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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2006 Driver Review: Ken Schrader

Ken “Really Love Those Little Debbie Donuts” Schrader
2006 Ride: No. 21 Little Debbie/U.S. Air Force/Motorcraft Ford Fusion
2006 Owner: Glen Wood
2006 Crew Chief: David Hyder (Feb.-July), Michael “Fatback” McSwain (July-Nov.)
Stats: 36 races, zero wins, zero top fives, two top 10s, 31st in points.

High Point: Schrader and company had their moments, and a nice run at Richmond in September was one of those bright spots. The No. 21 Ford ran in the top 10 all night long, eventually winding up finishing the race in the seventh position. Unfortunately, Schrader waited until the final race of the “regular season” to show what his team was capable of, and with all of the focus on which drivers would make the Chase, his run, along with the strong performances of some other surprising drivers, was almost completely ignored by the NBC broadcast team.

Low Point: Since the Richmond run was so totally ignored, Schrader set out to duplicate the performance in the Subway 500 at Martinsville in October. Running strong early, the Wood Brothers team appeared to have a definite top-10 finish in the bag with strong potential for a top five… up until a Roush Racing rookie decided to show just how green he really was. David Ragan, running several laps off the pace, decided to dispute Schrader for racing space instead of respecting a lead-lap car. The ensuing “discussion” was finished quickly courtesy of Ragan’s front bumper, and Schrader suddenly found himself in the wall with a destroyed racecar before he knew what hit him. What should have been a strong finish quickly became a very disappointing 41st-place result for the No. 21 car.

Summary: Former driver Ricky Rudd and crew chief Michael McSwain had this team moving forward at the end of last season, so many expected Schrader and Hyder to be able to pick up where they left off. The duo started off strong with a top-10 finish in the season opening Daytona 500… but while they showed flashes of strength at times, consistency over the season as a whole was lacking. McSwain’s return in July looked promising for finding the secret to success, but the consistency factor still proved elusive in the end; given the performance of this team in 2005, it’s hard to view this season as anything but a bit of a step back for the Wood Brothers.

2007 Outlook: Schrader will scale his Cup effort back to part-time as he shares the No. 21 with Jon Wood, family heir to the legendary racing seat. Schrader is scheduled to compete in just 18 races; but don’t worry, the busiest man in racing won’t be taking a break. In addition to his Nextel Cup duties, Schrader will also drive the No. 18 Fastenal Dodge for Bobby Hamilton Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series. Schrader is scheduled to compete in the majority of Truck Series races, only missing those that pose a conflict to his Nextel Cup duties.

Grade: C-