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2007 Driver Review: Ken Schrader

Ken Schrader
2007 Ride: No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford (Feb. – May; Sept. – Oct.); No. 47 Wood Brothers/JTG Ford (April – Texas); No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge (July – Indianapolis)
2007 Owner: Wood Brothers (No. 21); Beth Ann Morgenthau (No. 49)
2007 Primary Sponsor: Little Debbie/Air Force (No. 21); Paralyzed Veterans of America (No. 49)
2007 Crew Chief: Michael McSwain, Gene Nead (No. 21); Dean Johnson (No. 49)

Stats: 13 races, zero wins, zero top fives, zero top 10s, 49th in points.
Best Finish: 19th, Martinsville (April)

High Point: Trying to find a high point for Schrader last season was a major challenge. While he did lead two laps at Darlington, his No. 21 Ford was taken out in a crash and finished 41st – typical of his run with the Wood Brothers throughout 2007. Frankly, the only finish worth mentioning in that car was a 19th-place finish at Martinsville; not only was that Schrader’s best run with the team in 12 starts, it was the only time he finished on the lead lap all season. Also notable was his lone race driving with a group of old friends – the No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge Schrader drove during the 2004-05 seasons. Pressed into service during a one-race deal for Indianapolis, the 52-year-old not only qualified the underdog team on speed, he brought the car home 25th, the car’s fourth-best finish during all of 2007.

Low Point: Pretty much all season was basically a low point for this former Cup race winner, still a competitive driver in other forms of racing but one who seems unable to find the chemistry he needs at this level. Perhaps the worst point came after Darlington; following a crash that left Schrader 41st and his No. 21 team outside the Top 35 in car owner points, he was replaced by fellow veteran Bill Elliott and his coveted champion’s provisional. That locked the No. 21 car into the field for the foreseeable future – and left Schrader on the sidelines seeking other work.

Summary: Schrader started the year with a full-time ride in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford, but after struggling early in the year, the team fell out of the Top 35 in owner points, and he failed to qualify twice. By the end of May, Elliott was in the car to guarantee a starting spot, leaving Schrader in limbo and limited to his ride in the Craftsman Truck Series. Schrader did come back later in the season and drove four more races in the No. 21 – but he averaged a 30th-place finish, and before he knew it Elliott was back in the seat. That left Schrader on the bench for the final six events of the NASCAR Cup season.

But this Missouri native can still get the job done in a stock car, as was evidenced by an ARCA win again in 2007. It appears Schrader just needs to find the right chemistry to be able to be competitive; however, after two years with the Wood Brothers paired with several different crew chiefs, it’s apparent that chemistry’s missing at the No. 21.

2008 Outlook: At this time, Schrader has not announced any plans to compete in Cup series events in 2008. However, he will certainly be racing in upwards of 100 dirt races around the country, and plans to run the full Craftsman Truck Series schedule for Bobby Hamilton Racing. Despite his struggles in the No. 21 car, there is also a chance that he may drive a limited schedule for the Woods if sponsorship can be arranged, or if there is a need for him to fill in for a race or two.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: C-
2007 Grade: D-

Editor’s Note: The 2007 season is over, and even the Final Chase exam has come to a close – which means it’s time to give each driver their annual year-end evaluation. For the second straight year, your favorite Frontstretch staff members are giving driver reviews for every full-time wheelman on the circuit, giving you insight into the seasons of anyone from AJ Allmendinger to JJ Yeley. Be sure to keep coming in every weekday this offseason for even more original content on Frontstretch!