IRL: Atlanta Preview

BRACK COULD CONTINUE ON ROAD TO RICHES IN IRL DEBUT AT ATLANTA HAMPTON, Ga., Aug. 19, 1998 - Kenny Brack could go a long way toward padding a few people's wallets - including his own - with a victory in the inaugural Atlanta 500 Classic...


HAMPTON, Ga., Aug. 19, 1998 - Kenny Brack could go a long way toward padding a few people's wallets - including his own - with a victory in the inaugural Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI on Aug. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A victory could put Brack two-thirds of the way toward sharing a $1 million bonus with a Pep Boys Indy Racing League fan. A win also could put him in the driver's seat for the Pep Boys Million, a $1 million bonus shared between the league championship-winning driver and car owner. The Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI, a 208-lap race, starts at 9 p.m. (EDT) on the 1.54-mile quad-oval. It's the first night race in AMS history and the ninth of 11 races this year in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. Brack is the hottest driver in the league. He has won the last two races, the VisionAire 500 on July 25 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Radisson 200 on Aug. 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway, in his Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. The victory at Charlotte put Brack in position to share $1 million with a fan through the MCI Pep Boys Million Dollar Driver sweepstakes. Brack must win at Atlanta and at the season finale Oct. 11 at Las Vegas to split $1 million with a lucky fan that picked him to sweep the three races, all televised on TNN. After his victory at Pikes Peak, Brack also looms large in the rear-view mirrors of points leader Tony Stewart and second-place Scott Sharp in the race for the Pep Boys Million. Defending series champion Stewart leads with 242 points, with Sharp second at 233. Brack is third at 232, just 10 behind Stewart. It's been an impressive charge for Brack, a distant seventh in the point standings after the New England 200 on June 28 at Loudon, N.H. Brack trailed leader Stewart by 58 points after that race. Don't expect Brack to slow down at Atlanta. He showed plenty of speed during recent testing on the fast, wide, smooth oval. Brack recorded the fastest speed among drivers participating in a Goodyear tire test July 28-29 at AMS, 221.185 mph. That success was no fluke, as Brack and the Foyt team have shown plenty of strength on 1.5-mile tracks this year. Brack finished third in the True Value 500 on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway, a sister track to Atlanta Motor Speedway. Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of Brack's first IRL victory last month, also is a sister track to AMS and TMS. Brack will have plenty of challengers at AMS, as one of the biggest fields of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League season will compete. Stewart must be considered the prime threat to Brack's winning streak. He recorded an unofficial track record speed of 228.505 mph July 7 in his Glidden-Menards Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone during the league's Open Test at Atlanta. Kelley Racing teammates Sharp and Mark Dismore also were speedy during the Open Test. Dismore, searching for his elusive first league victory, was second fastest at 221.494 in the Kelley Automotive Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, while Sharp was third fastest at 221.079 in the Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Jeff Ward and Davey Hamilton, both striving for their first career Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory, also are contenders. Jeff Ward led 97 of the first 118 laps during the Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak but hit the wall while leading by nearly 13 seconds in his ISM Racing-Prolong-Superflo G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. Davey Hamilton has become the league's consistency king, finishing in the top 10 in the last five races in the Reebok-Nienhouse Motorsports Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. He is also a championship contender, fourth in the standings with 219 points. Billy Boat, Brack's teammate, also is a contender for victory in the Conseco-A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Boat won the True Value 500 on the 1.5-mile oval at Texas. He didn't compete in the VisionAire 500 at Charlotte due to injuries suffered in a crash at the New England 200, but he returned with flair by winning the PPG Pole for the Radisson 200 on Aug. 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The layoff due to injuries knocked Boat from title contention, but he could prove to be quite a spoiler down the stretch. Greg Ray is another potential spoiler in the title chase. Ray will return to the league with Thomas Knapp Motorsport after a one-race hiatus. He substituted for the injured Boat in the Pep Boys 400K on July 19 at Dover, Del., and the VisionAire 500 but hasn't raced with Knapp since finishing second to Boat at the True Value 500 in early June. He is tied for 17th in the point standings. Ray qualified second at the Indianapolis 500 with TKM and loves racing on fast, wide, high-banked tracks like Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta. Other top drivers taking a shot at Brack will be Indianapolis 500 winners Arie Luyendyk, Eddie Cheever Jr., and Buddy Lazier. Scott Goodyear, Robbie Buhl, John Paul Jr., Buzz Calkins, Marco Greco, Roberto Guerrero, Raul Boesel, Stephan Gregoire and Sam Schmidt are among the veterans entered. A strong crop of seven rookies is entered, including 1998 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Steve Knapp and Robby Unser, son of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Guerrero , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Bobby Unser , Steve Knapp , Robby Unser , John Paul , A.J. Foyt