KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: YOU DIDN'T TEST AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY, BUT YOUR TEAMMATE, JOHNNY BENSON, DID...WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW TRACK? "Johnny spoke very highly of it. They went out there and tested. We went to ...
KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: YOU DIDN'T TEST AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY, BUT YOUR TEAMMATE, JOHNNY BENSON, DID...WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW TRACK? "Johnny spoke very highly of it. They went out there and tested. We went to Kentucky [Speedway} just to kind of shake our Kansas City car down. But Johnny really likes the track. He thought it would be a little wider track, as far as the groove widening out some, right off the bat, so we're looking forward to it."
WITH YOU BEING FROM FENTON, MISSOURI, DO YOU LOOK AT THIS AS YOUR "HOME TRACK?" "Between Indianapolis and Kansas City, we're probably right in the middle. If it was in Kansas City, Mo., (instead of Kansas City, Kan.) it would be the right state. But we raced around there quite a bit when were getting started, so it would probably be more 'home' than anywhere else."
ON RACING AT PHOENIX "I most definitely do enjoy Phoenix. Traditionally, it's not the type of track I like. I'm not big into the flatter tracks. But I think I just like it so much because it was the first big place I went out of town to go racing. I couldn't believe we were towing all the way from Missouri to Phoenix for a race. That was huge back then.
HOW MANY OF THE FOUR RACES THAT WEEKEND ARE YOU GOING TO RUN? "We're going to run all four cars out there. We're bringing a Southwest Tour car of our own, we're brining a Craftsman Truck of our own and a Busch Grand National car of our own (in addition to the No. 36 M&M's Pontiac)."
ON KEVIN HARVICK'S PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR SINCE TAKING OVER FOR THE LATE DALE EARNHARDT "Kevin has done a wonderful job. Heck, they've won two races already. He jumped in and ran good right off the bat. It helps him a ton that the same owns (Richard Childress) owns the Busch team and the Winston Cup team. That makes it a lot easier to pull off what he is doing this year."
WERE YOU ENCOURAGED TO SEE CRASH BOX DATA RECORDERS BEING TESTED LAST WEEKEND AT DOVER? "I wasn't really aware of that and I heard about it the other day. I know it's something that we knew we were going to look into big-time for next year to supposedly get started. I think the whole Earnhardt investigation, which I thought they (NASCAR) did a wonderful job on that - because we know the end results of these wrecks, but trying to figure out more of what is actually happening inside the car during the wreck, I think the black boxes will be real good for that. It can just help our sport and bring more safety to it."
ON SEEING KANSAS SPEEDWAY BUILT IN THE MIDWEST "Obviously the Kansas City track will be very well supported. Right above Kansas City there, in Iowa, there are as many 'weekly show' tracks as there are in about any state. I think Pennsylvania and New York are right up at the top of the list, too. But it (the Midwest) was a big hole in the country. We went from Indianapolis to Phoenix without a Winston Cup place in there."
"I think there are a lot of other holes in the country that could support a Winston Cup race, if they had the facility there. It's just that when we think about our sport and the rate that it's growing - it's grown so much even in the last 10 years - it's really exploded. But it's still a young sport. It's only a little more than 50 years old and started right there in the southeast. I think we are just starting to see it expand more and more.
IS THERE REALLY ROOM TO ADD ANY MORE DATES? "The Frances have obviously done a real good job of leading our sport and it's hard to break tradition with a lot of the places that we've gone for a number of years. I would like to see us go to more places and maybe just go once a year to some of them. The response that we get when we got to Watkins Glen and the response at Phoenix and some of these places when we go one time is really huge. I think we could definitely keep filling up the calendar, but there aren't a whole lot of weekends left."
ON THE THOUGHT OF AUTO RACING AS AN OLYMPIC SPORT "I don't see that really working that well. IROC does an awfully good job of bringing in people from other racing series and putting them all together. The expense of something like that would just be astronomical to pull off something like that. And by no means is it fair to ask a Winston Cup driver to go run an IRL car, just like it's not fair to ask a Formula One driver to go run a Cup car or even an IROC car. The IRL and CART drivers that IROC has been using have participated or practiced a lot in the IROC cars and they are up to speed on them. But everyone is so used to driving their type of vehicles now and there is so much difference between them that I don't really see how you could pull that off. I'm not big-time into other sports, but most of the other sports are either a team deal or just one person against the other and in our sport, equipment is such a big factor. Minute differences between the equipment would make such a difference that I don't know if you could really pull that off."
ON THE GOOD STORY THAT EMERGED FROM DALE EARNHARDT, JR., WINNING A RACE NAMED AFTER CAL RIPKEN, JR. "I think you could make a story out of any of those type situations - races like that. It would be pretty hard to pick a Winston Cup driver whose family hasn't been in the sport for a while. There were a lot of other people that were in Sunday's race that could have won it whole family has been in the sport forever, also."
HAS THE RACING GOTTEN MORE AGGRESSIVE OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS? "I don't see a big change. I've been doing this for 15 or 16 years and we've all been running into each other ever since I started. I don't see a big change. I think our sport has grown so much and a lot more people are watching, so everything that happens now is a bigger deal. But I think it's always like it has been."
ON NASCAR'S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THEY FOUND A PARTIALLY TORN SEATBELT IN JEREMY MAYFIELD'S WRECKED CAR AFTER SUNDAY'S RACE "I just heard about that this morning. Obviously, it is very much a concern. I'll go up to their shop and look at that car and come to my own conclusions at to why I think it happened or didn't happen.
"I've got Simpson products in my vehicle and still have them in there. Until I look at it myself, I'm not going to form an opinion. But, yes, it's definitely a concern."
DID YOU THINK THIS PROBLEM HAD BEEN ELIMINATED? "Definitely a lot was learned from the investigation. Some of the stuff that we found out in the investigation we already knew. But what a lot of it still comes down to is driver preference and it's not black and white. There is not necessarily a right way and a wrong way. It's the way you feel comfortable with and what's worked for you over the years. It's definitely something that we're going to pay a tremendous amount of attention to because these cars are not going to stop hitting walls and we need to be as tight in there and remain as tight as we can through the whole incident."
DO YOU QUESTION THE INTEGRITY OF SIMPSON PRODUCTS AT ALL? "No. I've worn Simpson products and used Simpson products in vehicles that I've driven for a number of years. Bill Simpson has done more for the safety of automobile racing than any other manufacturer that's involved in the sport. I'm not going to sit here and say that it's not a situation that maybe now needs to be looked at or whatever. But like I say, I've still got all Simpson products in my vehicles as we speak and I don't questions Bill's products at all."
ON THE RESCHEDULED RACE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE "First off, my job is to drive the car. I don't do the schedules, so whenever they say to race, I'm going to be there hopefully. You've got to go with the next available weekend and that's the next available weekend. Now, it's a question of whether you want to run it Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Personally, I would just as soon fly up there Thursday evening, do the deal Friday and go home and have the weekend. Thursday, obviously everyone is off work. I think the race at Loudon has a tremendous amount of people that drive up there. They've got Thursday afternoon and Thursday evening to drive up there and run the race Friday. We've got Saturday as an easy rain date or snow date or cold date or whatever, if that is a factor. That gives them even Sunday to get home if they need Saturday, also. No matter when that race was rescheduled - and it needed to be rescheduled because we have a 36-race schedule and we need to run them, all 36 races - no matter when it is, everyone isn't going to be happy with it. I think they picked as good a date as they can and we'll just go up and do it. I ran a race at Nazareth, Pa., on Dec. 4 one year and it was 70 degrees and beautiful."
WHAT KINDS OF PROBLEMS MIGHT THE NEW KANSAS SPEEDWAY PRESENT TO DRIVERS THIS WEEKEND? "The only problem - and it won't be a problem with the track - is just not having run there before. NASCAR is giving us an open practice Thursday, so it wasn't necessary that we had to go up there and test. We've got Thursday afternoon to sort out the cars and become familiar with the track. The track has already been raced on by the trucks and the IRL. There were no problems with the track coming apart. There were no problems with bumps. You just don't hear anything but good stuff about the track, so I don't foresee anything that would give us problems. The problem is that some of the guys are going to figure it out instantly and some guys aren't."
ON LAST WEEKEND'S RED, WHITE AND BLUE PAINT SCHEME AT DOVER "M&M's made that call, which I thought was very special of them. Obviously, all the sponsors in our sport have huge financial commitments to it and involvement. Whenever they decide to do something like that and just leave their name and logos completely off the car, I think that says a lot. Mars, the parent company of M&M's, is privately held and they're just a good family."
WHAT TYPE OF TRACK CHALLENGES YOU MOST AS A DRIVER? "I don't think it makes a lot of difference. They're challenging every week. Obviously, you have your favorites. Favorites are wonderful. The ones you don't like are what you have to eliminate because you tend not to do as good at the ones you don't like. I personally like the rules package that we have at Talladega. Now, it's correct that we're all bunched together and if somebody running 12th bumps somebody that's running 11th, there is a good chance that 20 of us will wind up in a pile laying in the middle of the back straightaway. But, we've been doing that for years. They've been doing that since they built those places; there have been multi-car wrecks. The rules don't cause the wrecks. Somebody running into somebody is what causes the wrecks. I like the rules because we've struggled a little bit qualifying at Daytona and Talladega and have always been able to use the draft and get right up there towards the end of the race. I think it's fun. I think those races are a riot. Yeah, they're tense. They're very tense. You're on pins and needles the whole time. But, boy, you talk about an adrenalin rush. It's a lot of fun."
NEWT MOORE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON KANSAS SPEEDWAY "Talking to James [Ince] and Johnny [Benson], it seems to be pretty close to Chicago. When they went to the test, they kind of mirrored everything off of that. We went to Kentucky testing, which is a similar type of track, just so we didn't use a test up because we knew that we had Thursday to practice and we had them to bleed off of a little bit for information. They said the track is just like Chicago. It's a little tighter off the corner, so you need to turn a little bit better, so we worked on that at Kentucky with the car we're going to take. We took two cars to Kentucky and tested for a day. We got them shook down and got the car that we thought was the best and we're ready to go."
DO THE PONTIACS STILL NEED SOME RULES HELP FROM NASCAR? "I feel like if you take the speedways a little bit, as far as if you look at qualifying, the Pontiacs are not where they need to be. When the race starts, everybody is bunched up and you can work your way up through there. They are a real good race car for the race. Pontiac is a really good race car at all the other racetracks. I feel like we can use a little more nose in the front. We can always use something. If somebody asked me, 'Would you want some more nose in the car,' I'd say, 'Yes, of course.' It would help the downforce on the front of the car and make the cars better. But I think the teams have had to adjust to what they've had for the last two years, so it's been a benefit that we haven't had a change. But, it would help us if we did."
"The speedway qualifying - the spoiler in the rear would help us a little bit off each side. We tested that. I think that would help, but we don't know what they're going to do about that, yet. I feel like they're not going to do anything, but that remains to be seen. The car, just on the speedways, doesn't qualify as well. But, it really races good and you really hate to change anything when it races really good. You saw at the end of the Pepsi 400 the Pontiacs were all up front there. It's just how you want to look at it. We could use the help, but we're making due with what we've got."