Ken Schrader and the ...
Ken Schrader and the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge return to the World's Fastest Half Mile, the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, for Saturday night's Sharpie 500, the 24th race of the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season.
The busiest driver in major league motorsports, Schrader, a native of Fenton, Mo., has raced and continues to race on virtually every type of speedway in virtually every type of race car. In 2005, Schrader plans to once again race over 100 races and throughout his career has raced at over 310 different racetracks around the nation. Schrader continues a winning career with BAM Racing, which fields the Schwan's Home Service team.
The team is owned by Beth Ann and Tony Morgenthau, investors from Coral Gables, Fla. Ms. Morgenthau, whose initials make up the name of the team -- BAM Racing -- is the only female car owner in motorsports to become involved without prior family connections. General manager Eddie Jones is a veteran of the NASCAR Nextel Cup wars, enjoying a championship career as a crew chief, mechanic and team leader. Crew chief David Hyder has over 20 years of racing experience both driving and as a chief mechanic.
The Schwan Food Company is a privately held manufacturer and marketer of fine frozen foods through its nationwide Schwan's Home Service home-delivery service, its Schwan's Consumer Brands North America retail grocery business, and its Schwan's Food Service Group foodservice unit. Headquartered in Marshall, Minn., Schwan's production and distribution activities in the United States and Europe employ 24,000 people. Among its well-known brands are Schwan's®, Tony's®, Red Baron®, Freschetta®, Pagoda®, Mrs. Smith's®, and Edwards®.
The thoughts of Schwan's Home Service Dodge driver Ken Schrader heading into Bristol:
"There are certain places where qualifying will take your breath away. Some of the high-banked ovals like Texas or Atlanta are sort of hairy; Dover's pretty wild too, and then there's Bristol. At some places you might think you turned a quick lap but you aren't quite sure. That's not the case at Bristol. If you've scared yourself a little, chances are you were pretty fast. It just seems like the rear of the car is always ready to skate out from underneath you during qualifying. Now, on the other hand, if it doesn't have that feeling you can bank you'll be starting near the rear of the field.
"Racing at Bristol is quite a bit different than qualifying. Rarely can you go all out or wide open, because there's someone right in front of you, and I mean inches in front of you. Forget about passing them on the outside, it's just not going to happen. For the most part you can forget about passing them on the inside unless you're willing to give them a little help. Plus, you don't want to do anything that's going to get you off of the bottom groove or chances are you'll lose five, six, seven positions in the process.
"Someone asked me the other day, 'what's more frustrating, racing at Talladega or racing at Bristol?' My first though was, 'traffic's a lot worse leaving Bristol than Talladega.' But, Bristol is definitely more frustrating. At Talladega, there's a lot that's out of your control, and you just have to accept it. Bristol's so frustrating because you know you're faster than the car in front of you, but he knows that too. He also knows that as long as he keeps it glued to the bottom, there's only one thing I can do to get around him, and that's bump him.
"Another problem at Bristol is you're always in danger of going a lap down. Seriously, you could be running in the top ten, slip up and take half a straight-a-way to straighten her out. Now, suddenly you've lost about 12 or 15 positions and the leader is only two seconds back. And because of the difficulty to pass, it's so hard to get your track position back.
"For the most part Bristol's been all or nothing for us recently. We've been good there almost every trip, but it just depends on if we can stay out of trouble or not. When we steer clear of trouble, we usually end up with a great finish. If not, then you'll see about 10 or 15 guys wearing Schwan's uniforms hunched over the car with frowns on their faces, wondering what part to put back next in order to get us back out there. That's no fun. We were unable to steer clear of trouble in the spring when we got run over from behind. There were a lot of unhappy crews after that one.
"We know what we have to do to have a good finish. Everyone gets excited for the night race at Bristol and rightfully so, it's quite an event. Hopefully, we'll be able to do everything we need to do; qualifying the Schwan's Home Service Dodge up somewhere in the top 15, have good pit stops, don't run into anybody and don't get run over. If we can do that we'll have one heck of a finish; that I'll promise you."