CART Media Conference
February 26, 2001
T.E. McHALE: We will welcome our next guest, Kenny Brack of Team Rahal, the fourth place finisher in the 2000 FexEx Championship Series and winner of the Jim Trueman rookie of the year award. Good afternoon to Kenny, thanks for joining us today.
KENNY BRACK: Good afternoon.
T.E. McHALE: Kenny, driver of the No. 8 Shell Ford-Lola is entering his second season in the FedEx Championship Series and his second with Team Rahal. He put together a spectacular rookie season which included podium finishes of second at Cleveland and Australia and third at Nazareth and Road America. He had nine Top 5 finishes overall and scored championship points in 15 of 20 starts. Kenny, and defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske, are the two CART drivers who have been invited to participate in the prestigious International Race of Champions Series. Kenny finished four in the IROC season opener at Daytona International Speedway on February 16th. He finished fourth in the FedEx Championship Series in 2000 with 135 points.
Q. Can you put in perspective what it's going to be like the second time through the series, now that you know some of the tracks? No matter what anybody says, that still has to be the toughest thing, going to places the first time.
KENNY BRACK: You know, you have to spend so much energy to learn the tracks and be on top of the game when you get to the tracks. Still, even though you do that, you're still going to struggle for the first (inaudible) because you haven't seen the course. Of course, we're going to go to some new tracks, so that will be the same for everybody. But I think that this year I know all the tracks good and I know what to expect and I know how (inaudible). I can start putting a plan together a little bit earlier for (inaudible) last year. I think it's going to be a big help this year.
Q. Do you prefer all the testing right now instead of having it dispersed through the season? Is that better for the drivers?
KENNY BRACK: I don't think it's better for the drivers or the team. It's just the way the rules are. They're the same for everybody. We just have to make the best of them, you know. In one way it's good to not have any testing, especially when you're doing 21, 22 races, because that's an awful lot of racing and an awful lot of work to be done with that. On the other hand, you don't get the testing done before the season, you have question marks and things like that. It's going to be very difficult to rectify any of those problems like that. You've got to do that on the Friday before the race but it's not always you have time. Fridays don't leave that much time for testing. It's always under a very pressurized environment.
Q. I wonder if you could talk, there's been a lot of changes with Bobby gone, some new people. Hello?
KENNY BRACK: Hello.
Q. I don't know if you caught that.
KENNY BRACK: No.
Q. Could you talk about there's been some changes in the team, Bobby is gone. Could you kind of talk how the team is getting along and developing.
KENNY BRACK: (Audio cutting in and out.)
T.E. McHALE: Kenny, are you still with us?
KENNY BRACK: Yes.
T.E. McHALE: Your connection is really bad. We're trying to do something about improving that. In the meantime we will take another question.
Q. Can you talk about your test at Texas? You were the first one to obviously test in Champ cars. Based on your previous experience in the IRL, can you have any kind of prediction on what's race is going to be like?
KENNY BRACK: I mean, the track is the same as I remembered it, except that it's a little bit more bumpy now than it was a couple of years back. That's something that we talked about with the guys at Texas. They said they were going to look into that and see if there was something they could do before we get there. Apart from that, it's the same. I think it's going to be a good race. We run slightly different wing packages on that course, obviously. I think that perhaps the race will be a little different than what the last IRL race was. I think you'll see probably something close to a Michigan or a Fontana race, somewhere close to that sort of scenario. That's my guess.
T.E. McHALE: At this point we'll open it up to general questions for Kenny.
Q. You've had a chance to test the Lola. Could you compare at all the performance of that versus the Reynard? Is one better on the ovals versus the road course at all? Are they pretty much equal?
KENNY BRACK: It's a little early to say because I think we have to wait until the racing season starts to see where we're really at. My feeling is that we've had an easier time to find our feet on the oval testing we've done than on the road racing. That doesn't mean that the car is better or worse in one of the two tracks. It's probably got to do a little bit also with our experience and how to set it up, you know, to learn, to understand the car, what it needs in different circumstances, different corners, tracks, et cetera, et cetera. Right now I think it's a good car. It's got many positives.
Q. I believe you raced against Dale Earnhardt in the IROC series, is that correct?
KENNY BRACK: That's correct.
Q. Could you comment on your feelings of what happened there? How well did you get to know him? Do you have any comments on what you thought of him as a driver, as a person?
KENNY BRACK: I mean, I can't say that I knew him very well, but I (inaudible) '99 season, I raced with him and tested with him in Daytona, obviously this first IROC race. My view of him, he was a very nice guy that always, you know, was practical joker, always very close to a smile, but he was a hard racer. You know, when he got in the car, he wanted to win. He was in my mind probably one of the toughest or maybe the toughest drivers that I drove with in the IROC from the stock car (inaudible). He always bumped and rubbed. I feel that he was a great driver basically. I mean, he was one of the icons in the motor sport, obviously. I was very sorry to hear what happened on Sunday there, you know, for his family, everybody, his fans and team. It's a terrible thing.
Q. Talking about that bumping and rubbing, there's been some talk about the amount of bumping and rubbing that goes on in the stock car world. You came from the open-wheel series, first time in a stock car type of car, did you find the bumping and rubbing to be unsettling to you? What's your feeling on that? Is that okay? Was it good?
KENNY BRACK: I mean, looking at it from a joy standpoint, I don't think you could have more joy than when you're behind the wheel of an IROC car. I mean, pure fun. When you get down there, all the cars are prepared as equal as possible, so you never have to worry about (inaudible) or anything like that. You just jump in, you drive as hard as you can, and you get to drive with a lot of people. Bumping and rubbing is part of the game. It's a lot of fun basically. It's more like going -- when you go to drive go-carts or something, you have a lot of fun with it. When we go to race, there's another dimension added. You know, you have to do all the testing, you have to think about everything very carefully. It's a lot more work that way. I certainly enjoy driving IROC as much as I guess the other drivers do.
Q. I want to ask you a little bit about the seats that they have in those IROC cars. They're kind of different from what you guys have in the CART cars, the other IRL cars that you used to drive. Talk a little about that and do you kind of wish you could blend the form-fitting seat you have in the CART car, to see something like that in an IROC car?
KENNY BRACK: The seats they have in those cars, what they used them for, you probably couldn't have a seat like that in the open-wheel car because obviously the car is a lot different and there's other -- you have a different seating position and all that. Yeah, you probably could introduce form-fitting seat in a stock car, but that's not the way it is right now.
Q. What I was getting at, is there some of the best of what you guys have in the champ car that they might be able to put in there? The position has to stay the same because you have to shift the car. There might be some things they could do differently in those seats, no?
KENNY BRACK: Well, you can always do things differently. I think all (inaudible), NASCAR, IRL, whatever, work hard to try to make the safest environment for their drivers possible, because obviously nobody wants to lose their drivers. I mean, I really don't know the ins-and-outs or how to take these decisions and stuff like that really.
Q. On the HANS device, the NASCAR drivers were saying it restricts their movement a lot. Did you find yourself turning your head a lot more when you were driving the IROC car versus an open-wheel car?
KENNY BRACK: Yeah, you do. Of course, in open-wheel car, if you look at our seating position, we have only maybe, I don't know, maybe half an inch on each side of our helmet anyway when we sit there. We have all that protection around us. In a stock car, because of the nature of the car and the nature of the racing and everything else that goes on, you sometimes move your head sideways in looking at stuff to know what's going on around you. You don't have that movement. If you don't have that, maybe that wouldn't be so good for that kind of racing. I mean, I don't know. It's difficult to say. I've never driven a NASCAR car. They may look a little different than the other cars. Who knows?
T.E. McHALE: Thank you to Kenny Brack for joining us this afternoon. Kenny, thanks a lot for being with us. Best of luck in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season.
KENNY BRACK: Thank you.
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