Racing with Pain is Part of the Game for a Winston Cup Driver DETROIT, June 12, 2001 - The six drivers that make up the "WideTrack Attack" head into this weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup event at Pocono Raceway hungry for Pontiac's second victory of...
Racing with Pain is Part of the Game for a Winston Cup Driver
DETROIT, June 12, 2001 - The six drivers that make up the "WideTrack Attack" head into this weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup event at Pocono Raceway hungry for Pontiac's second victory of the year. Not only are they going to Pocono hungry, but they also head into the weekend healthy, which is something that can't be taken for granted in a sport where performing with pain is sometimes part of the job.
And feeling the pain of such a demanding sport like stock car racing almost certainly makes the rounds to all drivers at some point of a long season. As seen this year, no one is immune, whether running upfront or back in the standings.
Thoughts From Ken Schrader, No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix
* NOTE: Back in 1998, Ken Schrader drove to a fourth place finish in the Daytona 500 three days after breaking his sternum in a 125-mile qualifying race. He made all 33 starts that season, scoring three top fives and 11 top 10s on the way to a 12th place finish in the Winston Cup standings. * Schrader is coming off a 14th place finish at Michigan and is ranked 22nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings.
WHAT KIND OF MENTAL EFFORT DOES IT TAKE TO RACE WITH AN INJURY?
"You just do it. You just want to race. It ain't no big deal. You look at yourself and say, 'You're the one that wanted to be the race car driver.' You just do it."
IS IT EASY TO PUT THE PAIN OUT OF YOUR MIND?
"It hurts. But when you've got your hands full, you've got other things to think about."
WITH REGARD TO YOUR PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON, WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS
"We're not where we want to be; that's for sure. We have run a lot better [than last year], but we've had four or five races that have absolutely hurt us a ton. We had a good car at Dover - crashed on lap two. We had a top five car at Charlotte - had to come back to pit road for loose lug nuts. We were leading at Talladega and ran it out of fuel. We got caught up [in a wreck] at Martinsville. Those deals have really slowed us down. "The bottom line is we're not where we want to be, but we're happy with the performance."
WHICH HAS BEEN MORE FRUSTRATING: LAST YEAR WHEN YOU HAD FEWER ON-TRACK
PROBLEMS, BUT DIDN'T RUN AS WELL OR THIS YEAR?
"Last year was a lot more frustrating. I can live with this. I can see light at the end of the tunnel."
Thoughts From Johnny Benson, No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prix
* NOTE: Johnny Benson raced through the early part of the 1997 season after sustaining a broken toe in the closing laps of the Daytona 500. He never missed a start that season in 32 races and posted a career-best 11th place finish in the final point standings.
HOW DOES A DRIVER DEAL WITH INJURY?
"Once the race starts, the pain tends to go away. But I'm sure it's difficult for Dale Jarrett (injured ribs). I've done it before that way and it's very difficult for the first week or two, and then it kind of goes away. But he should be OK. If it was going to bother him anywhere, it would have bothered him at Dover more than it did at Michigan or at Pocono. That type of injury just makes it hard to breathe in the middle of the corners."
DOES THE PAIN REALLY GO AWAY OR DO YOU JUST GET USED TO IT?
"I think you just tolerate it. I don't believe it goes away, I just think you tolerate it as the race gets going. Once the car gets hot - you're running 140 degrees inside the car - it's a little like you're in a sauna. It's hard to physically deal with the heat in the car, but it actually helps the injured area feel a little better."
UNLIKE SOME OTHER SPORTS, YOU DON'T HAVE A BACK-UP DRIVER THAT CAN
SUBSTITUTE FOR YOU WHILE YOU'RE INJURED...HOW DOES THAT AFFECT THE HEALING
PROCESS WHEN YOU HAVE TO CONTINUE TO RACE?
"By continuing to race and continuing your work out program like you have to, it probably stretches the rehab on an injury like Jarrett's from three weeks to six weeks. You're constantly moving around and not giving yourself a full chance to rest and heal. But that's part of it."
Thoughts From Jimmy Makar, Crew Chief, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix
* NOTE: Bobby Labonte, who drives the No. 18 Pontiac Grand Prix, continued to compete despite suffering a broken shoulder blade in a Busch Series practice crash at Darlington Raceway in 1999. Labonte competed in all 34 events that season, including the Winston Cup race at Darlington just two days after sustaining his injury. He finished as the runner-up in the chase for the NASCAR Winston Cup championship.
IS THERE MUCH THAT A CREW CHIEF CAN DO TO MAKE A CAR MORE COMFORTABLE FOR A
DRIVER THAT IS RACING WITH AN INJURY?
"We can't do a lot to the race car to help the comfort. Maybe a little padding here or there, but really it is up to the driver and his doctor to get him comfortable. When Bobby [Labonte] broke his shoulder blade a couple years ago, we worked with him and the medical people a lot to do what we could. But it was more about Bobby using patches, braces, supports and various pieces that he put on his body to keep from putting pressure on areas that were hurting him. He went through a lot of physical therapy and things to help heal his injury and make his injury less painful. "I think 'DJ' (Dale Jarrett) is in the same boat. There are not a whole lot of things you can do for the injury he has got."
DOES IT SURPRISE YOU TO SEE HOW COMPETITIVE A DRIVER CAN BE WHILE DRIVING
WITH AN INJURY?
"I think it's true in all sports that once your adrenalin gets going and you get into the heat of the battle that your body takes over a little bit and forces you to forget some of the pain and issues that you're dealing with. They're still there, but your body blocks them from you. You've got other things you have to concentrate on. But it still doesn't allow you to perform to 100 percent of your capabilities, no matter how much you block it out. It will still affect you somewhat. "How much can each guy handle? That is probably up to the individual. Some people can bear great pain and block it out, and others have less of a threshold. It's totally up to the individual."