BRACK THINKS ANOTHER TITLE RUN COULD START IN ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 8, 1999 -- Kenny Brack is back from his native Sweden, re-energized and ready to defend his Pep Boys Indy Racing League championship. Brack was...
BRACK THINKS ANOTHER TITLE RUN COULD START IN ORLANDO
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 8, 1999 -- Kenny Brack is back from his native Sweden, re-energized and ready to defend his Pep Boys Indy Racing League championship. Brack was at Walt Disney World Speedway Thursday participating in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League's second Open Test leading up to the 1999 season opener -- the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 -- at the same track on Jan. 24. He again was driving the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. "It's always difficult to win a championship whether it's the first, second or third," Brack said. "We're going into every race doing absolutely the best we can. I'm confident. This year we've (team) been together for a year. We should start out smoothly." Actually, there will be one major change. Veteran chief mechanic John King has decided to retire to his Michigan farm. Replacing him will be 27-year-old Bill Spencer, lead mechanic on the car of Brack's teammate, Billy Boat, last season. Brack knows Spencer well and sees no transitional problems. "He's really a great guy," Brack said. "He's a hard worker and intelligent. I'm very happy with the replacement. "I'll have the rest of the guys with me from last year. They're a great bunch. This is not a one-man show." Brack, who turns 33 on March 21, had a super second half during the 1998 season, winning consecutive races at Charlotte, Pikes Peak and Atlanta to capture the league's third championship by 40 points over Davey Hamilton. The native of Arvika, Sweden, said the car displayed speed all season, but mechanical difficulties in the first six races kept him out of victory lane. "It wasn't a case of not being fast enough, it was a case of not finishing," he said. "It was my first year with A.J.. We led at Orlando and had the fastest lap, but then two bolts broke in the rear suspension. We retired, but we were quick." Last January, Brack led one lap at Walt Disney World Speedway and recorded a race-best lap of 164.903 mph. He had completed only 174 of 200 laps when Tony Stewart took the checkered flag. Becoming disenchanted with Formula One after performing as a test driver, Brack came to the United States and was at Orlando in 1997 just making himself known. When Davy Jones was injured in a crash, car owner Rick Galles invited Brack to come to Phoenix the following week for a test. This led to a full-season ride. Actually, Brack met Galles at a '96 test when he was hanging around the Roger Penske team during a test session at Firebird, also in the Phoenix area. Brack received a surprise call from Foyt after the 1998 season, leading to a whirlwind hiring. "I was in Florida when Foyt called," Brack said. "All of a sudden, this call came out of the blue. He wanted me to fly from Florida to Las Vegas the next day. I said I really would like to drive for him, but I wasn't going to fly out there unless I had a deal. A couple hours later he called me back and said we had a deal. "Best things seem to happen when you least expect them." Brack spent most of December 1998 in his homeland, returning to Houston on Jan. 3. He said that his championship has had an impact in Sweden, where tennis, golf and hockey players have received the most international sports page attention. "Racing was kind of forgotten since Ronnie Peterson died at Monza (in a Formula One crash in 1978). This year it has turned around. For Orlando, I hear that four or five journalists are coming over, including one from the biggest paper like your USA Today. "I always kept them up to date. I've had a good relationship with the journalists. Last year the publicity really took off. The IRL now is pretty well known in Sweden." His parents, too, are planning to come to Orlando to see him race. *** Tickets: Tickets for the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 are available by calling (800) 822-INDY.