Phoenix -- The Western Home of Ken Schrader CORNELIUS, N.C. (Nov. 5, 2008) -- If it has four wheels and a seat, odds are Ken Schrader has driven it at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) in Avondale, Ariz. Schrader has plenty of laps around...
Phoenix -- The Western Home of Ken Schrader
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Nov. 5, 2008) -- If it has four wheels and a seat, odds are Ken Schrader has driven it at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) in Avondale, Ariz.
Schrader has plenty of laps around the 1-mile oval and will add to that seemingly infinite total this weekend when he pilots the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing in Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at PIR.
But don't be fooled into thinking that all of Schrader's laps have come in NASCAR competition. It's not just his 22 Sprint Cup Series starts (he finished second in the 1990 event and has two poles), his three Nationwide Series races (he won the pole for the 1999 race) or his seven Craftsman Truck Series races (he has three top-10 finishes).
Schrader has found Victory Lane more than 15 times in a variety of series at PIR, including but not limited to, the NASCAR West Series, NASCAR Southwest Series, United States Auto Club (USAC) Midget Series and USAC Silver Crown Series.
While racing at Phoenix this weekend will be exciting for Schrader, he'll also be an interested spectator. After traveling on his motorcycle from Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth to PIR early in the week, Schrader will watch Thursday night's USAC Midget and Silver Crown action at the 1-mile oval.
Schrader's name is etched in the USAC history books as he was the 1982 USAC Silver Crown champion, as well as the 1983 USAC Sprint Car champion.
It's homecoming week for Schrader at one of his favorite stops on the NASCAR championship trail -- and hopefully for him and his friends and fans in the Phoenix area, a good finish awaits.
KEN SCHRADER, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
What is it about Phoenix that is fun for you?
"We've won a lot of races out there and driven just about everything out there. I've got a lot of friends out there and it's just been like a second home to me. We did all the Copper World Classic and Winter Heat stuff out there and it's just a good race track. Hopefully, we can have a good run out there this week in the DLP Toyota."
Why is Phoenix special to you?
"I think that's because it's the first big race track I ever went to -- a long time ago. I went out there and it was the fastest track I had ever been to and the farthest we had ever towed to go to a race, and I just liked it."
What challenge does Phoenix provide to drivers?
"It's a unique track because turns one and two are a lot tighter than turns three and four. There's a dogleg in the backstretch, which makes it different than most tracks which have the slight turn in the frontstretch rather than the backstretch. It's just different from anywhere we go all year and that's why I like it."
Your method of transportation to Phoenix is different from most. Could you talk about that?
"We ride motorcycles from Texas to Phoenix. We take all two-lane roads and just enjoy the ride. It's a good experience."
STEVE BOYER, crew chief of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
What kind of challenges does Phoenix provide you as a crew chief?
"In a lot of ways, it's not much different from a lot of places we go to. It's just that Phoenix has the kink in the backstretch instead of the frontstretch. The unique part about Phoenix is that turns one and two are so tight and turns three and four are wide open. You have to make a compromise at one end or the other and decide where your car is going to be good. Obviously, with the backstretch being a little bit longer, it's a little bit more important for you to get off of turn two rather than turn four. It's had two lanes in both corners the last couple of times we've gone there, which is helpful because you can maybe get a car that works well at both ends without having to make too much of a compromise, since you've got more room to work with. There is a lot less grip when you run in the heat of the day, like we will this week, compared to the night race in April. That creates a challenge within itself."
Does it help going into Phoenix with a driver like Ken Schrader, who has so much experience there?
"Absolutely. It makes us feel pretty confident going out there with him, knowing he's good out there. It's just a matter of us getting the car to work well with him."