Fontana II: Ken Schrader preview

KEN SCHRADER "Fontana/DuQuoin Double" CORNELIUS, N.C. (Aug. 27, 2008) -- NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader has always been a guy who will race anything, anytime. Thus, the title of his 2006 biography, which is simply, "Gotta Race!" Labor Day...

KEN SCHRADER
"Fontana/DuQuoin Double"

CORNELIUS, N.C. (Aug. 27, 2008) -- NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader has always been a guy who will race anything, anytime.

Thus, the title of his 2006 biography, which is simply, "Gotta Race!"

Labor Day weekend will be no different for Schrader.

Schrader, who started seventh and finished 21st driving the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing in last weekend's Sharpie 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, will return to the DLP machine in Sunday night's Pepsi 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Immediately after the race he will board a plane and fly overnight to DuQuoin, Ill., so he can compete in Monday's prestigious Southern Illinois 100 ARCA RE/MAX Series event at the 1-mile dirt oval at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.

It's not the first time Schrader has done the "Fontana/DuQuoin Double," and his pilgrimage harkens back to a time when drivers like A.J. Foyt, Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti would race anywhere, anytime.

While most Americans will be taking time off this Labor Day weekend, Schrader won't be firing up the grill and relaxing. Instead, he'll be firing up his engine and going racing.

KEN SCHRADER, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:

You started seventh and finished 21st last weekend at Bristol in your first race with Hall of Fame Racing. What are your thoughts heading into the Pepsi 500 at Fontana?

"Last week, you climb into something -- you don't really know what to expect. You know that the team is a good solid, young team, with good equipment. Last week worked out OK, we just knew there was potential to be better. We got done what we needed to get done. We're excited to go to Fontana. I like Fontana. We've won some (NASCAR) West races out there. It's just a fun track, nice and wide, like Michigan. You can run all over the thing. I'm looking forward to it."

What make California a track that drivers like?

"It makes it a track where you can move around. If you're car is doing one thing, you aren't stuck to that one spot on the race track, you can move around and work on making your car react different, which is really nice. Some places have one groove and you run that groove and that's it. Even Bristol now, Bristol used to be our worst case of one groove and now it's a multi-groove race track and your can really affect how your car's working."

Can you describe the logistics of you Fontana/DuQuoin Double?

"I've been pretty fortunate that I've been able to do it the last couple of years. I didn't do both of them last year because I didn't run Fontana. Tony Stewart has been awful good to me. After the race, I'll get on a helicopter with Tony and fly to the airport. We'll get on his plane and he'll drop me off at the Carbondale, Ill., airport, I'll hop in the rental car, grab a shower at the hotel and then meet the boys in the lobby because I think practice is at 9 a.m. It's been fun every year because after we get out the cars, Tony and I usually talk all the way to Illinois, which isn't that long of a flight, it's three-and-a-half hours or something, but when you're going through those time zones -- you get on the plane at 11 p.m. in Fontana and you're all pumped up and then it's 5 a.m., in Illinois when you land, it's kind of like 'Oh shoot, this could be a long day.' We've won DuQuoin the last two years, so we're looking forward to going back there."

What does it say about Tony Stewart and other drivers in the series that are willing to help out to get you to a race?

"There are lot of guys in the Cup Series that would help. If I couldn't work that out with Tony, someone would help out. Tony going back to Indiana, as opposed to Charlotte, makes that a lot easier. There's a lot of guys in the Cup Series that even if they had to fly a little north and go out of their way to Illinois, I think they'd help because they're basically all good guys. In our sport because you take some much equipment and such a large team to showcase your talent -- you can't just do it by yourself -- we tend to have a lot of participants that really appreciate things and have really worked their way up through and are more than glad to pay back."

What is the adjustment going to be like going from a Sprint Cup car at Fontana to a stock car on dirt at DuQuoin?

"There's no adjustment on this stuff. You've got this circle, you sit in a car, you've only got a couple of pedals that do anything and you go around the circle as fast as you can. When I was coming up through the ranks there was no adjustment. There were nights we ran the midget, the winged sprint car and the late model all in the same night. If you've dealt with enough drivers, it's not like we're rocket scientists, which is why there's only two pedals. One go, one stop. Pretty simple."

Can you describe your thoughts as you found out that you're going to not only run DuQuoin, but Fontana as well?

"I knew I was going to run DuQuoin in January. I knew that. I wasn't quite sure about Fontana. I knew I was going to race this weekend. I knew I was going to race Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and DuQuoin on Monday. Now, instead of racing Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I'm going to fly Thursday, qualify Friday, practice Saturday and race Sunday. I knew I was going to be in a car all weekend. Now, being as that you do this for a living, the best car to be in is a (Sprint) Cup car. Plus what's really fun and especially going in as a pitch-hitter, like we did last week, it's fun to go in there and get something done. Last week was 21st, it's not like it was eighth, but it was in the top-half and we knew we should have been better because the car was faster than that. So, it felt good. I sense that the boys were pumped up. We could have done better, but you feel like you've accomplished something when the odds are stacked against you a little bit."

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ken Schrader , Mario Andretti , Bobby Unser , A.J. Foyt
Teams Hall of Fame Racing