Chicagoland: Ken Schrader preview

Schrader to make 650th Nextel Cup Series start at Chicagoland Ken Schrader and the ...

Schrader to make 650th Nextel Cup Series start at Chicagoland

Ken Schrader and the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge head to the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, located in Joliet, Ill., for Sunday's Tropicana 400; the 18th race and halfway point of the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season.

Sunday's race marks the 650th start for Schrader in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series; the veteran is in his 22nd year of Nextel Cup competition. Driver of the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge, he 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. 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 thoughts of Schwan's Home Service Dodge driver Ken Schrader heading into Chicago:

"Six-hundred and fifty is just a number - just like turning 50 years old was just a number. It's nice to be able to do something that you love doing for this long. To make start number 650, in Nextel Cup, means we've been able to race at this level for a long time, and I guess, that's something to be proud of. Being number 650 makes me think back to when Mr. Langley (Elmo) gave me my first shot back in '84. He told me if I didn't tear his car up, I could run a few more races that season. Fortunately, I didn't tear it up and he let me run a few more races."

"Chicago is a great market to be racing. We've been going there a few years now, and it definitely makes a difference for our sponsor, Schwan's Home Service, if we can race in a big market like that. All the races we run are big races but some of the markets we go to aren't as big as the others. We don't get as much coverage right there in the town or the city because the market isn't as big. At Chicagoland, we're right on the outskirts of Chicago, with the track being in Joliet, it's a beautiful facility, brand new. We look forward to going up there each year."

"The track started out being one groove, like most new tracks do, but it's widened out quite a bit. Even though there are a lot of mile and a half tri-ovals, Chicago has a little unique personality of its own. It just seems a little smaller. Some of that might be because the back straightaway isn't . . . isn't straight, I mean. There's really not a straightaway at all at Chicagoland. It feels like you're always turning left, but all in all it's a fun track to drive."

"Part of the reason we've improved this season is because our superspeedway program has been a lot better. We built a bunch of new cars at the start of the year; definitely getting some more wind tunnel time was a help; David Hyder has helped us a bunch, just with the handling of the cars; Arrington Manufacturing engines out of Martinsville, Va., they keep working every week to give us more power. We're starting to come in and out of the pits a little quicker. It's just everything's working better because everyone's working harder to get that Schwan's Home Service car to go fast."

"We feel pretty good about the car we're bringing to Chicago this week. We got a brand new sponsor on the back of the car in All Chicagoland Moving and Storage, and we're hoping to give them a good run this weekend. On top of that, we're going to have a lot of execs from Schwan's, including Alfred Schwan himself coming down from Marshall (Minn.) to watch the race. The entire Schwan's Home Service Dodge team is really looking forward to the weekend."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader