CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Michigan preview

KENNY BRÄCK COMES TO MICHIGAN AS THE SERIES OVAL MASTER: Kenny Brack never drove an oval track until 1997 and he led his very first oval race (Phoenix IRL). The current CART point leader grew up racing on road circuits but his 2001 records would...

KENNY BRÄCK COMES TO MICHIGAN AS THE SERIES OVAL MASTER: Kenny Brack never drove an oval track until 1997 and he led his very first oval race (Phoenix IRL). The current CART point leader grew up racing on road circuits but his 2001 records would prove otherwise. The driver of the No. 8 Shell Ford Lola has been the dominant force on the oval tracks this year recording two wins (Japan and Milwaukee), two poles (Texas and Milwaukee) and leading 330 of his series-best 359 laps led. Now, the 35-year-old Swede returns to Michigan International Speedway this Sunday as the prime contender to capture the first 500-miler on the 2001 CART tour. Last year, in his rookie performance at MIS, Brack was sensational moving from 10th to first in just 10 laps and battled for the lead before being hit by Christian Fittipaldi on the back straightaway. Then, in the season finale at Fontana, Brack led the most laps before a turbocharger let go. "I thought we had one of the best superspeedway cars in the series last year," said Brack, who leads Michael Andretti by 11 points entering this weekend's Michigan 500. "Unfortunately we never saw the checkered flag. I hope to change that record at Michigan. The Lola is a very good oval car and we know that the Ford engine has lots of horsepower. Now we have to complete 250 laps and we should be right in the hunt for the win. However, a lot of things can happen in 500-mile race." Brack should know. He captured the 1999 Indy 500 in his last appearance at the Brickyard. "The thing about a 500-mile race is patience," explained Brack. "Both A.J. (Foyt) and Bobby (Rahal) have won 500-milers over their careers and they both have talked to me about being patient in these long races. I think our Team Rahal guys know what it takes to win these long ones. Our general manager Scott Roembke has won them, my engineer Don Halliday has won them and Max (Papis, Brack's teammate) should have won at Michigan two years ago. So I think our team is ready."

PAPIS BELIEVES MIS OWES HIM ONE THIS TIME AROUND: Max Papis could see the checkered flag flying for him at Michigan in 1999. Just 12 more ounces of fuel and Papis would have captured his first CART event, the Michigan 500. But the script wasn't written for "Mad Max" that day as his Miller Lite machine grasped for fuel in turn three and coasted to a stop just past the finish line. A seventh place finish never showed the dominance that Papis had that day, leading 143 laps and running away from the field in that race that saw 30 lead changes. "God just didn't want me to win that day," said Papis "But I felt good because we dominated the race. I knew I could win races and I knew the Miller Lite team could win. I always thought I would win my first CART race on a road circuit since my background is road racing in Europe. So to come so close at Michigan on the oval in 1999 and then win at Miami last year is very special. That's because ovals are American-style racing. And having a European driver win on an oval is unexpected. I still think MIS owes me one though."

TEAM RAHAL LEADS CART SERIES IN MANY CATEGORIES: While Team Penske might have stolen some headlines last year and early in 2001, it is Team Rahal that has jumped to the forefront on the CART FedEx Championship and the stats don't lie. With Brack leading the series points, Team Rahal holds the No. 1 position in victories (3 ­ Brack 2, Papis 1), poles (4 ­ Brack 3, Papis 1) and laps led (428 ­ Brack 359, Papis 69). In addition, Brack is the only driver in the series to complete every lap on an oval this year with 651, while Papis, with the Portland dominance, has completed the most road circuit laps with 501 of 503 possible laps. Brack has scored points in seven of nine races (not counting the pole from Texas) and Papis in six of nine events.

PAPIS TALKS SAFETY WITH 200 KIDS AT THE YMCA: Prior to hitting MIS for 230 mile per hour speeds, Papis will be the featured speaker this Thursday (July 19) at 1 p.m. at the Jackson, 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 200 children (ages 6-13) in a two-hour program that includes racing video, activity packets, posters and a close-up view of an actual Champ Car. "I'm 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 talk about helmets and other equipment that I hope they use now even in bicycling, skateboarding and roller blading and later in driving cars. I still wear safety equipment when I bike or roller blade."

BRÄCK DEBUTS WITH R.P.M. BAND IN TORONTO, SET FOR CHICAGO: Brack and fellow driver Patrick Carpentier, along with CART's Elizabeth Fornal and Mo Nunn Racing's Laz Denes, debuted the new CART-backed rock band called Racing Powered Music (R.P.M.) last Friday night in Toronto. Brack played the guitar, Carpentier the drums, Denes the bass and Fornal sang vocals before 1,500 at a VIP party. The band will perform next week at Chicago Motor Speedway for the race fans.

-Team Rahal

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske