KENNY BRACK LOOKING TO END 'BAD HABITS' AT CHARLOTTE Defending VisionAire 500 Winner Returns To Site Of First Victory By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com CONCORD, N.C., April 21, 1999 -- Kenny Brack's eyes light up when the May 1 ...
KENNY BRACK LOOKING TO END 'BAD HABITS' AT CHARLOTTE Defending VisionAire 500 Winner Returns To Site Of First Victory By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com
CONCORD, N.C., April 21, 1999 -- Kenny Brack's eyes light up when the May 1 VisionAire 500 race in Charlotte is mentioned. The Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion has a special feeling for the 1.5-mile oval now called Lowe's Motor Speedway. It was there last July 25 that he launched a three-race victory string that propelled him to the championship. "I like the place very much," he said, "because I won my first race there." Brack charged from nearly a lap down following his last pit stop to overtake Jeff Ward and win the race by 5.602 seconds. It ignited a fire in him and in A.J. Foyt PowerTeam Racing that didn't begin to fizzle until the team had followed with consecutive victories at Pikes Peak International Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. This jumped him into the points lead, and he protected it through the final two races to take the championship home to his native Sweden. "We go back to the 1 1/2-mile ovals and Charlotte, so it's a good place to get rid of these habits in the first two races," he said. He didn't state good or bad habits, but obviously he meant the latter. The standings after the first two races seem to reflect such. He's in 27th position with just 14 points. Reasons for his lowly position are a 22nd place finish at Orlando due to an accident and a 24th at Phoenix, again for the same reason. Last year he started out with finishes of 13th and a 14th and had only 33 points. "I don't deliberately start out to have a slow start," he said with chuckle. "It's just the way it turned out. "I think the way I work, the more pressure I have, the more things that go against me the more focused I get to getting back to where winning is happening. And I think I'm doing all I can to get back there. The team is too. So I'm pretty confident we'll get back into the top five and winning races pretty soon." Brack spent a busy off-season. He made it back to his home country for Christmas and New Year's and a few days more recently. He said that the reaction to his championship was big news in Sweden. The country had not had a major racing champion to salute in many years. Not only did he win the Pep Boys Indy Racing League title, but fellow Swede Ricard Ridell won the British Touring Car championship as well. "I think you (a country) need winners if you're doing sports," he said. "Doing ice hockey, you don't try to get second or third, you want to win. I mean, second and third are good results, very good results. But to really get that little extra, you need that winner. "And I think that was quite special. It gave me a lot publicity; it gave the IRL a lot of publicity. And I think racing interest in Sweden is very good at the moment." Before Brack heads to Charlotte, he'll drive this Saturday in the second round of the International Race Of Champions series on the high-banked, 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway in eastern Alabama. One of the benefits of becoming a champion in of a major auto racing series is the invitation to be one of IROC's 12 participants. This has allowed Brack to drive on two tracks -- Daytona International Speedway in February and Talladega -- that normally he would not have been able to drive on. Also, he called it an honor to be racing with the likes of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte, all NASCAR superstars. Brack took advantage of every practice minute made available to him at Daytona and listened to test drivers Dave Marcis and Dick Trickle. "I did what I could to make it happen to make it be a good show," he said. "And I think I succeeded somewhat, because I was fourth, and I was the best single-seater racer, too. So I'm pretty proud of that." Brack remembers how he won the Charlotte race last July like it occurred last week. He spent most of the race just trying to stay on the lead lap and barely did that on the final pit stop. "We had everything go against us," he recalled. "I think we made five pit stops and they were all slow. On top of everything, I missed the call on the last one, so I had to go around an extra lap." Foyt's crew fueled his car while adding four new tires and sent him shooting out just as the cars were lining up for the restart. He was last in the row of cars on the same lap and running on cold tires. None of that cooled off the hot Swede. "I know we did drive flat out the last part of the race," he said. "Took a few chances too, but they all worked out for the good. "And when we won the race it was an amazing feeling. It was great for me and for the team. We worked really hard to get there."