DETROIT (January 6, 2000) - Two new additions to an expanded "WideTrack Attack" are wasting no time breaking in their new rides for 2000.
Veteran Ken Schrader and rookie Mike Bliss will be among those NASCAR Winston Cup drivers participating in a two-day test session next Monday and Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway.
Schrader, who moves into the No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix, is preparing for his 16th full NASCAR Winston Cup season. Schrader has shown plenty of early season muscle over the years at Daytona, with three consecutive Daytona 500 poles (1988-90), two consecutive Busch Clash victories ('89-90) and two Gatorade 125-mile Qualifier wins ('87 and '89).
Bliss enters NASCAR Winston Cup racing on a full-time basis in 2000 as a member of one of the most heralded rookie classes in series' history. The former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and USAC open-wheel standout will be behind the wheel of A.J. Foyt's No. 14 Conseco Pontiac Grand Prix. During his five seasons in the truck series, Bliss collected seven wins and never finished outside the top 10 in points.
THOUGHTS FROM KEN SCHRADER ON TESTING AND 2000 SEASON...
...hopes for next week's Daytona test session:
"We're just going to try to get accustomed to the new rules. Plus, Sammy (Johns) and I haven't worked with the Pontiac Grand Prix before, so we're going to have a few things to learn there as well. We've got a bunch of ideas on what we're going to find out. But the biggest thing we'll be looking at is how we stack up against everybody else."
...making the transition to MB2 Motorsports:
"Basically, Sammy has spent the winter getting used to everyone in the shop. Starting out, we're making some minor changes. We're not re-inventing the wheel or anything. There's a lot to do. It's been plenty busy."
...continuing his working relationship with crew chief Sammy Johns:
"I just really enjoyed working with him last year. We felt like we communicated well. I was excited when I found out that he was going to be able to come over here with me. It's a good fit."
...joining a single-car team after being part of a multi-car operation:
"I've had teammates. I haven't had teammates. It just depends on how good your team is. There are definitely advantages to being involved in a multi-car team if you're able to take advantage of them. But just the fact that you have a teammate is a long way from being a help."
...goals for the 2000 season:
"We want to be solidly in the top 10, and running like we want to. We want to be contending."
...the emphasis on starting the season with a good run in Daytona:
"It's 1/34th of the season. It's not a 'deal-breaker' if we don't have the kind of run that we want to down there. After a few weeks, we'll get a better feel for where we're at. You can be in bad shape in points early on and still know you're good. You might just be hit with some bad finishes for whatever reason. But the main thing is that you'll know how you've run and what you'll be capable of."
THOUGHTS FROM MIKE BLISS ON TESTING AND 2000 SEASON...
...mindset as the team heads to its first test of 2000:
"It's a little scary right now, especially when you look at us on paper. We're a new team with a rookie driver and doing everything in-house. In a perfect world, I wish we had about six more months to get ready, but Daytona is almost on us. For me though, it's good motivation. Everyone around here is 'up.' We know we're going to run good. We just know that we need to have some patience."
...goals for the 2000 season:
"We want to make every race to start with. We have no points, so we need to make sure we get off to a good start. We just need to start building some points. If we can make all the races, qualify well and improve our race set-ups on this Grand Prix every week, that will be great. But the guys on this team - it's not like they started racing yesterday. Everyone of them has knowledge, so we'll be alright."
...the battle for rookie of the year:
"Our rookie battle will be a championship in itself. I think there are a couple of guys that are going to steal a lot of the hype, but that's fine with me. I want people to be saying, 'Wow-where did they come from,' and then start surprising everybody."
...the transition from racing trucks to racing Winston Cup stock cars:
"You're definitely looking for the same feel in the race car. They have a lot of similarities. I really think the trucks are actually a little tougher to drive than the cars, but the cars allow you to drive harder, so you have to be careful to not go past your limits."
...drawing on his open-wheel background:
"We raced a lot when we were doing the open-wheel stuff. We raced sprint cars, midgets and champ cars, and we raced them on both dirt and pavement, so it really helped you adapt. It taught me to be versatile - to move around on the racetrack. Basically, running those cars teaches you how to race, and that's what you have to do to be successful in Winston Cup."
...working with team owner A.J. Foyt:
"A.J. knows that when I get in a race car, I want to win. I am very excited about working with A.J. He's a true racer and a legend. A.J. is someone that we've all looked up to, and he's focused on building a winning team."