Brack has held the CART championship lead for two months (six races) and now as the season reaches the half-way mark each race looms larger.
Brack comes to MIS for with three consecutive podium appearances on oval tracks and consecutive wins on ovals.
"We certainly have had some success on the ovals this season, but this series is so competitive that there is no guarantee that we will be as successful this weekend," said Brack. "We know the Lola/Ford-Cosworth combination is an effective package for these kind of tracks. The key to success this weekend is keeping your equipment working. A 500-mile race are as much about surviving the attrition as it is about racing. The key for us is to stay on the lead lap and get to the last 100 miles and then it is time to race for the lead."
Brack is coming off his second DNF of the season which came at Toronto due to an electrical problem in the car. Brack has finished seven of the nine races this season and has only failed to score championship points in the two DNF's. "DNF's really hurt a championship bid," said the 2000 CART Rookie of the Year. "We were fortunate at Toronto that the other championship leaders also posted DNF's, but that is not something you can bank on from week to week. "
MIS has been the site of two heartbreaking finishes for Miller Lite driver Max Papis. In 1999 Papis was on his way to his inaugural Champ Car victory when the Miller Lite car ran out of fuel on the last lap. Papis who had led 143 of 250 laps settled for seventh as his car coasted across the line. In 2000 Papis was running third with three laps left when his car ran out of oil and his engine expired leaving him ninth.
"Racing at MIS is special because of the great history of Champ Cars at the track," said Papis. "The 500-mile race is a very American event and we have had some success the last couple of years running at the front. However we haven't been able to bring the car home due to the fuel and the oil troubles, even though we deserved better. I know my crew and I will give our best effort to win this week. Nothing is ever owed to you in racing but I do feel we are due for a break at MIS."
Papis has led in the each of the last four 500-mile events in CART (MIS & Fontana 1999 & 2000) and therefore he has acquired a reputation as one of the drivers to beat on the super speedways. "You never really feel comfortable at a super speedway just because of the nature of the track and the sheer speed. I have learned this very American way of racing. I took my skills from endurance racing and road racing and applied them in a very difficult and long race. I have no special affinity for the super speedways but if you get a great car in a 500-mile race you can have a lot of fun."