'Love racing at Richmond' Ken Schrader and the ...
'Love racing at Richmond'
Ken Schrader and the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge return to the .750-mile Richmond (Vir.) International Raceway, for Saturday night's Richmond 400, the 26th and final race before NASCAR's "Chase for the Nextel Cup."
The busiest driver in major league motorsports, Schrader, a native of Fenton, Mo., has raced and continues to race on virtually every type of speedway in virtually every type of race car. In 2005, Schrader plans to once again race over 100 races and throughout his career has raced at over 310 different racetracks around the nation. Schrader continues a winning career with BAM Racing, which fields the Schwan's Home Service team.
The team is owned by Beth Ann and Tony Morgenthau, investors from Coral Gables, Fla. Ms. Morgenthau, whose initials make up the name of the team -- BAM Racing -- is the only female car owner in motorsports to become involved without prior family connections. General manager Eddie Jones is a veteran of the NASCAR Nextel Cup wars, enjoying a championship career as a crew chief, mechanic and team leader. Crew chief David Hyder has over 20 years of racing experience both driving and as a chief mechanic.
The Schwan Food Company is a privately held manufacturer and marketer of fine frozen foods through its nationwide Schwan's Home Service home-delivery service, its Schwan's Consumer Brands North America retail grocery business, and its Schwan's Food Service Group foodservice unit. Headquartered in Marshall, Minn., Schwan's production and distribution activities in the United States and Europe employ 24,000 people. Among its well-known brands are Schwan's®, Tony's®, Red Baron®, Freschetta®, Pagoda®, Mrs. Smith's®, and Edwards®.
The thoughts of Schwan's Home Service Dodge driver Ken Schrader heading into Richmond:
"I love racing at Richmond. It's smooth, multi-groove, wide; there's plenty of room to race. Apparently I'm not the only one who likes racing there. You know a few years ago, well, now it's been about seven or 10 years ago, everyone was talking about building more mile and a half speedways, like that was the way to go - more like Charlotte and Atlanta. So, next thing we have Texas, Kansas, Chicago, and Homestead. All tracks similar in many aspects to Charlotte and Atlanta.
"I can understand why. Owners were thinking mile-and-half tracks made better business sense, and it's been hard to argue with the results. All of those new places I just mentioned not only have stock car races but the IRL runs there as well. They have more seats, more room to expand, and more luxury suites. All of those have obviously done pretty well.
"But now it seems like people are pointing at Richmond as the track 'we need to build more of.' As a result, the new tracks that some are proposing to be built in the Pacific Northwest and near New York City, are rumored to be short tracks similar to Richmond. It's (RIR) big enough to accommodate over 100,000 fans, Richmond now hosts an open wheel event, and generally, short tracks produce closer, more exciting racing.
"Speaking of closer, more exciting racing-- we're sure to see plenty of it Saturday night. There are a handful of teams that will be throwing everything at it but the kitchen sink. I know last year this race was pretty intense, but really, Nextel Cup is so competitive these days, it's that intense every week.
"Still, you're going to see some guys make moves out on the track that sometimes they may not make. They're going to take a few more chances than usual and rightfully so. For those few drivers, this race is the season. If you're the guy sitting in eleventh or twelfth in the standings, this is it. Your finish in this race will determine whether or not you'll have a chance to finish first or at best, eleventh.
"That's a ton of pressure on the driver, but not just the driver. You've got a guy on that pit box (crew chief) who is going to be sweating bullets for 400 laps. Should we take two tires or four, should we stay out, should we short pit, etc. These are decisions he faces every week, but the decisions he makes in this race will be magnified times 10.
"For us, we need to improve on what we did in the spring here for sure. We had a number of problems, but the good thing is, that was back in May. It was David's (Hyder, crew chief) first trip to Richmond with me as his driver and vice-versa. We'll be better, hopefully a whole lot better. We tested there a couple of weeks ago, and if the trend holds up, every time we've tested at a track we've been pretty good there. This Schwan's Home Service crew is feeling confident going into Richmond, we know we'll be vastly improved and hopefully come away with a great finish."