KEN SCHRADER Like the Hot Dogs, Martinsville Not Easy On the Mind or Body CORNELIUS, N.C. (Oct. 15, 2008) -- Anyone who has experienced a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway has no doubt enjoyed a hot dog or ...
Like the Hot Dogs, Martinsville Not Easy On the Mind or Body
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Oct. 15, 2008) -- Anyone who has experienced a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway has no doubt enjoyed a hot dog or two.
Wrapped in wax paper, the bright-red Jesse Jones 'dog (a steal at $2, by the way) comes in a soggy bun topped with chili, mustard, onions and 'slaw. While they're pretty darn good, they aren't exactly easy on the mind or body, if you've had a few throughout the day.
Interestingly, the same can be said for racing at the very track where the 'dogs are sold. Martinsville Speedway is the smallest track on the NASCAR championship trail at .526 of a mile. It's shaped like a paper clip with long straightaways, tight corners and a groove about as wide as a Martinsville hot dog.
Racing in such tight, close quarters usually means quite a bit of beating and banging. As a result, several drivers are likely to get mad and lose their temper -- thus, the effect on the mind and body.
Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing, will look to make his 47th Sprint Cup Series start at Martinsville in Sunday's TUMS QuikPak 500. The Fenton, Mo., native has run well there in the past and has qualified 10th or better in each of his last three races at the half-mile track in southern Virginia.
With that in mind, Schrader and the DLP team are hoping to not only enjoy a couple of hot dogs, but perhaps a solid finish on the side.
KEN SCHRADER, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
What are your overall thoughts heading into Martinsville?
"Martinsville is neat. It's fun to go to. It is very aggravating, too, sometimes. You can't just move up and pass someone like you can at some of the other tracks. Some of our best finishes have been at Richmond, Bristol and Martinsville the past couple of years. Any place that you can run good and are capable of running in the top-10, you've got a chance to make it real good day. It has been a real good place for us in the past, so we are definitely looking forward to going there."
What does it take to be successful at Martinsville?
"Track position is very important because it's so narrow and such a tough place to pass. That really starts on Friday during qualifying. You need to qualify well to start up front, but also to get a good pit stall because pit road and the pit stalls are so tight there. Other than that, it's just staying out of trouble and staying up front."
STEVE BOYER, crew chief of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
Overall thoughts heading into Martinsville?
"Track position is really, really important there. Qualifying day is always really important to us -- just trying to get in the field -- but it's even more important at Martinsville because of pit selection. Pit road is very tight, so getting a good pit stall is very important. It can make a huge difference in how the race plays out. In terms of setting up the car, it's challenging from a driver's standpoint because it's really easy to be too aggressive getting into the corner and hurting the rest of the corner. And it's really easy to not be aggressive enough and not carry enough speed through the corner. Qualifying is a big challenge for the drivers because there is a real fine line there between carrying too much speed into the corner and not carrying enough."
What kind of challenge does the transition from concrete in the turns to the asphalt on the straightaways play?
"It's not as big as it used to be since it was repaved a few years ago. You still tend to spin the rear tires when you make the transition. That's something that the drivers and the crew chiefs have to work on together to fix. A lot of it depends on driving style. You want to have the car turn through the corner well enough, but also have good forward bite coming off the corner so you don't spin the tires out. That's typically the trade-off we go through."