INDIANAPOLIS, April 18, 2003 - While the Infiniti Pro Series drivers were turning laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Team Rahal pulled into town to embark on their own test of the 2.5-mile Brickyard circuit. Driver Kenny Brack, back...
INDIANAPOLIS, April 18, 2003 - While the Infiniti Pro Series drivers were turning laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Team Rahal pulled into town to embark on their own test of the 2.5-mile Brickyard circuit.
Driver Kenny Brack, back from Twin Ring Motegi with a second-place finish in his #15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda had some observations on his return to Indy Racing combat and the Japan Indy 300 held last weekend, a race he won for Team Rahal two years ago en route to earning second place in the CART season standings.
"I'm pleased by our competitiveness there and now we have some momentum," Brack explained. While some teams are vacillating between the Panoz G Force and Dallara chassis, Brack expects Team Rahal to stick with the Dallara for the 87th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. "I don't think G Force has anything over Dallara for that race except maybe in qualifying and they're still working out their final qualifying specifications for Indy," the survivor shrugged.
He was willing to talk about the race in Motegi that resulted in 12 retirements in a field of 24. "I'm the first to admit making occasional mistakes in my driving career," Brack emphasized, "and when I drive into corner I don't always think the other guy will give way. In racing, it's okay to be brave but not stupid."
Despite rain on qualifying day, conditions hadn't changed much from Friday to Sunday for the IndyCar Series entrants, Brack allowed.
He believes that the number of incidents that peppered the Japan Indy 300 were due to, um, some red mist. It wasn't as though the pressure was off in Japan, home to the Indy Racing League's two new engine makers.
Indeed, Twin Ring Motegi was built and is owned by Honda, whose glorious museum graces the site. Its arch-competitor Toyota lives to defeat Honda and did so in the final CART race at Motegi last year. Honda still hasn't won at its own circuit.
Pressure. There was plenty. But things got a little wacky in Japan, Brack agrees. "It's very competitive here" in the League. "The rules allow wheel-to-wheel racing and with that comes responsibility."
This is, of course, Kenny's second stint in Indy racing. He dove in with Rick Galles in 1997, banked a series title and his mug on the Borg-Warner Trophy in two successive years with A.J. Foyt Enterprises. He returned to the IRL after a three-year CART career, along with former CART employer Team Rahal.
"In CART you couldn't have this kind of tight racing," Brack continued. "Here you can obviously do that. We try to hold our line, anticipate the other driver's moves and, most of all control our own car." The line between bravery and stupidity? Driving into a corner thinking the other guy will automatically give way.
'This is a series where you can race your way to the front. The cars and the rules allow for that kind of racing. That makes taking top spot in qualifying less of a mandatory requirement as it's been in CART.
"It's nice. You can feel good qualifying fifth or six in the Indy Racing League, whatever. You can win with a good car. You can have bad pit stops or qualify off the front row. A lot of times it's not do or die and you can get another chance."
But Kenny Brack is worried about responsibility. The type of accountability to one another drivers must have on the track. It's intrinsic to good, clean oval racing. Was it lacking at Twin Ring Motegi?
"On an oval, corner speeds are high and that's just the nature of the beast. We have a great series and it's exciting for everybody." But Brack insists it's the driver's responsibility to know what's going on at the perimeter.
"Either you're aware or you're not." It's not the spotter's job to make critical decisions that can inflict or avoid pain, it's the driver's. "If you rely on a spotter you're going to lose because then you don't have a sense of what's going on."
There are three races done in the 16-event Indy Racing League campaign for 2003. Phoenix and Japan have yielded injuries that can only be chalked up to competition. This is both a good and bad thing.
It's great that the competition level has advanced so highly in the Indy Racing League since Brack's been away. It's a shame that same competition is resulting in injury to the drivers who are making the IndyCar Series so exciting.