Long Pond II: Pontiac - Ken Schrader interview

Pocono could be good medicine for Ken Schrader. DETROIT, Mich., July 22, 2002 - In order to be successful in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, it takes a superior technical program. But it also requires a certain amount of an intangible called...

Pocono could be good medicine for Ken Schrader.

DETROIT, Mich., July 22, 2002 - In order to be successful in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, it takes a superior technical program. But it also requires a certain amount of an intangible called 'good luck.' As a veteran Pontiac Grand Prix driver, Ken Schrader has never doubted the mechanical assets he takes to the track. But in 2002, he has been denied his share of good fortune, which has left him more motivated than ever as the series heads to Pocono Raceway.

Schrader's hope this weekend is that he turns that motivation into his best finish of the 2002 season. Through 19 races, his best result is a 15th, posted May 5 during the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The good news for Schrader is that Pocono has led him to five poles, 23 top-10 starts and 13 top-10 finishes during his career. With a little luck and his Pocono record, Schrader is hoping to break out this weekend.

Thoughts From Ken Schrader, No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix:

DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM CAN GET A GOOD BREAK AT POCONO?

"You can get one anywhere. We've just got to do it. We've just got to get it.

"Some of it is luck, but most of it has just been goofy stuff. I've seen things happen to us this year that you just don't hear about very often. We've had everything from your standard flat tires and getting caught up in somebody else's problem, to our own roll bar padding coming loose and hitting the kill switch (at Talladega). I can't figure it out. But, I can't drive myself crazy over it, either. Things are going to happen. We're just hoping that it stops happening to us on a regular basis."

WHAT WORKS FOR YOU SO WELL AT POCONO?

"I don't know, because it is not necessarily a racetrack that I really look forward to going to. But, we do run decent up there and that gets you looking forward to going back.

"Why we're good there? I don't know. The first time I went there with the '25' car (at Hendrick Motorsports) we ran good. Maybe that just gave us enough confidence to keep running good all these years. We've run good up there ever since in everything we've run and that's exciting. I can't really put my finger on it, but we do look forward to going, no matter what the reason."

THE IMPACT OF AERODYNAMICS HAS INCREASED WITH TIME AT POCONO...HAS THAT MADE RACING AT POCONO MORE DIFFICULT?

"That has made racing everywhere more difficult - the faster tracks - more difficult. That has definitely been a factor. Because Pocono is so fast, aero issues have affected it more than a lot of the other places."

DOES THAT PLACE MORE IMPORTANCE ON QUALIFYING?

"Your performance on Friday is important for your starting spot, but we've seen winners this year come from way in the back. It still all boils down to how fast you are on Sunday. Obviously, track position plays a huge role and we've seen guys win because they had it and somebody else didn't. But, we've seen a lot of good cars come from the back and still get it done."

WHICH TURN IS THE HARDEST HERE?

"The hardest one always seems to be the one I'm approaching.

"I think turn one is the hardest. Turn one is where I'm going faster and it makes me think I'm going to hit harder. You're going to hit hard in all three of these. Turn one is the hardest, then the tunnel [turn] and then three is the easiest."

DOES THE DIFFICULTY IN EACH CORNER CHANGE WITH HOW YOUR CAR IS SET UP?

"If your car is off here, you can't find a turn where it feels right. It just doesn't feel right anywhere. The turns are so much different that you'd think your car would really feel a ton different every place. But if you get it right - wherever that 'right' is for your car - it gets around all three of them pretty good, but it ain't 'killer' in any of them."

HOW FRUSTRATING HAS YOUR RUN OF BAD LUCK BEEN THIS YEAR?

"It's frustrating, but it's not like we haven't been working hard. It's not like we don't have good equipment. It's not like we're fighting the same problem all the time.

"Sunday, when it's over, you've just got to load your stuff up and move on to the next one, and that's what we've had to do a bunch this year."

-pontiac racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader
Teams Hendrick Motorsports