Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
Kenny Brack Sets Fastest Qualifying Speed Following Lengthy Absence
Kenny Brack made a remarkable return to Indy Car racing in May in what could also have been his swan song.
After sitting out 2004 while recovering from massive injuries sustained in the 2003 Indy Racing League finale at Texas, the 39-year-old Swede stepped in to replace defending Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice, who was knocked out of this year's race in an accident during practice.
Brack was offered his old seat with Rahal Letterman Racing and, following just two days of practice, went out and posted the fastest qualifying run of the month at 227.598 miles per hour in the Pioneer/Argent Panoz Honda.
Because he didn't run until the second weekend of time trials, the 1999 Indy 500 winner started 23rd instead of on the pole position but had worked his way up to 14th before a mechanical failure forced him out after 92 laps.
"I wanted to win, of course, but I got the opportunity to prove to myself that I'm as fast now as I ever was, so, at the end of the day, that's a victory for me," said Brack, who was turning laps of 225 mph during the race.
"I was able to go home and sleep better than I had in a long time." A nut on the steering arm worked loose to make Kenny's car unsafe so he parked it and then stuck around to cheer on teammates Vitor Meira [who finished second] and Danica Patrick [fourth].
"I think we could have been where Vitor and Danica ended up if everything had gone our way, but that's racing and I've had my share of good luck," he said.
The 1998 IRL champ was lucky to have survived his horrific accident at Texas, which left him with fractures of his spine, legs and feet that ultimately required eight surgeries. But Brack pushed himself hard to get back into racing shape and was ready when Bobby Rahal dialed his number.
"I didn't feel physically ready last year," said Brack, who tested below the track record at Richmond International Raceway in the summer of 2004. "I had tried to put something together a couple months back for Indy, but it fell through so I really had written it off.
"When Bobby called, my wife [Anita] wasn't real happy, but she knew it was right for me and I knew I was ready."
And, even though the race didn't turn out exactly as he had hoped, it was hard not to call this comeback a success. "I did it my way and worked my way back," said Brack. "I don't know what's going to happen in the future but it's in my hands -- nobody else's. I don't know if I'll race Indy Cars again. Who knows with me?
"But I enjoyed my career here, regardless."