Tuesday, April 15, 2003. Dodge This Teleconference Ken Schrader, Scott Eggleston KEN SCHRADER (No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge Intrepid) "What probably was most satisfying about it (10th-place finish at Martinsville) was it's not like we ran 18th...
Tuesday, April 15, 2003.
Dodge This Teleconference
Ken Schrader, Scott Eggleston
KEN SCHRADER (No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge Intrepid)
"What probably was most satisfying about it (10th-place finish at Martinsville) was it's not like we ran 18th all day and four guys blew up and four got in an accident. We started fourth and ran between ninth all day. That made us feel good. Without the last yellow, we thought we were looking at a top five. It did feel good. It was the first top 10 for the BAM team. Their previous best had been a 17th at Darlington, which still wasn't very good. Tenth isn't what we're shooting for. We want to do a lot better than that, but it was a real good start.
"First off we had a good starting spot and the car was real good in Happy Hour. We knew we had a good shot at coming away with something decent. What we probably feel best about, even though it doesn't show it at all, but at Rockingham and Darlington the car ran real good. We got caught a lap in the pits at both places. At Bristol, we were one of the seven cars on the lead lap when we cut the right front tire. The car has had plenty of speed. It's been fast enough to have top 10s at half the races this year, but we hadn't done it yet, so this is the first one we did it all day like we were supposed to. We weren't really getting frustrated, but everybody wants to finally make something happen. We finally made something happen at least.
"I think going into a weekend off, the boys are off all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They can relax a little bit and know they're making some gains. They've got a real nice shop over there. We've got cars lined up, and we were like everybody else at the start of the year. We were very short on cars because none of last year's cars were really legal. They worked their butts off like all the teams have, and we've got cars lined up and you can really see they're making gains. They know it, and they're the ones who really need to know it."
IF YOU WERE REINCARNATED, WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS?
"I'd probably like to come back and do the same deal just one more time and try to do it better. My little boy, I keep telling him that golf is the way to go. That looks like a whole lot better deal to me. I'd probably want to take another stab at what we're doing currently."
HOW MUCH SUPPORT DOES BAM GET FROM DODGE?
"I couldn't really answer that because I'm not really in on that. I just drive the thing. I do know that we have an agreement with Dodge. I think it's the first year they've had one. We have been to the wind tunnel. We've been in on some conference calls, and there's some technical help there. I don't know to what extent, but we're definitely getting some help from Dodge. Single car team or not, everyone had to go through the body change. The bodies are simpler now. They're very complicated with all the templates and everything, but it's a no-brainer where it goes. It's got to go right there where NASCAR says it has to go, and it has to fit these templates. Actually that's a lot less wind tunnel time and stuff that you actually need because you're so restricted with what you can do. You've only got so much to work with."
WHAT'S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CREW CHIEF SCOTT EGGLESTON?
"I had never worked with Scott. I had never really talked with Scott a lot. I didn't really know Scott. He came highly recommended. There's a couple of people I spoke to. Michael Waltrip was very high on Scott, said we'd get along just fine. I've got a lot of confidence in what Mikey says. Someone else I look up to is Andy Petree, and Scott helped him when he had to field two cars at Talladega last year. Scott was up there for a couple of weeks just helping out and he was very high on Scott. I met Scott and we got along and enjoyed talking to one another. I can explain to him what the car feels like to me. I tell him what I would do to it if I were there by myself, and that's how I always describe it. If I was here by myself, here's what I'd do. I don't claim to be a chassis man, but I can bluff my way through some of it. He makes it feel like I want.
"I don't claim to be. Anybody in this business to a point is somewhat of a chassis man because you can't not be and do this job, but I need someone I can talk to. What Scott is real good about is he doesn't care what we do to the car as long as it makes it feel better. If I lead him off in a direction that he hasn't been before with springs or shocks and we go faster, he doesn't care. He doesn't care whose idea it is. He doesn't care anything about that. He just cares about the stopwatch."
DO YOU FEEL EXPERIENCE GIVES YOU AN ADVANTAGE?
"When these guys get to Winston Cup, they've all got experience. When the rookies get here now, they've run the truck series or they've run ARCA or Busch. They've all got the speedway experience when they get here. There's a couple of places you go, Martinsville being one of them, maybe Bristol a little bit, it takes a little bit to figure them out, but these guys figure them out the first day of practice."
DESCRIBE YOUR ENERGY FOR RACING
"I enjoy going to the race track as much as I ever have. I'm going to run somewhere between 90-100 races this year. A whole lot of the races we go to isn't because they're a good deal or anything. It's because I've got an off night and there's a race and I want to go race in it. I'd say I've probably got more desire to race now than I ever have."
HAS CARBON MONOXIDE ALWAYS BEEN A PROBLEM IN THIS SPORT?
"I'm sure it's always been a problem because it's always been there. It affects different people different ways. I've been fortunate because I haven't realized I've felt the effects of it. I went and got tested after Bristol. We ran 400 of the 500 laps. On my way out the tunnel, the infield care center being right there. Robin the NASCAR nurse checked it. It was ton higher than I thought it was going to be, but it really wasn't to the level where it starts to affect you. I think the fact it affects different people different means it's always been there. I think NASCAR has done a good job of jumping on everything from going back to pit road speeds to the pace car picking up the pack before we can pit to safety devices inside the car. I think NASCAR is always looking at the safety issues and whatever they can do to make things better. Along with a lot of other things, it's just been brought to the limelight more realizing there's so much to look at. I've always thought if it was going to bother me at all it would be Bristol and Martinsville probably more than anything. Martinsville is kinda down in a hole and you don't get going fast enough to circulate much air inside the car. I've always thought those were the two it affected the most."
WHAT'S IT LIKE MOVING TO A ONE-CAR TEAM?
"You're over there in our BAM shop with just the one team. Robbie Reiser and Matt Kenseth sit down at their shop and look over their resources and try to do the very best they can. We sit down at our shop, lay out a plan and look at our resources and try to do the very best we can. We're very blessed that Beth Ann and Tony Morgenthau have invested a lot into the BAM team already. We have a lot of resources there. Like I said before, I don't know the extent of our Dodge involvement, but we have benefited from help there. I don't think we're out sitting on a little island by ourselves and it's just a matter of time before we're in big trouble. It was pretty neat to see Ricky Craven win Darlington like he did, and that was a single-car team. We just take all the stuff we've got and do whatever we can."
WHY DO CREW CHIEFS LEAVE WHEN THEY'RE NOT SUCCESSFUL?
"I think with the money that's coming to the sport, some of these guys get opportunities they can't pass up. The pressure to perform... If there's a team that's not performing, they look at a crew chief and the driver says if I had that crew chief I think we could really work together. They go out and offer him the world. He comes over there and it either works or it doesn't. The sport has grown and there's more demands and pressure to perform and there's more money in it. I think that's what's caused it. You have to perform at some level in this sport to survive.
"I didn't get to Winston Cup until I was 29 or 30 years old. I grew up in the Midwest. I was racing for a living, but I was carrying a helmet bag around a hundred times a year most all over with dirt and sprint cars and stuff. Maybe I should have concentrated earlier on getting in Winston Cup, but I don't really have any regrets. I enjoyed all the other racing I did and I still do. Obviously Winston Cup is my main focus, but I wouldn't want to give up the other stuff. I wouldn't do it a whole lot different."
HOW LONG DO YOU PLAN TO KEEP UP WITH YOUR PRESENT SCHEDULE?
"I'm at my shop every morning between 7 and 7:30. I'm there every night until 7 or 7:30. I try to go by the Winston Cup shop every day I'm home. That's all I want to do. I just dread the day I don't get to race. When I don't Winston Cup race, I'm still going to race. I'm going to race a bunch. Maybe run the truck for a couple of years and run the dirt car until I just can't drive it anymore. I'm not working. I'm playing fulltime. It wears you out, but that's what I'm doing. I'm playing fulltime. I'm living the dream."
SCOTT EGGLESTON (Crew chief No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge Intrepid)
"The performance is either there or it's not. It's not like they used to wait around to get it to turn around. Now they want it to turn around immediately. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Sometimes it's just better to go on and find a place where it does work. Right now, working with Kenny is a pleasure. He's one of the best drivers I've ever seen. We're just starting to learn each other. A couple of breaks one way of the other and we'd be sitting in the points a little better, but we're not giving up. We're going to keep working at it. I think we'll make big improvements before the end of the year. He's so easy to work with. I think his driving style is a little different than other drivers I've been with, but I'm getting kinda used to that. I'm learning what I need to do to help him, but communication has been really good."
WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT CAR CONSTRUCTION TO HELP WITH CARBON MONOXIDE?
"We try to seal up the inside of the car as best we can. They have canisters with filters that direct flow air into the driver's helmet. That's about it. We haven't seen the problem as much as we saw a few years ago. We try to run the exhaust out the right side to keep it as far away from the driver as possible. The canister with the filter is the biggest thing I've seen."
DOES THE DRIVER'S PERFORMANCE ALTER YOUR GAME PLAN?
"We're constantly changing, but the driver, I would say the performance is always there. We're just working to find out what takes him to the next level. We're constantly changing. We're changing people to try to make better pit stops every week. We work on the cars and try to improve them every week. It's a constant change. When we find a pattern of good things, we try to continue that same pattern."
ARE PIT CALLS SPONTANEOUS?
"It happens so fast, you just kinda make decisions on the fly. If something is working for you, you just keeping going in that same direction. We do sit down and make a game plan, but we usually throw that out before you even stop because things are changing constantly. You don't even think about it. You just do what's working."
HAVE YOU BEEN RACING WITH SCHRADER OUTSIDE OF WINSTON CUP?
"I have not. I would like to. Kenny likes to race. That's all there is to it. Everybody can see that. I think he just likes it so much it's his relaxation. He can go run a couple of dirt shows here and there. He just likes doing it. I'd like to go with him, but I just haven't had time, maybe this summer."
HOW HAS YOUR CAREER CHANGED SINCE WINNING DAYTONA 500 WITH MICHAEL WALTRIP?
"Here at BAM Racing, I feel like I have control over my fate, control over where I'm going, my future. Some other places I didn't feel that way. I feel like whatever happens here is a direct reflection of what I can accomplish."