Fusion will make its NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut tomorrow night in the Budweiser Shootout with seven Ford drivers taking the green flag. Fusion will be trying to duplicate the feat of its predecessor Taurus, which won its debut when ...
Fusion will make its NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut tomorrow night in the Budweiser Shootout with seven Ford drivers taking the green flag. Fusion will be trying to duplicate the feat of its predecessor Taurus, which won its debut when Rusty Wallace captured the 1998 Budweiser Shootout.
*** Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 21 Little Debbie's Ford Fusion, won the pole for tomorrow night's race by virtue of a blind draw. Schrader, who will be making his 16th start in the season-opening event, spoke about making his debut for the Wood Brothers and getting a chance to be the first winner in Ford's newest vehicle.
KEN SCHRADER -- No. 21 Little Debbie's Ford Fusion
GETTING THE POLE IS A NICE WAY TO START OUT WITH A NEW TEAM. "Yeah, it would be neat if you were starting on the pole because of qualifying, but if you're gonna draw like they do for that race, you've got to start somewhere so I just as soon start at the front. We had a good test down here and I was happy with it, especially in the draft. Our qualifying runs weren't bad but they weren't stellar, but in the draft it was pretty good. The Fusion looks like it's gonna be a really good little race car, it just takes a little bit of time on the speedways to get it worked out. But I'm very excited going into the race and can't wait."
HOW MUCH OF A BENEFIT IS IT TO BE IN A RACE LIKE THIS THAT DOESN'T PAY POINTS? "The 150s are our best test session for the 500 and this is another whole race before that, and it's a short little race that pays a lot of money. It's a neat race to win and you can use it as a good test session. You don't have to worry about points, so it's just like the all-star race. It's just very relaxed."
IT WOULD BE NICE TO BE THE FIRST DRIVER TO WIN IN A FUSION. "It would be wonderful and that's definitely what we're gonna try to do. I think we've got seven shots at it, which is about a third of the field, so we're gonna try real hard."
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
IS THE SHOOTOUT A GOOD WAY TO JUMP START THE SEASON? "It's fun to be part of it because not everybody is in it. It's like a little less than half the field or half the field. It's the first race of the season and you're here anyway. You're either sitting there watching it up in a suite or watching on TV or you're in it. Obviously, if there's a racing going on you want to be in it, so it's cool to be a part of it. I'm looking forward to it. I was only in it one other time, so I'm looking forward to being part of it this year. Hopefully, we can win it because if you win it, you get invited back. Usually our qualifying is not that good. We got two poles last year and that's not typical for us, so our best chance for being in it every year is to win it, so hopefully we can do that."
IS IT AN ADDED BENEFIT TO BE IN THE RACE WITH THE NEW FUSION THIS YEAR? "It doesn't hurt. It never hurts to get track time at the same track in basically the same car that you're gonna run all week, so it never hurts. I don't know how much you learn. You get a lot of practice time here. You get three days of testing and with all the rules there's not a ton of things you're gonna be able to try anyway, so you just go there and have a good time with it. But it is good. The crew gets to make a couple of pit stops and work on that. You get to work together for a race, so that's fun."
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE YEAR? "You never know what to expect. I guess our goal is to try to win the championship again. I think that's our goal every year, but I hope we can win some races and be competitive. It's hard to win races. I think we've only won three or four races in the last three years, so that's definitely one of my goals is to win more races. We led a lot of laps last year and had a lot of opportunities to win races and could only capitalize on one of them, so that's definitely one of my goals."