Idrivers Eye View:/I Ken Schrader

PHOENIX -– A weekend off from Winston Cup doesn’t mean a week away from racing for me.

After Rockingham two weeks ago, I didn’t even spend two full days at home before I got on a plane and headed to California for the truck race. From California, I went to Las Vegas and from there to Phoenix.

There is never a break in racing, but at least I got to have a little fun while taking care of some business in Las Vegas. I spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday doing appearances for some people there before I headed out to Phoenix later on Wednesday.

The trip between Las Vegas and Phoenix was the most relaxing part of the trip because I wasn’t in an airplane or in a car. I rode my motorcycle down from Las Vegas on Wednesday evening, so for 300 miles there were no cell phones or meetings, just me and the desert.

As soon as I pulled into the track Wednesday night, it was right back to work. I’m running the Southwest Tour race this weekend, and the first practice scheduled for that series was for 7:30 this morning. I’m signing autographs later tonight, so it’s going to be a long Thursday.

There are a lot of very cool things to see in Phoenix, but I won’t get the chance since I’m running the Southwest Tour race on Friday. Craftsman Truck Series star Rick Carelli is running my Busch car on Saturday, and then we race the Cup cars on Sunday.

I don’t mind all the hustle and bustle around Phoenix because it’s just a great race track. Phoenix was the first big track that I ever raced on, and that was back in 1979. I was driving a Midget at the time and we hauled the car halfway across the country to race in the Copper World Classic. I thought that was the greatest thing in the whole world.

I’ve been to Phoenix just about every year since I first went there in 1979. I’ve run the Copper World Classic for about the past 15 years, so I was running there way before the Winston Cup cars went there for the first time.

Before I ever turned a lap in a stock car, I won at Phoenix four times in a Midget and three times in a Silver Crown car. I’ve also run there and been pretty successful in the Southwest Tour (in the same car I’m running this weekend) and the Busch Series. I’ve done pretty well in a Winston Cup car, too.

I don’t know that I’ve got the ideal line around Phoenix, but it seems to have worked pretty well for us in the past… and hopefully again this weekend.

You’ve got to use an extreme amount of brake getting into Turn 1, and you definitely want to be on the bottom because that’s the preferred line. In Turns 3 and 4, you’re a little more flexible about what groove you run, but you can’t go wrong running the bottom of the track on both ends.

If you’re looking for a favorite for the race, I think the M&M’s Team is a safe bet this weekend. Together, I think we can have a really strong run. Besides, I’ll already have driven one race that weekend, which is only a bonus in my eyes.

Be sure to come back next Thursday and I’ll fill you in – from my perspective, anyway – on the activities surrounding our next race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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