KEN SCHRADER New Configuration or Old; Plenty of Miles at Atlanta CORNELIUS, N.C. (Oct. 22, 2008) -- Anyone who has ever made the drive from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Homestead, Fla., knows that by car, the trip takes about three days and nine...
New Configuration or Old; Plenty of Miles at Atlanta
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Oct. 22, 2008) -- Anyone who has ever made the drive from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Homestead, Fla., knows that by car, the trip takes about three days and nine hours to complete.
So, beginning on Wednesday afternoon of the third weekend of each November, a person could watch the opening game of the famous Top of the World Classic preseason NCAA basketball tournament at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks (past winners include Alabama, Gonzaga, Villanova, Oklahoma and Austin Peay), then hop in the car and make the 4,943-mile trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway just in time for the opening laps of Sunday evening's season-ending Ford 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Sadly, the Fairbanks-Homestead double is no longer possible as tournament officials ended the Top of the World Classic this season after a 12-year run. People will now have to find another reason to load up the family truckster and make the scenic 4,943-mile drive.
What does this have to do with Ken Schrader and DLP HDTV team? Nothing at all, really, other than to set the stage for an interesting stat.
Schrader, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing, will attempt to make his 47th start at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) in Hampton, Ga., in this weekend's Pep Boys Auto 500. The configuration of Atlanta changed in 1997, but the distance has always been 1.5 miles in length and Schrader has completed 12,916 laps in Sprint Cup competition at AMS since his first start in 1984. That's 19,374 total miles.
Thus, the interesting stat. Having driven 19,374 miles at AMS over the last 24 years, Schrader could have completed just about four trips between Fairbanks and Homestead.
Out of those 19,734 miles, 500 of them were extra special to Schrader when he won the 1991 Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 driving the No. 25 Kodiak Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
So while several people will mourn the loss of the Top of the World Classic as November approaches, this weekend, Schrader will focus on inching closer to the 20,000-mile mark at AMS while also striving to give the DLP team a solid finish.
KEN SCHRADER, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
What are your overall thoughts heading into the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta?
"I think our 1.5-mile program is getting better. We had a really good car at Charlotte and were able to move up a lot of spots before getting caught up in a wreck. We'll need to qualify our way into the show on Friday night, but I think we've got a good piece this week."
How does Atlanta compare to the other 1.5-mile tracks on the Sprint Cup Series schedule?
"The racing surface is wider. I think the track is wider and the groove is wider. It gives you more options, so it's a little bit better than some other tracks."
Do you prefer the old configuration of Atlanta or the newer Charlotte-type layout?
"It doesn't really matter because we race the tracks that are on the schedule. I didn't like it when they changed it, but that is what the track is now and we'll run there along with everyone else."
What is your favorite race track?
"I don't have a favorite track. You have to go to all of them, so you might as well like them all. If you don't like them, you tend to not run as good at that track. I do like any place that is multi-grooved, where we can really race. Any place you can run two- or three-wide is fun to race on. But, I'm looking forward to going to all of them."
What kind of racing do you like best?
"I really like racing my dirt car, but I'm telling you, what is the most fun is running in the Sprint Cup Series. When you have a good day in that series, and knowing the level of competition you are facing, it is pretty rewarding. You are doing the same thing in all of them -- you've got a steering wheel and two pedals and you are going around in circles as fast as you can, but the Cup Series is the best."