TALENT, TORQUE, TEAMWORK FORM BRACK'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS HAMPTON, Ga., Aug. 29, 1998 - Crew chief John King has been around open-wheel racing for many years, and he knows a race driver when he sees one. Especially when he races out of his...
TALENT, TORQUE, TEAMWORK FORM BRACK'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
HAMPTON, Ga., Aug. 29, 1998 - Crew chief John King has been around open-wheel racing for many years, and he knows a race driver when he sees one.
Especially when he races out of his pit and has won a record three Pep Boys Indy Racing League races in a row.
That driver is the Swede with speed, Kenny Brack, who won the inaugural Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI on Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"It's almost unbelievable," King said as the last drops of fuel were drained from Brack's A.J. Foyt Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.
"He's a racer, he's really a racer. When he went down in the grass to make a pass, I thought he was going for it. He was either going to put it in the wall or win it."
Brack came from nearly a lap behind to outrace Davey Hamilton and 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. over the final laps, adding to victories he scored at Charlotte Motor Speedway on July 25 and Pikes Peak International Raceway on Aug. 16. He averaged 140.026 mph.
Hamilton and Brack switched teams after last season, the Swede moving from Rick Galles to the Foyt team and vice versa. Bob Nienhouse bought the Galles team over the winter, but Galles still acts as team's general manager.
"Once you get your first victory," said Hamilton, still seeking his, "sometimes the rest come easier. They're on a mission now."
Hamilton strung victories together in his supermodified racing days. Cheever, who also once drove for Foyt and came within a lap and a gallon of fuel of winning at Nazareth, Pa., for the four-time Indy 500 champion, had a quick answer to Brack's success.
"Horsepower," Cheever said.
"Around here now it takes a lot of horsepower. I would say this, I think Foyt's engines are the best. He made them the best. They just didn't get that way. He's run very strong."
Still, Cheever didn't concede that Brack had the best car Saturday night.
"It could have been anybody's race," he said. "If we hadn't had to come in to change tires, I think we would have had a shot at it because our car was better on a lighter load than anybody else's."
Through the closing laps, Cheever and Tony Stewart, who at one point went from 25th starting position to first, put on a tremendous duel for third. Then Scott Goodyear, who had the dominant car for two-thirds of the race, battled his way around Stewart at the end and challenged Cheever for third before the checkered flag waved.
Foyt knows first-hand about winning streaks because he had several of them during his prime.
"It's just that we've got good chemistry," Foyt said. "When you've got that, no matter what kind of racing it is, you're hard to beat."
Earlier this season NASCAR Winston Cup star Jeff Gordon won four races in a row and so did CART's Alex Zanardi. Brack will try to match their streaks in the next Pep Boys Indy Racing League event Sept. 20 at Texas Motor Sp eedway.
Two other drivers who know about winning streaks are Indy Racing League officials Al Unser Sr. and Johnny Rutherford, who own seven Indianapolis 500 victories between them.
"It takes a good team, a good car and a good driver," said Unser with a simple explanation.
"But when you have a team, and they start putting them together like that, it flat means they're operating good together. That's what it takes. They're all doing their homework, and the driver's paying attention."
Asked how many he ever won in a row, Unser replied, "Never enough." During the 1970-71 seasons, Unser was the driver to beat in Indy-style cars. Rutherford had that kind of season in 1980.
"They have communications," Lone Star J.R. said. "Obviously, everything was working because Brack wasn't a factor in the early qualifying or anything. He was just a good solid qualifier, and the crew was able to communicate with him, make the right decisions and put him in the spot to take the lead and win the race."
Mark Lubin is a crewman on the Power Team car. He, too, sees Brack as an unbelievable driver.
"He just drives and drives and drives," he said.
The victory jumped Brack into the lead of the points race. He now has 282, with Hamilton second at 259, Stewart third at 257 and Scott Sharp fourth at 246. Brack collected $160,950 for his Atlanta win and $413,750 during his three-race victory streak.
Hamilton lost last season's championship to Stewart by six points. He desperately wants to move up one spot after the season finale Oct. 11 at Las Vegas.
"It's still a tight battle," he said.
"We want to win big time. We know we can win. We're going to win. We had a great day. Kenny had a little bit better one."