'Try not to miss any shifts and stay on the black stuff' Ken Schrader and the ...
'Try not to miss any shifts and stay on the black stuff'
Ken Schrader and the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge head to the 2.2-mile Infineon Raceway, located in Sonoma, Calif., for Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350; the 16th race of the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season.
Driver of the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge, Schrader is a native of Fenton, Mo. The busiest driver in major league motorsports, Schrader 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 Sonoma:
"You get a lot of different reactions throughout the garage when the term 'road-course racing' is brought up. Personally, I don't mind it. Someone asked me, 'Do you consider yourself a good road racer?' I don't know if I consider myself a 'good' road racer, but if you can go out there and get a good lap qualifying, stay on the course, and not tear your transmission up; with a little bit of pit strategy you can come out of there with a pretty good day.
"I can still remember my first visit to a road course. It was Riverside, California, in 1985 and I didn't have a clue what to expect. I told Mr. (Junie) Donlavey, 'I tell you what, I'll try not to miss any shifts and stay on the black stuff all day.' That turned out to be a pretty good strategy; we wound up 10th. It was obviously a big change, but definitely something that I enjoyed. It was just a lot of fun, and always has been.
"The greatest challenge at Sonoma is that there's really no place to pass. There used to be a three passing zones but they were lost to renovations to the speedway. Now, there is really only one good place to pass. That's the final turn, the 180 degree deal right before the start/finish line. You can 'under brake' the guy in front of you if you're close enough going down into that turn. You can get underneath him and if you're able to do that, you'll beat him off of that corner. You will see races won and lost in the last few laps there because someone was unable to protect their inside going into that final turn
"Not only is turning right something we don't normally do, the elevation changes are something new and really help make racing there fun. Going up to the top of the hill in turn one is kind of neat, definitely unique to the Cup circuit. It's the first time all year we aren't running on a consistently flat terrain. That's a lot of fun.
"Because there aren't many opportunities to pass, any track position you can gain without having to pass someone on the track is good, whether it is gained in qualifying or in the pits. Track position there is magnified, and people are willing to do more, strategy wise on pit road, to gain track position."
"Racing in Sonoma is always a big deal because it's a big market for all of the sponsors. It's real easy to get a lot of these company executives to go to Sonoma because it's just absolutely beautiful country. I mean, yeah, Marshall, Minnesota (Schwan's Home Service's headquarters) is a good city and all, but those guys like to get out to wine country and soak up the sunshine too. The first year we went out there I was just amazed. You know, we left San Francisco, drove across that bridge, drove a little further out of town and said, 'Wow, all of sudden I'm in the country', but I was just right on the outskirts of San Francisco.
"It starts with qualifying this weekend. We need to go out there on Friday and put up a good lap. As hard as it is to pass there, the closer to the front you can start that's less people you have to pass, and more that have to find a way around you. If we can do that, take care of our car, stay on the pavement, and maybe play a little pit strategy, then maybe we can look around at the end of the afternoon and say, 'Wow, all of sudden we're in the top 10.'"