Disappointing Day In Dega For Schrader

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Talladega Superspeedway is inevitably the home of the ‘big wreck,’ notorious for damaging at least 50 percent of the cars in the field. The ‘big wreck’ did happen at Talladega – twice to be exact. The first of the two accidents occurred on Saturday morning during final practice for the EA Sports 500. Ken Schrader and the “M&M’s”® Pontiac wasn’t lucky enough to escape the Saturday melee. Even though Ken was OK and able to drive the car to the garage area, damage to the aerodynamic package forced the team to a backup car.

The car that raced on Sunday had not seen competition since the 2000 Bud Shootout at Daytona. To get the car ready, the team changed motors and tweaked the setup to match the damaged race car. With less than 15 minutes left in the practice session the team wasn’t able to log any laps with the car.

Going to a backup car means dropping to the back of the field in the Winston Cup Series, but Schrader was not alone. Four other cars were forced into backup cars as well. The “M&M’s”® Racing Team spent the first few laps feeling out the car, checking for mechanical problems and making sure the tires were not rubbing against the sheet metal.

The “M&M’s”® Pontiac checked out OK, but due to the subtle differences in the makeup of the back-up and primary cars, the handling wasn’t what they hoped for when they took the green flag. The Newt Moore-led crew elected to make some changes to the car, which Schrader described as ‘twitchy’ throughout the course of the afternoon.

The first pit stop of the day came under green on lap 45. Always needing a drafting partner to pit with, Schrader pitted alongside Terry Labonte and Jerry Nadeau. Following the stop Schrader elected to run towards the back of the pack in order to work out the handling of the race car…and simply be patient.

Unfortunately, the car seemed to handle worse while in traffic. The loose condition forced Schrader to the back of the pack. Running at the rear of the field with a car not to his liking, Schrader and the “M&M’s”® Pontiac eventually lost the lead draft of cars. It was only a matter of time until the “M&M’s”® Pontiac was forced one lap down to the leaders.

Schrader held on to the lead draft for the remainder of the day, but a horrific crash on the backstretch of the final lap – the second of the weekend -- relegated him to the 31st position.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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