Brack Wont Defend Indy Title
May 10, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
"I knew right away that the opportunity to drive for Bobby Rahal was too good to pass up," Brack said of his move this year to CART from the Indy Racing Northern Light Series.
Even so, the split between the open-wheel circuits that will keep all but two CART drivers from running at Indy won't leave Brack as a non-participant.
Instead of driving in what now is the centerpiece of the struggling IRNLS, Brack will be watching a car he co-owns with A.J. Foyt -- the man for whom he drove to victory last year.
They are yet to hire a driver.
"It was A.J.'s idea, and it was a way for me to be part of that race, even though I can't be racing there," said Brack, who also won the IRL championship for Foyt in 1998.
For a while, it appeared that a number of CART teams, including that of Rahal, would race at Indy on May 28, ending a boycott of the big race that began in 1996.
But expenses estimated at $1 million per team scared off all but two owners.
Chip Ganassi has entered defending CART champion Juan Montoya and teammate Jimmy Vasser, and Walker Racing is supplying a car for IRL driver Sarah Fisher.
Rahal, a former winner of the race as a driver, lamented his decision to pass on Indy.
"I feel a little bad for Kenny," he said. "We gave it a lot of hard thought, but our sponsors didn't feel it was a necessity for us to be there and everybody agreed we needed to concentrate on winning the CART championship."
Brack isn't upset with the decision.
"My hands are full with the challenge of making the transition to CART, and I am dedicating my energy and attention to that," he said.
Meanwhile, his transition from the all-oval IRL to a series that races all disciplines, has had its ups and downs.
After three races, Brack is 21st in the standings and has finished in the points -- the top 12 -- only once. He was 10th two weekends ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He led 17 of the 108 laps in that race and could have won until his engine stalled during a late pit stop.
"We had the car to win at Rio," said Brack who will race Saturday in Motegi, Japan. "But on the final pit stop, I put the clutch down to get the car in gear and it didn't engage like before, and the engine stalled."
A mechanical problem left Brack 18th in his CART debut two months ago in Homestead, Fla., and he crashed out of the race last month in Long Beach, Calif., after running as high as fourth.
"I know I'll be learning the tracks as I go, but I think we've shown that we're competitive and in position to challenge for the lead at the races," said the 34-year-old Swede, whose name is pronounced "Breck." "We keep knocking on the door to the winner's circle."
Rahal, who got a victory in the season-opener from his other driver, Max Papis, is not unhappy with the indoctrination of Brack.
"Kenny has stepped in and lived up to our expectations," Rahal said. "We thought all along he would come in and be competitive and fight for wins. He has been a factor in each race."
Helping Brack get used to the new series, and particularly to racing again on road courses, is Don Halliday, a race engineer also new to Team Rahal.
Halliday likes what he sees in Brack, especially his determination.
"He isn't afraid to stick his nose into the action," Halliday said.
He concedes that Brack still has much to learn about CART, but says the driver is becoming more familiar each week with the cars and circuits. Halliday says the other drivers in CART realize Brack is someone to contend with.
Meanwhile, Brack hopes that someday the open-wheel mess will be cleaned up and he can win the Indy 500 for Rahal. For now, Brack will have to settle for watching from a luxury box high above the track.
"But it isn't the best seat in the house," Brack said. "I had that one last year."