IRL: Brack on a Hot Streak

BRACK KEEPING FOYT'S TORCH ABLAZE WITH SUMMER HOT STREAK FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 8, 1998 -- For many years, "Super Tex" drove on the Indy-car trail with No. 14 on the side of his race car. Now the "Super Swede" carries that famous number around...


FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 8, 1998 -- For many years, "Super Tex" drove on the Indy-car trail with No. 14 on the side of his race car. Now the "Super Swede" carries that famous number around the oval tracks of America. The Pep Boys Indy Racing League series returns to Texas Motor Speedway for the Lone Star 500 on Sept. 20. Sweden's Kenny Brack, driver of the No. 14 Power Team Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, not only leads the point standings but also has won an Indy Racing League-record three races in a row. Super Tex, the legendary A.J. Foyt of Houston, owns Super Swede's car. Foyt, winner of four Indianapolis 500s, signed Brack over the winter. Brack drove last year, his rookie Indy Racing League season, for Rick Galles. "I watched the way he drove, and you look back at his history and he's won a lot of races," Foyt said about his decision to hire Brack. "He's still got a lot to learn. And that's one thing, he works real good with me. I've been trying to help him that way." Brack (it's pronounced Breck) doesn't even recall the first time he ever heard of Foyt's name nor did he grow up dreaming of driving against him or for him. He admits that when he came to America he did occasionally fantasize about driving for this team or that team and, of course, Foyt's was one of them. When Brack was moving through the ranks in Europe he was more concerned about latching on with a good Formula One team. But the best seats were always filled, and his foremost desire was to be a winner at every level. "When I got close to Formula One -- I did some test driving and stuff like that -- then I started looking at Indy cars," he said. "I thought that looked more attractive to me, because for me I like to have fun when I race. That's what I want to do. And to have fun to me means going to the race feeling you have the equipment that the other competitors do, so you have a realistic chance of winning the race if you do a good job and your crew does a good job." Brack had a Formula One ride with Arrows but quickly realized he had little chance of being successful on the track. So to the amazement of many, he terminated his contract. "And so I went to America and started looking around," he said. "I don't require better material, but I would like to have the same so it's up to me and the team. That's my greatest motivation. And I found that in the IRL." Galles, who once fielded cars for Al Unser Jr., provided Brack with his big break. He brought Brack in for a test when Davy Jones was injured and signed Brack as the replacement driver. Brack was the first rookie qualifier for the 1997 Indianapolis 500 but was involved in a pace lap accident that eliminated him and two other first-time drivers. Brack began to show his skills with qualifying runs of third at Texas, sixth at Pikes Peak and third at New Hampshire and fifth-place finishes at Charlotte and New Hampshire. Foyt noticed and snatched him up. Now the Swede with speed is paying big dividends. "No, I can't say I'm surprised about (the winning streak)," the affable Brack said. "We've been quick always, and we've been leading. If you think back in the year and even last year I was leading. I had some crashes, mechanical failures. Same this year. We've had some problems basically, but we've always been right there. "I can't say I'm surprised. But, you know, to win three in a row obviously is very difficult." Brack credits the team's success to the hard work of Foyt and his crew. He praised them for finding and maintaining the correct car setup for three different tracks. He won first at Charlotte, followed up at Pikes Peak and then extended the streak in the inaugural event at Atlanta. "I would say the hardest drive I had in terms of wearing myself out probably was Charlotte," he said, "because they put us down in every pit stop. Every time we went into the pits we were leading, and we'd come out fifth or sixth. "The other two have been hard as well, but the first one mentally was the hardest, I think. Also, having to come back all the time through the whole race was very tiring. But there are no easy victories. At least I haven't had any." At Charlotte, Brack led seven times for 76 laps, grabbing the front spot from Jeff Ward with 13 remaining. He passed Robbie Buhl with the three laps to go to win at Pikes Peak, his fuel tank empty and engine dead when he crossed the finish line. At Atlanta, he also got by Ward to win with 14 laps left. "I was actually sitting debating with myself whether to stay in third (at Atlanta) and be happy with it," he said, "because both my main competition in the championship (Tony Stewart and Scott Sharp) at the time were behind me. "I guess I'm not that kind of driver. I've never driven defensively. If anything in my early career, maybe I've been too aggressive. But I think I've got a handle on that pretty well right now." Back on June 6 at TMS, Brack chased teammate Billy Boat and Greg Ray across the finish line in third place. He calls the track fabulous since its reconfiguration and considers it his favorite next to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Brack is an easygoing person who has a special rapport with Swedish journalists who backed him when he starting his career. If he sees something he dislikes in print, he will call the writer and discuss it in agreeable terms. This comes from his upbringing in the tiny village of Glava, about 250 miles west of Stockholm. He was born March 21, 1966 and lived there until he was 18 with his mother, Gum, father, Bert, and sister, Daisy. He then moved to the larger town of Arvika and finally to his current hometown of Karlstad to further his racing career. During the summer he lives in Houston so he can be close to the team. He laughingly admits Foyt is "Texas-izing" him. But so far he has hasn't gotten aboard a horse -- "No, no, I don't want to get hurt" -- nor purchased a ranch. One thing Foyt does outside the garage and pits to take pressure off Brack comes at the post-victory press conferences. More questions are directed to A.J. than to the winning driver, which doesn't upset Brack. "Yeah, that's just normal," he said. "If you've won 67 races like he's done and he's Mr. Racing in the United States, anything less would be strange to me. "I don't mind at all. It's fine. A.J.'s helping me a lot. I couldn't think of a better way for a foreigner like I am to come over here and race with the greatest name in the United States and winning races as well. That's a good PR platform for me. So he's doing a lot of things for me. I'm real grateful for that opportunity he gave me."


Texas Two-Step: Billy Boat is the leading candidate to win the Texas Two-Step Championship and a $100,000 bonus at this event. The driver who scores the most combined points at this race and the True Value 500, completed June 6 at TMS, will earn the big bonus. Boat won the True Value 500 in the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, a Houston resident. The driver with the second-highest total will earn $50,000. Greg Ray, from Plano, Texas, finished second in the True Value 500 in the TKM-Genoa Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. *** Event schedule: The inaugural Lone Star 500 is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 20. The Dallas Morning News Pole Day qualifying for the PPG Pole starts at 4 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 18. Pep Boys Indy Racing League practice sessions will take place at 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 18, and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 19.


Broadcast schedule: The Lone Star 500 will be televised live on ABC at 3 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 20. The Dallas Morning News Pole Day qualifying for the PPG Pole will be televised live on SpeedVision at 5 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 18. The IMS Radio Network will broadcast the race live at 3 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 20, with a pre-race show starting at 2:30 p.m.


Pit challenge: Team Pelfrey and Team Cheever will compete in a Pep Boys Pit Stop Challenge from noon-1 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 16 at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Team Cheever owner and driver, 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr., and Team Pelfrey driver Brian Tyler will be joined by fellow Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers for an autograph session after the competition to see which team can complete a simulated pit stop fastest.


Tickets: Tickets for the Lone Star 500 are available by calling Texas Motor Speedway at (817) 215-8500.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Kenny Brack , Brian Tyler , Davy Jones , A.J. Foyt