An Open Wheel Challenge

11774Jpg
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kenny Brack is testing with Chip Ganassi Racing this week, but the team left its Lola-Toyota behind.

No, Brack isn’t test for the upcoming CART FedEx Championship Series season. He’s testing a Dodge Intrepid at Daytona International Speedway, and he’s doing quite well for a NASCAR newbie.

“Kenny did OK for his first day in a Winston Cup car,” Ganassi team manager Andy Graves said. “Everything went pretty smooth. It’s just getting acclimated to the cars and the way we do things and getting to know the guys. We didn’t have any major problems, and hopefully we’ll improve the speed.

“The car is just totally different from what he’s used to, so that’s the biggest adjustment for him.”

Don’t worry, open-wheel fans, Brack isn’t going anywhere. He signed with Ganassi’s CART team this season after winning four races and finishing second in the points standings in 2001 with Team Rahal.

CART is still his No. 1 priority, but with Ganassi’s extensive resources, the team figured it would give Brack a shot at NASCAR. No actual races are planned as of yet, but if sponsorship could be found, you could see Brack in the Daytona 500.

“Right now, I’ve been given a chance to test a few days and get my feet wet, and then we’ll see if they can find some extra funding for the race,” Brack said. “If not, we’ll leave it at that. I’ve always wanted to test a stock car, so I’m just grateful for that right now. I’m taking it one step at a time. Next week, we’ll test the CART car. I try to focus on the near future, and what will come will come.”

But NASCAR is a challenge, Brack said, and he likes a challenge.

“I’ve got a lot to learn,” Brack said. “You just don’t jump into something new, and bam! it’s there. I have no hopes that will be the case here. I know it’ll be tough if we get that far, but it’s a challenge. That’s what life is all about.

“I look at every race as a challenge to do my best and try to work together with the team to get the most out of the car. When I go away from the race, I want to feel that I’ve given it everything I could for good results. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. If I should get an opportunity to do Winston Cup, I would look at that the same way. There’s no other way of looking at it if you want to be successful.”

Graves said it wasn’t a big pain to test Brack here, even though it’s a considerable expense with cars, equipment and personnel. But Graves said Ganassi has a test team with a complete backup pit crew to work with Brack.

“I’ve been to a couple of (CART) tests that he’s been on,” Graves said. “He’s pretty neat. He’s a true professional and good with feedback, so that helps quite a bit. I guess with my understanding of how open-wheel guys work and the dialogue they use, me being here probably helps him be more at ease.

“I’d say Kenny would be a longshot to win the Daytona 500, but I think it would increase our chances. It seems nowadays that about the only people that will work with you are your teammates. We already feel like we’ve got one of the strongest superspeedway pairings with Spencer and Sterling. If we can add Kenny to the mix I think it would be pretty exciting.”

Of course, it would be interesting to get the three drivers together with their divergent backgrounds. Marlin has a deep Southern accent, while Spencer is from Pennsylvania and Brack from Sweden.

“I haven’t talked to Sterling Marlin yet,” Brack said. “I’m excited to do so. I’ve heard him talk. He seems like a pretty interesting guy.”

Brack has some personality, too, and is a fan favorite in CART. He knows many NASCAR drivers from his time in IROC.

“They’re a fun bunch of guys,” Brack said. “I’m sure that may change if you race in the Winston Cup Series, who knows. So far, so good. It’s been a very pleasant experience. I like the feel of NASCAR.

“My wife likes NASCAR. She’s been to a lot of IROC races. I’m from the countryside in Sweden, and I like the feel in NASCAR. I like the feel in CART, too. I never have trouble getting along with people. I like the feel of most American racing to be honest with you. It’s a nice feeling. NASCAR is a very well-looked after series. It’s a challenge to try to do well.”

Brack, though, may never get that to meet that challenge.

“We haven’t talked in depth about it, but there’s a good chance we might run a few more races after Daytona with Kenny,” Graves said. “We’re looking for a sponsor, so it’s not 100 percent. We want to see how testing goes and see what Kenny thinks, but they are pursuing a sponsor to run a limited schedule this year.

“I’d like to see him go to Indy for the Brickyard, and we’ll take it from there. He’s not available for the Watkins Glen race, but he is available for Sears Point. That’d probably be an option, and we’ll take it from there.”

Waltrip, Wallace Fast on Final Day
Michael Waltrip finished the second week of testing as the driver with the fastest non-drafting speed. His lap of 183.255 mph was posted Thursday, and was a tick quicker than Jeremy Mayfield’s lap of 183.221 set Wednesday.

Waltrip’s lap was the sixth-fastest non-drafting speed of all Winston Cup cars, behind those of Jimmie Johnson, Ward Burton, Kenny Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon set last week.

Around 1:30 p.m. (ET) Thursday, several drivers began drafting, and the speeds went up. Mike Wallace drafted the quickest, going 184.302 to post the fastest speed of the week. Wallace’s lap was .001 seconds faster than Bill Elliott’s 184.298. Jimmy Spencer was third at 184.222.

Some Fords, which have been slow throughout the week, jumped to the top of the speed charts in drafting practice. Matt Kenseth was fifth at 184.185, Elliott Sadler sixth at 184.132, Derrike Cope seventh at 184.117 and Rusty Wallace eighth at 183.673.

“I can run with the guys, but I just can’t pull out and pass unless I’ve got somebody pushing me,” said Sadler, who was 43rd in the morning, non-drafting session. “We got the car comfortable in the draft. I feel like we’ve got something to work with. We ended up eighth (over the two weeks) on the chart, which means we can get some speed out of it, and I ran good.

“We’re probably a little more upbeat now than we were at lunch time.”

After the 5 p.m. (ET) track closing, a few Ford drivers tried a smaller spoiler to see if they could increase speeds. Ford is pitching NASCAR for a little spoiler help, and the runs were designed to prove what the manufacturer really has. Rusty Wallace made three three-lap runs, but even with a half-inch off the spoiler, Wallace said he gained only 100 rpms in a non-drafting run.

Ward Burton’s 184.961 mph lap last week was the fastest of January preseason testing.

Atwood in No. 19 for Budweiser Shootout
Casey Atwood won’t be driving his No. 7 in next month’s Budweiser Shootout, the pole-winner’s race at Daytona. Instead, Atwood will be driving a car Jeremy Mayfield is testing this week.

“(Team owner) Ray (Evernham) told me I put the 19 car in the Bud Shootout, so I should drive the 19 car,” Atwood said. “That’s going to be pretty cool.”

Atwood won his pole last year at Phoenix in the No. 19 Dodge, but Evernham moved Atwood to the No. 7 team for 2002.

Waltrip, Stewart Don’t Like New Format
Michael Waltrip and Tony Stewart don’t care too much for the new testing procedures at Daytona this year. Instead of being broken into manufacturer’s sessions, teams were split into two groups based on points standings.

The larger number of cars has led to congestion on pit road because only a small amount of cars can be on the track at a time for simulated qualifying runs.

“It’s too crowded,” Waltrip said. “We sit on pit road more than we get to run. There’s about 25 teams here, and each team has two cars. The reason why it’s so crowded is because the crew guys get one car ready while the other one’s being run. I accept the fact that I’m going to be on one car, and then the other, back and forth, all day long. That’s great.

“But the problem is, you do that, and then you drive out on pit road and have to sit there for 15 minutes. It doesn’t allow you to take advantage of all the time. They need to look at that. I’d rather be here and not sit in line. I’m going to sit in line for a day.”

Waltrip suggest four sessions of two days each to break up the number of cars. Stewart, though, has a different idea. He said he’s going to skip next year’s tests.

“I don’t like the format of three days,” Stewart said. “It’s too long to be here. It’s not a big deal. It’s boring for drivers, but it’s very busy for the crews and the engineers.

“Next year, I’m not going to be here for the test. I’m going to send somebody else to drive the cars for me. I’m going to take three more days of vacation. It’s pretty boring.”

Sandbagging from Ford’s Point of View
Ford drivers have been accused of sandbagging in the two week’s of testing here, and they have been slow. Whether they’ve been slow on purpose or not is up for debate.

“We are doing the best we can,” said Ford team owner Jack Roush. “The rules and balance of potential among the cars are not even, and unless NASCAR recognizes the problem, it’s not a good prospect for any of the Fords at Daytona in February.”

Some think the Fords are running slowly on purpose to get a rules break from NASCAR, and Roush said the sanctioning body “would look at it after testing and consider making changes accordingly.”

Ford driver Rusty Wallace is hopeful the Taurus rear spoiler would be reduced.

“There’s a certain amount in mind, but I’d rather not talk about it,” Wallace said. “A quarter-inch is not enough, I can tell you that.”

Waltrip has Another Rule in Mind
Speaking of rules changes, Waltrip has what he calls the “greatest rule ever”: a rule governing the opening of the front air dams. That would help teams adjust to the one-engine rule NASCAR has mandated for 2002.

“They need to have a square-inch rule for the air duct,” Waltrip said. “Instead of taping the front end off solid to make qualifying runs, why not have a rule that states that you have to have 100 square inches open, or 50 square inches, whatever works. Have that open on the grille when you go to qualify, and that way you don’t heat-cycle the engines so much. It also keeps your car closer to race trim. We need to get rid of that tape.”

Cumulative, Non-drafting speeds
Jimmie Johnson 183.816
Ward Burton 183.748
Kenny Wallace 183.486
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 183.475
Jeff Gordon 183.262
Michael Waltrip, 183.255
Jeremy Mayfield, 183.221
Bobby Hamilton 183.139
Jerry Nadeau, 183.139
Casey Atwood, 183.113
Stacy Compton 183.087
Mike Skinner 182.975
Terry Labonte 182.815
Robby Gordon 182.793
Geoffrey Bodine 182.723
Mike Wallace, 182.678
Brett Bodine 182.630
Sterling Marlin 182.589
Kevin Harvick, 182.338
Kerry Earnhardt, 182.216
Robert Pressley, 182.160
Johnny Benson, 182.160
Bobby Labonte, 182.057
Bill Elliott, 181.943
Dale Jarrett 181.925
Ken Schrader 181.815
Kurt Busch 181.756
Mark Martin 181.649
Dave Marcis 181.605
Jeff Green, 181.547
Jimmy Spencer, 181.466
Andy Hillenburg, 181.455
Rusty Wallace, 181.452
Shawna Robinson, 181.393
Hut Stricklin, 181.243
John Andretti, 181.170
Tony Stewart, 181.152
Dave Blaney 181.141
Kenny Brack, 181.123
Todd Bodine 180.897
Kyle Petty, 180.843
Ricky Craven 180.625
Buckshot Jones 180.672
Derrike Cope, 180.484
Matt Kenseth, 180.476
Ryan Newman, 179.817
Greg Biffle, 179.795
Jeff Burton, 179.530
Bobby Gerhart, 179.361
Rick Mast, 179.340
Joe Nemechek 179.301
Hermie Sadler, 179.179
Elliott Sadler, 178.465
Norm Benning 177.075

Cumulative, All Speeds
Ward Burton 184.961
Kenny Wallace 184.502
Mike Wallace, 184.302
Bill Elliott, 184.298
Jimmy Spencer, 184.222
Bobby Labonte, 184.207
Matt Kenseth, 184.185
Elliott Sadler, 184.132
Derrike Cope, 184.117
Kurt Busch 183.948
Dale Jarrett 183.902
Jimmie Johnson 183.816
Mark Martin 183.793
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 183.711
Rusty Wallace, 183.673
Kenny Brack, 183.617
Jeff Burton, 183.580
Tony Stewart, 183.531
Mike Skinner 183.419
Jeremy Mayfield, 183.411
Jeff Gordon 183.262
Michael Waltrip, 183.255
Casey Atwood, 183.202
Brett Bodine 183.146
Bobby Hamilton 183.139
Jerry Nadeau, 183.139
Ricky Craven 183.132
Geoffrey Bodine 183.109
Stacy Compton 183.087
Sterling Marlin 183.031
Robby Gordon 182.931
Terry Labonte 182.864
Ryan Newman, 182.823
Greg Biffle, 182.371
Kevin Harvick, 182.338
Todd Bodine 182.238
Kyle Petty, 182.223
Kerry Earnhardt, 182.216
Buckshot Jones 182.164
Robert Pressley, 182.160
Johnny Benson, 182.160
Bobby Labonte, 182.057
John Andretti, 181.833
Dave Blaney 181.686
Ken Schrader 181.815
Andy Hillenburg, 181.675
Dave Marcis 181.605
Jeff Green, 181.547
Shawna Robinson, 181.393
Hut Stricklin, 181.243
Norm Benning 180.748
Joe Nemechek 179.939
Bobby Gerhart, 179.361
Rick Mast, 179.340
Hermie Sadler, 179.179

Thursday’s Speeds (best laps)
John Andretti, 181.833
Casey Atwood, 183.202
Norm Benning, 180.748
Johnny Benson, 182.135
Greg Biffle, 182.371
Kenny Brack, 183.617
Jeff Burton, 183.580
Derrike Cope, 184.117
Kerry Earnhardt, 181.708
Bill Elliott, 184.298
Jeff Green, 181.547
Kevin Harvick, 181.862
Andy Hillenburg, 181.671
Matt Kenseth, 184.185
Bobby Labonte, 184.207
Rick Mast, 179.340
Jeremy Mayfield, 183.411
Jerry Nadeau, 183.139
Ryan Newman, 181.616
Kyle Petty, 182.223
Robert Pressley, 181.043
Shawna Robinson, 181.247
Elliott Sadler, 184.132
Hermie Sadler, 178.678
Jimmy Spencer, 184.222
Tony Stewart, 183.531
Hut Stricklin, 181.119
Mike Wallace, 184.302
Rusty Wallace, 181.369
Michael Waltrip, 183.255

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002, Kenny Brack

Photos

  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes

Advertisement

You may unsubscribe at any time.
Motor Racing Network
555 MRN Drive
Concord, NC 28027
www.mrn.com/Footer/Contact-Us.aspx
(704)262-6700
feedback@mrn.com
  • © 2015 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites