Darlington: Schrader wake up call

Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 21 Little Debbie/Motorcraft Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session in the Jim Hunter Infield Media Center as part of the weekly Nextel Wake Up Call. Schrader is 31st in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point ...

Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 21 Little Debbie/Motorcraft Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session in the Jim Hunter Infield Media Center as part of the weekly Nextel Wake Up Call. Schrader is 31st in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings.

KEN SCHRADER -- No. 21 Little Debbie/Motorcraft Ford Fusion

WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND? "This is a car we haven't run yet this year, but this is a place where if you can get your car to where it feels good and you go all day and don't hit nothing too hard, you usually wind up pretty good. I really like the race track. I did from the very start. It's just a lot of fun. It's challenging because you are your own worst enemy here. Usually when you get tore up it's because you did it and not someone else."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR BOOK? "I had a couple people ask me about doing a book a couple of times and then a lady named Joyce Standridge called, who I grew up racing with her and her husband. She wanted to do one. She writes for Speedway Illustrated so we just did one. I didn't think anybody would buy the thing, but they've sold a couple of them so we'll just have to see what happens. I don't know. It's kind of neat. It's got a lot of photos. That's what I told them I wanted."

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR FIRST TIME HERE? "What used to be turn four and how tight it was, and how much tires gave up -- not because of tires but because of the surface being like sandpaper. And all of the tradition and everything, you heard about coming to Darlington. The first year we came is still when they did that rookie test and they had to approve you, even though you had run the other places, and you didn't get to qualify the first day. I just heard a lot about it. I just remember how narrow it was. Man, it seems like there's a lot of pavement here that you can't use, but just how narrow it was. I had never been on a track that had a groove that narrow."

DO YOU REMEMBER HOW FAST YOU WERE? "I don't have a clue. We couldn't qualify the first day so you weren't locked in the top 25."

WILL THE INTIMIDATION OF DARLINGTON COME INTO PLAY TOMORROW AND WILL IT BE AN ISSUE FOR THE ROOKIES? "The rookies that come in now aren't like when the rookies came in a long time ago. They've already either been here with the Busch car or the truck or something like that. They're coming in with experienced teams and, like I say, they've run here before so it's not near as big of a jump for them as it used to be in some of the other cases. The rookies now are ready when they get here."

DO CHAMPIONS HAVE COMMON TRAITS? "I think it's just good racers in general. In any kind of sport or anything they just have a desire to be the best and beat everybody. Obviously they're good and they're hooked up with good equipment and good people. We've all got the same equipment in there, it's just the people you get to work on it and how they work together to come up with the team and the team being the key factor. There are a lot of guys. You could never look at Mark Martin without a championship and say, 'what was he lacking?' Because he ain't lacking nothing and he's got more of everything that most of the other guys got, but it's just a matter of being in the right situation at the right time and everything falling into place."

DOES THIS TRACK REMIND YOU OF ANY OTHER AROUND THE COUNTRY? "Salem, Indiana does a lot, especially turns three and four at Salem are just like one and two here -- you run right around the top. Salem, Indiana is a lot like it. A lot of the dirt tracks, when it's late in the night and the cushion is right up on the fence and you're just running them straight six inches from the fence, a lot of those do as far as just the way you drive it. I'd say Salem, Indiana is the closest."

HAVE YOU GOTTEN USED TO RACING ON MOTHER'S DAY WEEKEND NOW? "I've never not raced on Mother's Day weekend and it's never caused any problem, so now it's a fact that the Mother's Day race weekend pays a little better than the $1000 to win dirt race we were going to. I think it pays $1200 to win on Sunday night in Omaha, Nebraska and that's where we'll be racing then, so we've just always raced on Mother's Day weekend."

ARE YOU LOOKING TO PURCHASE ANY OTHER TRACKS? "Dale Jr. and myself and a good friend, Bob Sargent, from Illinois has the one in Paducah and that goes along with the one we've got in St. Louis at I-55. We weren't looking for Paducah and it just kind of happened, so if something that makes sense would wander up, I guess we'd look at it but we're not on a mission to have a bunch of race tracks by no means."

HOW HEALTHY IS SHORT TRACK RACING IN THIS COUNTRY? "I think the industry is healthy, but a lot of the facilities aren't. When I say that, some are doing extremely good and some of them are struggling. There will be a bunch of them close this year, but it's just a business like any other business and with more of them out there you have to give better service at a better price. We really concentrate on no dust, multi-groove racing and being over at 10:30. Pevely is doing very good. Paducah was down in a hole as low as you could get and we have a many year climb to get out of there, but we've seen a real good start already to climbing out. We're real happy with what's happened there, but I don't think the industry -- I think it's just business and the business has become more competitive. People are picking and choosing where they're going and they're going to the better places. It might not necessarily be the fanciest place, but it's the place that's giving them the best entertainment for their dollar. I can't believe some of the places that put on a bad show and get you out at 1 o'clock."

ANY IDEA HOW MANY RACE TRACKS YOU'VE BEEN TO? "I don't know how many I've been to, but we've raced right at 330 of them. We've raced it quite a bit. You'll have that when you're old."

IF YOU HAD TO RACE AT ONE TRACK EVERY WEEKEND WHERE WOULD IT BE? "If I could race at one track every week I'd run the Daytona 500 every weekend. That's my favorite race and it pays the most and I love it, but at short tracks I'd have to go with Pevely. I'm partial to that. That's home. I was born and raced 10-12 miles from there and we've had it, I think this is our 11th season or something and it gets good car counts and good crowds and there are a lot of different winners. It's a fun track to run, so that will happen some day."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader , Jim Hunter , Mark Martin