KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON HIS OUTLOOK FOR TOMORROW'S RACE "We're excited because we've got a decent starting spot, but also because we had a solid run at Atlanta. They are somewhat comparable tracks and we had a solid...
KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON HIS OUTLOOK FOR TOMORROW'S RACE
"We're excited because we've got a decent starting spot, but also because we had a solid run at Atlanta. They are somewhat comparable tracks and we had a solid run down there. We didn't qualify as good down there, but we had a solid run. Then we came in here, were able to improve on qualifying and think we've got a better race car, too."
HOW REFRESHING HAVE THE PAST THREE OR FOUR WEEKS BEEN?
"Very much. We had the crew chief change going into Atlanta and then we had a solid run there and finished eighth. At Darlington, we ran 13th, but we were solid all day. I think a half a lap was the most we were ever behind the leader. That was a good solid run. At Bristol, we qualified 10th and had a good car. We just had one of those Bristol things happen. After we spent - well, it wasn't really we; I just kind of sat in it - after the guys spent 150 laps fixing it we went back out and it ran as good as it did before. "Then, to come here and have a solid qualifying effort - yeah, we're on the excited side."
ONE YEAR AGO WAS ADAM PETTY'S DEBUT HERE. COMMENT ON JUST HOW ROUGH IT'S
BEEN SINCE THAT?
"It's been an extremely rough year. Adam, and Kenny [Irwin, Jr.], and Tony [Roper] and Dale [Earnhardt] and that Toledo ARCA race - that's an awful lot to go through in a year. It's hard to explain because these things just didn't start hitting harder in one year. There is some other stuff that went on there.
"I heard Bill France, Jr., say at the Bud Shootout breakfast down in Daytona that it's not very good logic, but sometimes when it rains it does just pour, and we got hit hard here all at once. I just came from the NASCAR trailer and was looking at some tapes of testing they've been doing. A lot of people look at them (NASCAR), shake their heads and go, 'Nothing's happening.' But, they are wrecking cars [in tests] right and left, and checking on walls and different structures and stuff, and it's not their place to tell the world what they're doing. Any of us can go in there and find out how it's going. I'm very proud of what they're doing. "It's just hard to make 3,400 pounds hit concrete -- or any kind of retaining wall -- easy at 180 miles per hour. It just doesn't happen, so it's more than a little problem to try to solve."
IN GENERAL, DOES THE NEW TIRE ALLOW A LITTLE MORE STRATEGY TO BE USED?
"We're seeing that they react different at different tracks. Bristol was by far the most unusual that we've seen this year. But I love the tires. These harder tires have really put a premium on the car working. You can't just live off those soft tires. It's also made it a little less confusing with a little less than half as many tire codes as we had before. I'm a big fan of it."
DOES THAT PLAY TO YOUR FAVOR?
"It must. We've got other stuff going on, too. But it's nice when you're on the same tire for four weeks out of six. You can kind of figure out what you're supposed to be doing."
IS THE TALENT OF THE WINSTON CUP FIELD DEEPER THAN IT WAS A COUPLE YEARS
"There is no doubt about it. When we started the Bristol race last week, Elliott Sadler wouldn't have been the number one pick to win, but there would have been no one that said, 'Elliott can't win this race.' And they did, through strategy and through running good. It's not like they just plain, old stole the thing. They put themselves in a position to try to hold everybody off and they did for a long time, and actually got away from them some. They just plain, old won it. They didn't steal a thing. "And how many cars and teams are there that can do that now? How deep is the field? Pretty deep."
RON HORNADAY, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
DO YOU LIKE TEXAS?
"I like it. It just doesn't like me. We've run good here in the trucks. We've run good here in the Busch car. We just haven't finished well here. We just need to finish a good race here."
ANY ADDED PRESSURE RUNNING IN A.J. FOYT'S HOME STATE THIS WEEKEND?
"No. A.J. gives you pressure no matter where you run. He just wants you run good and do the best you can. As long as you give 110 percent, that's all he can ask for."
ON THE COMPETITION LEVEL IN WINSTON CUP
"I'm just having a blast. I'm chasing my dream. If this is the way it's been, I wish I could have done it 10 years ago. Right now I'm having the time of my life. It's always been one of my goals and always been my dream. Right now, I'm having fun. Each week we're getting this Conseco Pontiac better and better. If we get up there and start knocking fenders with the best of them up front, that's what I'm going to be looking for."
ON THE NEW TIRE
"Goodyear has got a great tire. At Bristol, we ran with the '21' car all day long, and I think our car was even a little better than theirs. It was pit strategy that won those guys that race and that's what it takes to win these races. "Goodyear has done a great job with that tire and it's showing. It's a lot more fun to race when you can go out there with some strategy. It's putting some of this back in the pit crew's hands instead of keeping it all in the driver's."