CART Media Conference
August 22, 2000
T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everybody. Welcome to the CART Media Teleconference. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to join us today. Our guest today is driver Ken Brack of Team Rahal who recorded his third podium finish of the FedEx Championship Series Season by finishing third in Sunday's Motorola 220 at Road America. Good afternoon, Kenny. Thanks for being with us today.
KENNY BRACK: Good afternoon, thank you.
T.E. McHALE: Kenny, driver of the No. 8 Shell Ford Reynard has scored Championship points in 10 of his past 12 FedEx Championship Series starts and has finished among the Top-5 drivers in seven of those. He owns podium finishes of third at Nazareth and a career best second at Cleveland; in addition to Sunday's third place effort. Despite his road racing background as a driver in Europe, Kenny has been particularly outstanding in short oval competition this season with finishes of third at Nazareth and fourth at Milwaukee in Chicago. He leads all FedEx Championship Series rookie drivers in laps completed with 1,683 of a possible 1,012, ranking him 7th in the series overall. Kenny is also the commanding leader in the chase for the Jim Trueman Rookie-of-the-Year Award holding a 102.45 points advantage over second place Alex Tagliani of Players/Forsythe Racing. Heading into the September 3rd Molson Indy Vancouver Kenny stands fifth in the Championship with 102 but is just 4 points out of first place. The Molson Indy Vancouver, Round 15 of the FedEx Championship Series, will be televised live on ABC TV, on Sunday September 3rd, beginning at 4 P.M. Eastern time. With that, we will open it up to questions for Kenny.
Q. With all the turmoil going on with the silly season, a lot of drivers, rumor to be changing teams, how important is it for you and your team to pretty much be set for next year this early?
KENNY BRACK: I think it brings a little bit of a stability into the situation. But I think that the drivers that are involved in looking at our opportunities and stuff like, that they still focus on the racing. So I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference, really. But it is nice to not having to answer all these questions all the time and you are focusing on the racing. That is good at the racetrack, that is for sure.
Q. I noticed last weekend that a team, I guess it was a TV team from Sweden was interviewing you after the race. Do they follow you around to all the races or was that just a rare occurrence that they were there?
KENNY BRACK: No, Swedish TV actually broadcasts all the CART events this year in a shorter format and not live either. But it is on every Thursday night on prime time on the biggest channel in Sweden, all the CART events are broadcast, which is the first time in many, many years that Swedish TV has followed any American racing like that.
Q. While we are expecting you up in Vancouver here in a week and a half, every track to you this year has been -- it is your first experience other than some of the lesser series that you competed at Road America, Mid-Ohio. What do you know about Vancouver and what are your thoughts going in?
KENNY BRACK: Well, it is located in Canada, isn't it?
KENNY BRACK: (laughs) That is about it.
Q. How about the track, what do you know about the track?
KENNY BRACK: I have never been to Vancouver. I haven't seen the track. In fact, I haven't even right at this point seen any video footage from the track so I don't know anything about the track. But I will begin preparations after we get back from Laguna Seca. As of now of we have got to go there testing Thursday and Friday and after that I will familiarize myself with the Vancouver track looking at videos and stuff. But right now I don't know more than it is a street course.
Q. Following up, your assessment of yourself for the season; are you pretty happy with how things are going?
KENNY BRACK: I am very happy with the way things are going. If you look at the Championship this year, I think it has been a very predictable Championship. There is a lot of teams, a lot of drivers that really have - it seems to me, anyway - stepped up since last year because the series has been very unpredictable with a lot of different winners and no one has taken any kind of control of anything like Montoya did last year. It is very competitive. Montoya is still in the series so we haven't gotten any lesser competitive this year. And to be able to be a consistent challenger for the podium and Top-5s, in your first year, I am very, very satisfied with that. The only thing that is missing right now for me is a victory and if I can get the victory or two under my belt before the end of the year this season would have been, I mean, an amazing achievement for me, I think.
Q. Maybe you will have one in Vancouver.
KENNY BRACK: Yeah, I hope so. I like Canada a lot and that is a good start.
Q. Chicago is the last oval until Fontana. Everything else is road courses. You have come off the two natural terrain courses, you know, several years in the IRL; you are back where you can turn right and left. You obviously are adapting fairly well. How comfortable do you feel doing these?
KENNY BRACK: First of all, we have two ovals left also the St. Louis or whatever, before Fontana, but anyway, I have adapted very well to road courses, but we haven't been able to win a race, but we have actually fared better on the road courses and the ovals which I think may be a surprise to a lot of people. However, I didn't feel it that way when we started this program because I felt during winter testing that I got right back into road racing and with the help of Team Rahal that has obviously been a while, all these tracks and have a lot of, you know, technical knowledge about how to set the car up and stuff. We have been very competitive everywhere. I feel very comfortable racing road racing right now.
Q. It is clear you are happy that you came over with Team Rahal. What do you think about Bobby giving some of the guys some of the Atlantics - in Lights test sessions in the big course to show them off, were you there at that test session?
KENNY BRACK: No, I haven't -- I wasn't there for any testing. I wasn't even aware that he had tested guys from Atlantic, but I was certainly not there.
Q. Kenny, some teams are rumored to be changing chassis for next year. Although I don't think anything has been announced officially yet. With the testing limitations that are going to be on the teams next year, the cut back in in-season testing and the off-season being shortened because the first race is so early next year, do you think that is going to have an impact on those teams that decide to maybe change chassis or will it force teams to want to stick with the same chassis because of it?
KENNY BRACK: It is hard to say. It is anyone's guess really, but I think teams are looking at the different chassis manufacturers and probably we will have to take a decision what they think is the best car right now and who of the chassis manufacturer will have the best development program for next year and possibly be on and that is probably the most -- the best you can do. I think the testing still will be enough to sort out whatever chassis you have because even if you stay with the same chassis there is going to be changes during the off-season normally anyway and you still have -- I mean, last year's car and this year's car is not the same, so you have to test all that -- spend all that time testing and try to find out what the car is doing anyway. So I don't think that that is a big impact on what -- for that decision.
Q. From a driver's standpoint do you welcome these changes of having -- limited in season testing and pretty much know where you are going to be because the races are going to be the races and testing is going to be in the off-season only; is that better four as a driver?
KENNY BRACK: I think 22 races in an open-wheel car of the speed that a Champ Car is capable of going is an awful lot of races. After a race, it is like run running a marathon and we are basically running a marathon every Sunday. It is tough for the drivers. It is tough for the crews and but it is good for the fans hopefully and that is good. But it is an awful lot of races. And these days in racing it is not a season, so to speak, it is all year-round. We go off the last race and we have a couple of weeks off; then we start testing. So it is an all year-round sport, really, right now. I don't think it is going to change a whole lot of the workload from this year to next year although there is more races but it is less testing. This year it will be more testing and less racing. So it will probably be maybe the same.
Q. You have had now almost three quarters of the season working with Team Rahal both with Bobby as a hands-on car owner and Bobby as a CEO of CART. Can you talk a little bit about how you feel about being part of the team and the influence he has on it and the influence you think he has on the series?
KENNY BRACK: Well, first of all, I feel very happy being part of Team Rahal especially now since we know we are going to work together next year. We have -- we are building a good platform this year which I am sure we will have a good use even next year when we know each other even better, all that. Bobby has been a tremendous help. He brought me into CART. He knows a lot about CART Racing and that is a very nice thing to have in the team owner that a driver can ask -- I mean, I ask him about different courses we go to and try to find out what he knows and that is a big help, especially in the first year when you have never seen the courses before, some of them. As far as his involvement in the CART Series, I think that he is probably right now the best guy to do that because of his racing experience; he can see things from maybe a little different angle than just a pure businessman would do and that may be very valuable to the CART Series in the years to come. So I think it is all very good, actually.
Q. He certainly hasn't -- your team hasn't been short changed because he has been doing it. You have been doing quite well, so good luck again.
KENNY BRACK: I think that in the short-term it won't affect the team too much because Scott Roembke and all the other guys at Team Rahal, they are very skilled individuals and can run the team but hopefully in the long run Bobby will come soon because I don't know what he will do to -- even in the long run if he wouldn't.
T.E. McHALE: With that, we will wrap it up for this afternoon. Kenny, thanks for being with us this afternoon. Best of luck in the Molson Indy Vancouver and the remainder of the FedEx Championship Series season.
KENNY BRACK: Thank you.
T.E. McHALE: Thanks to all of you who joined us this afternoon. Have a good week and we will talk to you next week.
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