IRL: Phoenix: Buddy Rice preview

Avondale, Ariz--. Team Rahal's Kenny Brack, the former IRL IndyCar® Series cham- pion and 1999 Indy 500 winner, makes his initial return to a race track this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway when he attends the Copper World Indy 200 on ...

Avondale, Ariz--. Team Rahal's Kenny Brack, the former IRL IndyCar® Series cham- pion and 1999 Indy 500 winner, makes his initial return to a race track this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway when he attends the Copper World Indy 200 on March 19-21.

Brack, seriously injured his October at Texas Motor Speedway, has been in a tough reha- bilitation program since the beginning of January after the birth of his first child, daughter Karma, on New Years Eve. Working at five hours per day, five days a week clip, Brack has returned to within eight pounds of his Oct. 12 race day weight and has been walking on his own since Feb. 1.

Brack will hold a media conference on Friday, March 19, at 1 p.m. in the PIR media cen- ter to explain his recovery rate and his future racing plans.

Brack will serve as a consultant for substitute driver Buddy Rice and his Team Rahal crew during the PIR weekend that gets underway on Friday with practice. The Copper World Indy 200 will take place at 2 p.m. (MST) Sunday, March 21, and will be seen live on ABC-TV.

"I'm anxious to get back to the track and see many of my friends and colleagues," said Brack, who suffered fractures to his spine, ribs, right leg and ankles in the 193 g-load crash on the 188th lap of last season's IRL finale. "I have been working out hard in rehab but I wanted to see how the team and Buddy are working. They won the pole at Homestead and had a fast car in the race. I think they can continue that at Phoenix. It will be good for me to be back at the track."

RAHAL HONORED: Team Rahal co-owner Bobby Rahal, the three-time series champion and 1986 Indy 500 winner, will miss the PIR event this weekend due to an important matter - he will be inducted into the 12 Hours of Sebring Hall of Fame. Rahal, 51, went to Sebring as a child to watch his father Mike race in the legendary sports car event and he drove his first 12 Hours in 1976 with Jim Trueman. In 1982, Rahal won the pole position for the race. But his biggest Se- bring thrill came in 1987 when he co-drove Jochen Mass to victory in Bruce Leven's Porsche 962. He and Mass ran down leaders Derek Bell and Chip Robinson in the Holbert Porsche in the last hour of competition. Rahal will be honored with many other inductees on Friday in a luncheon at the Chateau Elan Hotel near the Sebring Raceway. Rahal also will be inducted into the Interna- tional Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 22 in Talladega, Ala., and the American Racing Hall of Fame in Novi, Mich., on July 29.

RICE BUSY IN HIS HOMETOWN: Homestead pole winner Buddy Rice gets to sleep in his own bed this week in Phoenix but the Team Rahal driver will be busy off the track. Last Friday, he was a special guest at the Phoenix Coyotes hockey game and drove the Zamboni. This Tues- day Rice will be part (with Team Rahal's Danica Patrick) in an Argent Mortgage commercial shoot at PIR and, on Wednesday, Buddy will throw out the first pitch at the Milwaukee Brewers- Kansas City Royals pre-season baseball game in near Maryvale, Ariz. Rice played shortstop and second base in high school in the Phoenix area before concentrating on auto racing.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice , Derek Bell , Jochen Mass , Chip Robinson , Bruce Leven , Danica Patrick