Charlotte: Ken Schrader preview

Goal: 'All 600 Miles' Ken Schrader and the ...

Goal: 'All 600 Miles'

Ken Schrader and the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge return to the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway, located in Concord, NC, for Sunday evening's Coca-Cola 600; the 12th and longest race on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit.

Fans will have the opportunity to wish Schrader a happy 50th birthday this week. From Wednesday, May 25 until Sunday, May 29, fans can stop by the Schwan's Home Service display booth at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and sign a 4' x 10' birthday card to be presented to Schrader following the race weekend. Schrader's birthday is Sunday, May 29 -- the day of the race.

Driver of the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge, Schrader is a native of Fenton, Mo. The busiest driver in major league motorsports, Schrader has raced and continues to race on virtually every type of speedway in virtually every type of race car. 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 Charlotte:

"The Daytona 500 is our crown jewel; no doubt. But, the 600 isn't far behind. For one thing, it's the longest race. It's pretty amazing how many times the leader after 500 miles doesn't end up winning the thing. The attrition rate is always high, and the race starts in the day and ends at night. This will drive a crew chief and driver nuts.

"At some tracks you can run a race at twilight and the track isn't going to change that much - but at Charlotte? Charlotte changes with a passing cloud, much less going from broad daylight to pitch dark. To run the race at the time of day that we do, on the most weather sensitive track on the circuit, it can be down right frustrating.

"You have to keep that in mind when adjusting on the car throughout the race. If you go out and at the drop of the green flag you're running a little loose, you're going to want to tighten the thing up. But, if you do that, you can go ahead and figure, in the back of your head, that later on you might be putting it back the way it was. Every 600 it seems like somebody starts dominating about midway through the race, when they've finally got the car to the way they want it just about the same time others are struggling.

"This track has got a ton of character. Now, grinding the track the way they did definitely made it smoother, but there's no way they could get this thing totally smooth without repaving-- and that's not a bad thing. This place used to be so bumpy, and they've definitely helped it, but I don't mind too much. Each track you race (and Schrader has competed at over 300 different tracks) has its own uniqueness, and 'bumpy' was one of Charlotte's deals, and still is to a certain degree.

"We've figured if we can get all 400 laps, all 600 miles, we'll have a good finish on Sunday. Now, anytime you come to a track, you want to sit on the pole, lead every lap, and win the race. But, if we can stay out of trouble and get this Schwan's car to where it's handling where it needs to be, we should be in contention at the end of the race. The attrition rate is always so high at Charlotte, if you can get all 600 miles, you'll have a good finish.

"Charlotte is obviously a home track to a lot of teams and we're no different. We're located about 15 minutes from the start/finish line, and it's always good, especially for the crew guys, to spend a couple weeks off the road. This Schwan's Home Service team has really improved our superspeedway program from one year ago. We were fast at California and at one of Charlotte's sister tracks, Texas, and were pretty fast at times this past weekend. Hopefully that will translate into success this weekend and we'll be able to get all 600 miles on Sunday."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader