CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto Team Rahal preview

KENNY BRÄCK BRINGS CART POINT LEAD TO EXHIBITION PARK: CART point leader Kenny Brack, still seeking his first CART road victory, comes to the city of Toronto with several things on his mind this weekend (July 13-15) for the annual Molson Indy.


CART point leader Kenny Brack, still seeking his first CART road victory, comes to the city of Toronto with several things on his mind this weekend (July 13-15) for the annual Molson Indy. Brack, the pole winner at the season opener on the road in Mexico, scored two seconds at Cleveland and Australia and third at Road America last year in his rookie season on the FedEx tour but never reach the top of the podium on a road course. Brack was the winner this year on Japan and Milwaukee ovals to jump to the CART point lead and he hasn't looked back. The driver of the No. 8 Shell Ford Lola holds a 14-point advantage (84-70) over second place Helio Castroneves as the two hit the streets again. Castroneves has led every lap in the last two street events (Long Beach and Detroit) but Brack was on his tail in California when the rear end of his mount let go. Brack's consistency this year has helped his point lead by scoring markers in seven of eight events in the 2001 season. Actually, he is eight of nine counting the point he gathered for the pole at the cancelled Texas race. Last year at Toronto, Brack was running fourth in his first appearance at Exhibition Park but slid wide in turn three late in the race and placed tenth. "I really enjoyed Toronto," said Brack, the 2000 CART Rookie of the Year. "The town is fun and the fans are really into the racing. That is great. Toronto fans are like the fans in Europe. They love their racing. We didn't have a good race last year and I expect us to be better this time. You can't make a mistake there. But there are at least two good places to pass and that is important with a street circuit. We had a good car at both Mexico and Long Beach in the streets and we didn't finish like we wanted. The car wasn't as good at Detroit. I hope we can return the car to the start of the year."


Max Papis, the driver of the No. 7 Miller Lite Ford Lola, brings some strong memories to the Molson Indy in Toronto. Papis, who dominated the Portland event three weeks ago, know what Toronto means to him. Without the death of Toyota driver Jeff Krosnoff in 1996, Papis may never have entered the CART FedEx Championship Series. It was the unfortunate incident in turn three that claim Krosnoff and brought Papis from sports cars to champ cars. "I think about this race a lot because it is the Toronto race brought me to CART," said the flamboyant Papis, who won his first CART event on an oval in Miami last year. "When Jeff (Krosnoff) was killed at Toronto, Cal Wells tested me to be his replacement. From there, I was able to get the ride in CART. Jeff was a special person and I always want to do well in Toronto as part of his memory. I'd love to get on the podium at Toronto. I think we've developed the new Lola enough now to be competitive there. I'm looking forward to coming back to Toronto."


Papis made his Molson Indy debut in 1997 and finished 15th. Since then, "Mad Max" has placed eighth (1998), fifth (1999) and eighth (2000). "Last year, I was on the podium at Toronto for the DRIVEN movie," said Papis. "Now I want to do it for real. Qualifying is always important at Toronto. We have the concentrate on that this time around. We didn't get a chance to show our Portland car at Cleveland. Qualifying in the rain and then a broken steering arm didn't give us a good chance to run properly. But I expect us to be back up at the front again. I like the Toronto circuit and the city. It's exciting."


Brack's come-from-behind drive in last year's Cleveland Grand Prix was one of the highlights of the CART season for Team Rahal. The Swede came from 15th on the grid to finish a close second to winner Roberto Moreno. Last week, Brack did it again on the wide runways of Burke Lakefront Airport. Starting 17th after qualifying in the rain, the Shell driver passed 11 drivers on the first lap and ran as high as second at Cleveland. A late splash for fuel dropped Brack to sixth at the checkered flag. "There were a couple of strategies for that race," explained Brack. "Some went for speed and some for fuel economy. We thought about fuel economy since we started so far back. But I got a good start and we had to change it. We ran as fast as we could and we didn't get any yellow flags."


When Papis' Miller Lite team hit the season opener in Mexico, they almost needed to introduce each other. More than half of the crew was new to Team Rahal for 2001 and Papis knew it would take time for his Miller Lite crew to jell. After the Portland victory, he feels things are coming together. "There is nothing magic in auto racing," said Papis. "There is only hard work and being conscious of your own weaknesses. We had a lot of good people working together for the first time. We just needed to get the package working together. We are closer now."


Brack and fellow driver Patrick Carpentier have formed a new CART-backed rock band called Racing Powered Music (RPM). Brack plays the guitar and Carpentier the drums in the four-person group. <pre> TEAM RAHAL'S 2001 CART CHAMP CAR RECORD 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 (Wing) April 29 Ft. Worth, Texas (Oval) 1/ (Postponed) 17 (Value)/ (Postponed) 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 June 17 Detroit, Mich. (Road) 10/9 24/11 June 24 Portland, Ore. (Road) 22/11 1/1 July 1 Cleveland, Ohio (Road) 17/6 22/18 (Susp.)


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Kenny Brack , Jeff Krosnoff