'I've been practicing drinking milk'
Brack steals 83rd Indy 500 after Gordon runs out of fuel
Posted: Monday August 16, 1999 05:06 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (CNN/SI) -- It's been 22 years since A.J. Foyt visited Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Victory Lane, but he had no trouble finding his way Sunday.
One of his drivers, Sweden's Kenny Brack, beat him there, claiming his first Indianapolis 500 triumph as a driver and his boss' first as a team owner.
Foyt, who won his fourth and last Indy 500 in 1977, eventually commandeered the traditional milk jug. The bemused Brack followed Foyt's celebration cues, perhaps still in shock from the finish. Lurking in second place, he'd grabbed the win when Robby Gordon ran out of fuel on lap 199 of the 200-lap race.
"I don't know what this means yet, but I've been practicing drinking milk for a week," Brack said. "A.J. gave me a fantastic car. Thanks a lot to all these wonderful people."
Gordon skipped a late pit stop and tried to go the final 32 laps on one tank of fuel, but his engine sputtered with one lap remaining and he pulled into the pits.
"We knew what it was going to take to win this race," Gordon said. "It just slipped away."
The decision to gamble came from team owner John Menard.
"We knew it was close," he said. "But it's the Indy 500 and you've got to go for it. I'm sorry for Robby. We ran him out of fuel. I just feel like crying."
While Gordon and Menard commiserated, Brack and Foyt celebrated.
"I don't know what kind of [fuel] tank he had in there, but I didn't think he could do more than 30 laps," said Brack (pronounced Breck).
His win was only part of Sunday's success story for the owner. Foyt drivers Billy Boat and Robbie Buhl finished third and sixth, respectively.
"Kenny did all the work today, but really I was driving just as hard as he was in the pits," Foyt said as the No. 14 car -- his old number as a driver -- was mobbed.
On a day when there was often more action in the pits than on the 2 1/2-mile oval, including an accident in which a crewman was critically injured, there were numerous disappointments. Most of the pre-race favorites fell out of the race because of their own mistakes or mechanical problems.
Arie Luyendyk, Greg Ray and Eddie Cheever, three of the front-runners at the halfway point, were sidelined within minutes of each other.
Sunday was the last ride for Luyendyk, the 45-year-old two-time Indy champion who said he would retire after the checkered flag. But the Flying Dutchman didn't go out of his 15th and final Indy 500 the way he and many fans had hoped.
Leading the race, Luyendyk tried to make an inside pass on Tyce Carlson, lost control in Carlson's wake and slammed into the wall. He stepped out of the battered car quickly and waved to the fans, but his frustration was apparent as he pulled off his driving gloves and banged them onto one of he safety trucks.
"Really, I feel stupid right now," Luyendyk said. "I should have known better than to race the traffic like that. I went underneath Tyce and I thought he would make room for me. He came down and when I touched the brakes, it made me spin out. I should have known better.
"I was having so much fun. It was the most fun Indy 500 I've ever had. The car was phenomenal. It's going to be a long summer, thinking how it could have been."
Ray, who took over the lead when Luyendyk crashed, wound up just as disappointed moments later. Following a routine pit stop under the caution flag, Ray darted out of his pit stall and banged into the side of Mark Dismore, who was in the fast lane heading toward his pit.
Ray immediately got out of his car and strode away, leaving his helmet on to keep anyone from seeing his emotion.
"I don't know what happened," he said, his voice still muffled by his helmet. "I was told to go and another car came up and hit me ... I just want to cry."
That left Cheever in charge, hoping to become the first driver to win consecutive races at Indy since Al Unser Sr. in 1970-71. He fell behind Brack, but was still solidly in the hunt when his engine, one of only three Infinitis in the field, belched smoke and died on lap 140.
It was considered chancy for Cheever to switch this season from Aurora engines, which have won every IRL race the past two years, to the non-winning Infitinis.
"The engine started vibrating and that was it," Cheever said. "The Infiniti is definitely capable of winning races."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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