BRACK 'BEST IN CLASS' IN IROC RACE AT TALLADEGA Cheever also enjoys strong showing in Round 2 of racing's 'all-star game' TALLADEGA, Ala., April 26, 1999 -- Kenny Brack finished fifth in Round 2 of the International Race of Champions ...
BRACK 'BEST IN CLASS' IN IROC RACE AT TALLADEGA Cheever also enjoys strong showing in Round 2 of racing's 'all-star game'
TALLADEGA, Ala., April 26, 1999 -- Kenny Brack finished fifth in Round 2 of the International Race of Champions (IROC) April 24 at Talladega Superspeedway but was first in class. "I finished highest among the open-wheel drivers," said Brack, the 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion. "I'm very proud of that because it's not easy beating NASCAR Winston Cup drivers at their own game." The IROC series favors drivers who have stock-car experience. Brack prepped for Round 2 with two days of extensive practice but still finished behind four Winston Cup veterans. Dale Earnhardt won the sprint race with a last-lap pass of Rusty Wallace, who was followed across the finish line by Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Brack. Earnhardt opened the season by winning IROC Round 1 at Daytona. Eddie Cheever Jr., the 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion, wound up eighth. He started on the outside pole thanks to a crash that ended his day in last place in Round 1 at Daytona International Speedway. "This went much better than the first one,'" Cheever said. "I'm so glad I finished today. This kind of racing, well, it's the luck of the draw." Both Brack and Cheever had what stock-car drivers describe as the "yo-yo" experience -- go up through the field, drop back, go up and drop back depending on the flow of the "draft." "I started in the front, went to the back, then got all screwed up and lost the tow, and that was it," said Cheever. "I got hung out a few times. Like at the start of the race, I thought there was a line behind me, and when I looked around and OOPS! Nobody was there. "At that point, I felt like I was tied to a post. They all went around me. I worked my way back up to fourth, but every time I'd get out of the pack group, it would take me three laps to get back up to speed. I just could not get close enough." Brack was making a solid run but with about 10 laps left in the 38-lap sprint over Talladega's 2.66-mile tri-oval course, Jeff Burton suddenly slowed and jerked his IROC racer out of the racing line to the apron. "That shook us all up," said Earnhardt, who was being followed by Brack at the time. "I was top three or four then, but something happened to Burton and I had to get out of the throttle," said Brack. "I did that a little too much. I lost Earnhardt and I lost a few others, too. I got shuffled way back and had to work my way back up again. I'm happy with that finish, but it would be nice to get a podium finish." Brack finished fourth at Daytona and is in the thick of the IROC championship chase. Round 3 is scheduled for June 11 at Michigan, and the season finale will be Aug. 6 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a prelude to the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race. "The trick is to get races under your belt so you know where to position yourself so you know what to look for and not to look for," said Brack. "This is my second race at a track like this. It's hard to beat these Winston Cup guys at their own game. But I really enjoy this. This is a lot of fun." CART driver Adrian Fernandez finished sixth at Talladega. NASCAR's Bobby Labonte, Cheever, CART driver Greg Moore, and NASCAR drivers Dale Jarrett, Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who lost his motor on the eighth lap, followed him. Earnhardt Sr. gave the Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers a real compliment when all was said and done following the 101-mile race. "Cheever and Brack must have picked up a lot of experience at Daytona," he said with a smile. "They did really well. They stayed in line and worked the draft really good." The NASCAR drivers have taken Brack and Cheever under their wing in this four-stop, invitation-only series. "There's so much friendliness among the drivers," said Brack. "We race hard, but the Winston Cup guys advise us what to do and not to do in these cars. They're really a great bunch of guys. I hope someday to be a little closer to them on the racetrack."