Kenneth Schrader (born May 29, 1955, in Fenton, Missouri) is a second-generation race car driver. He currently races on local dirt and asphalt tracks around the country while driving part-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Racing Series for his own Ken Schrader Racing. He also runs part-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kevin Harvick Incorporated. He occasionally appeared as a television analyst on This Week in NASCAR on the Speed Channel. Schrader is also a reporter for ESPN’s NASCAR Now. He is a first cousin once removed of fellow NASCAR driver Carl Edwards.
Despite having a full-time NASCAR ride for over twenty years, Schrader frequently races at local tracks between NASCAR races. He races in many racing divisions, and has been successful in any division he has stepped into. He owns a dirt late model and dirt open wheel modified car. Both of these cars, along with his Camping World Truck Series and ARCA series cars, are sponsored by Federated Auto Parts. He owns I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri, and is co-owner of Macon Speedway, near Macon, Illinois, along with Kenny Wallace, Tony Stewart, and local Promoter Bob Sargent.
During the 1990s and the early part of the 2000s, Schrader was running as many as 100 races among many types of racing, including NASCAR regional touring, ARCA, short track, and dirt track.
Schrader is married to Ann Schrader and they have two children, Dorothy and Sheldon. The family currently resides in Concord, North Carolina.
Ken Schrader began his racing career in Missouri. Schrader was the sportsmens champ in 1971 at Lake Hill Speedway in Valley Park Mo. He then moved up to sprint cars in 1971, racing in various locations across the Midwest. In 1980 he started racing in USAC’s stock car division, and was the series Rookie of the Year. He returned to USAC’s Stock Car division in 1981, finishing third in points. In the early 1980s, Schrader moved to the USAC series, competing in its various sprint car competitions. Schrader attempted to qualify for the 1983 Indianapolis 500 but wrecked his car in practice. In the USAC series, he won four USAC sprint car races, six Silver Crown races, 21 in USAC midgets, and 24 midget races in other divisions.
Schrader made his NASCAR debut in 1984 in the Cup series, leasing out the #64 Ford normally owned/driven by Elmo Langley. He ran his first race at Nashville, qualifying 27th and finishing nineteenth in a 30-car field. He ran four more races in the 64 that season, his best finish a seventeenth at North Wilkesboro Speedway. In 1985, he signed to drive the #90 Ultra Seal Ford for Junie Donlavey full-time. He had three tenth-place finishes and finished 16th in points, winning Rookie of the Year honors. In 1986, Red Baron Frozen Pizza became the team’s new primary sponsor, and Schrader had four top-tens, including a best finish of seventh twice, and finished sixteenth in the standings in points for the second consecutive season. In 1987, Schrader won his first career pole at the TranSouth 500, where he led 19 laps and finished fifth, his first top-five. He had nine other top-tens and finished tenth in the final standings. He also made his Busch Series debut at North Carolina Speedway, finishing fifth in his own #45 Red Baron Ford at North Carolina Speedway.
In 1988, Schrader moved over to the #25 Folgers Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. In his first race, he won the pole for the Daytona 500, beginning a three-year streak in which he won the pole for that race. After failing to qualify for the following race and purchasing a racecar from Buddy Arrington, Schrader won his first career race at the Talladega DieHard 500, and finished fifth in the final standings. He won his second career Cup race the following season at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and finished fifth in the standings again. He also received his first career Busch Series win at the Ames/Peak 200.
Kodiak became Schrader’s sponsor in 1990. Although he failed to win, he collected three poles, and seven top-fives, dropping to tenth in points. In 1991, he got his third win at the Motorcraft Quality Parts 500, and his final win to date at Dover International Speedway. He had nine total top-five finishes and finished ninth in the final points standings. In 1992, he dropped to seventeenth in the standings after posting eleven top-tens. The following season, Schrader returned to ninth in the points and won a career-high six poles. He had his career-best points finish in 1994, when he finished fourth. He also won his most recent Busch race at Talladega.
In 1995, Budweiser became Schrader’s primary sponsor. He won his final pole with Hendrick at Pocono Raceway and dropped back to seventeenth. He survived a horrifying crash in the DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. After he improved only to twelfth in the standings in 1996, Schrader left Hendrick Motorsports after a nine-year association with the team.
In 1997, Schrader was hired to drive the #33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Andy Petree Racing. He had eight top-tens and won two poles, finishing tenth in the standings, his most recent top-ten points finish. The following season, he posted three fourth-place finishes and won two poles over the last five races of the season. He won his final Cup pole at Talladega in 1999, but despite a fifteenth-place points run, Schrader failed to finish in the top-five all year long, and departed Petree.
He signed to drive the #36 M&M’s Pontiac Grand Prix for MB2 Motorsports. In his first year of competition, Schrader had two top-tens and finished eighteenth in the standings. He posted five top-tens in 2001, but dropped to nineteenth in the standings. During the Daytona 500, he was collected in a final-lap crash where Dale Earnhardt lost his life, the image of Schrader peering into Earnhardt’s car, only to jump back and frantically signal for assistance, is etched into the minds of many racing fans; his interview with Jeanne Zelasko during Fox Sports‘ postrace show was the first sign to many that something was terribly wrong with the seven-time Winston Cup Champion, as he appeared visibly shaken and, upon being asked if Earnhardt was okay, stated “I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.” In 2002, Schrader did not finish in the top-ten in a single race, the first time that happened since 1984. Following that season, he departed MB2.
Despite an original lack of sponsorship, Schrader was announced as the driver of the #49 BAM Racing Dodge Intrepid for 2003. Soon, 1-800-Call-ATT became the team’s primary sponsor. One memorable moment from the season was early in a race at Pocono Raceway, when he spun around in Turn 1 and smacked the wall hard with the rear end of his car, flipped once, then came to rest on the apron of the track in flames. He was unhurt. At the Brickyard 400, Schrader’s qualifying time was too slow (and the team was out of provisionals) to make the field, the first time since 1984 that Schrader had missed a Cup race. He DNQ-d three more times that season and fell to 36th in points. In 2004, Schrader’s previous sponsor Schwan Food Company became BAM’s new sponsor, and Schrader responded with a sixth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. He had three more top-tens the following season and matched his previous year’s run of 31st in points.
2006 – 2007
In 2006, Schrader drove the #21 Little Debbie/Motorcraft/United States Air Force Ford for Wood Brothers Racing. In 2007, he ran a part-time schedule with the Wood Brothers, sharing the ride with rookie Jon Wood. After the team fell out of the top-35 in owner’s points, Bill Elliott became their new driver until the team returned to the top 35. Schrader returned to BAM Racing at Indianapolis, and later regained his spot with the Wood Brothers beginning at Loudon, before being replaced again by Elliott late in the year. Schrader also drove seventeen races in the Craftsman Truck Series for Bobby Hamilton Racing in the #18 Fastenal Dodge Ram, earning two top-five finishes.
Schrader returned to BAM Racing in 2008. However after making only 2 of the first 5 races, BAM Racing switched to Toyota. After the 6th race of the season at Martinsville, VA where Kenny qualified the new Microsoft Toyota in 7th place and finishing 37th, BAM Racing decided they needed to sit the next 2 races out in order to complete a fleet of the new Toyota cars. After the 2 weeks, it was announced that a primary sponsor had backed out of its deal, leaving BAM Racing and Kenny with no other option but to temporarily suspend operations. NASCAR.com reported on April 15, 2008 that the team may not return to racing until the fall. Schrader ran the race in a one-off at Talladega, AL on April 27, 2008 in the #70 Haas/CNC Chevy, sponsored by Hunt Brothers Pizza, qualifying a strong 3rd, but finishing 42nd due to motor problems.
Schrader qualified a fourth Richard Childress Racing entry into the Coca Cola 600 on May 25. He qualified the #33 Camping World sponsored Chevy in the 33rd position, and finished 33rd. Schrader signed a multi race deal in August that would allow him to share a seat with Joey Logano for Jeff Moorad (Hall of Fame Racing) in the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota in various races through the end of the year. It was later announced that he would split the 2009 Cup schedule with Phoenix Racing’s #09 car alongside Brad Keselowski, Sterling Marlin, and Mike Bliss, but never ran. He made two starts in the Truck Series for himself, and seven starts in the ARCA series with six top-tens in 2009.
Schrader started 14th and finished 14th in the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on February 6, 2010 driving the #82 Red Bull Racing Toyota. That same year, he qualified for Martinsville marking his first Cup points race since the November 2008 event at Phoenix International Raceway. Schrader finished 18th after starting 38th and leading seven laps for Latitude 43 Motorsports.
In 2011, Schrader ran a part-time Cup schedule for FAS Lane Racing. With 7 starts, Ken posted a season best finish of 21st at Martinsville during the fall race. He ran thirteen races for the team in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012.nKen has also inked a deal to run at least 9 races in 2013 for FAS Lane Racing with Federated Auto Parts as the sponsor.