Las Vegas: Ken Schrader race report

SCHRADER FINISHES ON THE LEAD LAP in 21st POSITION BAM Racing gains valuable points and experience LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 2, 2008) -- Every member of the BAM Racing team has been laboring each week to put the best possible racecar on ...

SCHRADER FINISHES ON THE LEAD LAP in 21st POSITION
BAM Racing gains valuable points and experience

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 2, 2008) -- Every member of the BAM Racing team has been laboring each week to put the best possible racecar on the track, Las Vegas was no exception. For the first time this year, the effort showed in qualifying when Ken Schrader recorded the 19th quickest time in the Qtrax.com Dodge. In the UAW-Dodge 400, the crew's hard work along with some savvy moves from the wily veteran netted the team a 21st place finish.

BAM Racing's January test in Las Vegas paid dividends when it came to Friday's practice session. While other teams struggled with extremely loose racecars (several cars either spun or contacted the wall) the Qtrax.com Dodge performed great. In fact, the team's first lap on the track was 12th quickest time at that point. Adjustments were made throughout the two practice sessions, ranging from shocks, springs, air pressure and front downforce to make the car perform better.

Since qualifying in California was rained out, this was the first session of "knock-out" qualifying. All teams that were outside the top 35 in points qualified together at the end of the session meaning that after eight cars had made their runs, the remaining cars would either knock someone out of the race, or knock themselves out. This provided intense drama as well as a backwards lap and an accident. Schrader was the first car out and his lap of 179.994 mph eventually held up for the 19th starting spot. John Andretti botched his first lap, then turned around and made a backwards lap to get up enough speed to have a decent second lap; unfortunately it didn't work for him. Also, Johnny Sauter got lose coming off the second turn during his first timed lap; he lost control and crushed the front end of the Wood Brothers' Ford.

In the team meeting before the race on Sunday, crew chief David Hyder gave credit to the team, "I want to thank each and every one of you for the effort. Our shop guys have worked extremely hard, they had to cut a lot of stuff up. But this is why, theoretically we qualified up front; when you consider the cars we outran and their test budgets and R&D teams, we out-qualified a lot of good cars." Schrader added, "Those cars look friggin' beautiful -- and they run a TON better than they did."

Schrader continued his praise on the pace lap, saying, "This is an awesome piece. You guys have done a great job!"

As the race started, Schrader got into a good rhythm and turned consistent lap times. Since the car was set up so well, the team opted not to pit during the first caution on lap 10. A long green flag run followed and Schrader made his first stop on lap 54, pitting from 6th position. The crew changed 4 tires and added fuel but made no changes to the chassis. When the day's second caution came out on lap 70, the Qtrax.com car was posted in 15th, one of only 16 cars on the lead lap. Again Schrader asked for "NO changes" to the chassis as he pitted under caution.

When the race got back under green, Hyder coached Schrader by calling out lap times and Schrader responded, turning consistently fast laps throughout the entire race. A gambit to lead the race and gain 5 points backfired since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had the same idea and ended up leading the next 14 laps. The problem then became that Schrader was the last car to pit, so he restarted last on the lead lap. Although he restarted in 17th, it meant that he lined up on the outside of the 17th row, effectively restarting 34th. Schrader, realizing that "cautions breed cautions" reminded team spotter Ross Shattuck, "Okay, we're back here in the danger zone!"

Sure enough, Schrader barely missed the spinning car of Patrick Carpentier which brought out the 5th caution. It was so close that the FOX broadcast crew replayed it several times and awarded Schrader the Allstate Good Hands Driver of the Race.

The rest of the race became a series of caution periods separated by brief segments of racing. The crew constantly adjusted the car, but after peaking as high as 2nd, could not get out of the teens. After the 8th caution, the BAM Racing Dodge restarted in 16th on lap 228. From that point on, Schrader had a problem with the brakes which kept him from progressing through the field. At one point Hyder suggested, "I don't know if you can give it to me or not, but I need about two-tenths to get those cars in front of us!" Schrader responded, "Might have a problem there, Slick!" Ultimately Schrader finished the race with an unblemished racecar in 21st, the final car in the lead lap.

The good finish resulted in BAM Racing climbing the rankings in team owner points to 41st position, just 69 points out of the crucial 35th position. Being able to run the entire race and finish in the lead lap at Las Vegas has not only bolstered confidence, it also has given the team a wealth of working knowledge about how the C.O.T. reacts on an intermediate track. This bodes well for the team heading into races at Atlanta, Bristol and Martinsville, where both BAM Racing and Schrader have excellent records.

-credit: bam

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Ken Schrader , Johnny Sauter