TOLEDO, Ohio — It’s no secret that Ken Schrader’s got the experience and skill to win at Salem Speedway, but you have to have the luck to go with it.
Nobody understands that more than Schrader, who won only in the hard luck category last year. While he was fast in both ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards events at Salem in 2014, he just couldn’t find the good luck to match.
“I just hope it goes better than last year,” said Schrader, who is entered in this Sunday’s, April 26 Federated Auto Parts 200 at Salem.
Schrader, whose one and only ARCA win at Salem was in 1999, was referring to the luck he had during the race, and on the way to the track.
“Last year, we had the speed…I just screwed up with a lapped car.”
Schrader was leading last year’s spring race inside of five laps to go when he got tangled up with Kyle Weatherman as he was about to put him a lap down. The incident caved in the right-front fender, causing the tire to go down, which sent him into the turn one wall. He limped home eighth.
“In the fall race, had an issue…went a bunch of laps down…got a bunch of laps back…finished fifth.”
That was only part of the bad luck Schrader encountered around last year’s Salem ARCA races.
“We just didn’t have any luck last year at Salem. I wrecked my truck on the way to test…never did get to test. Then, in the fall, I fell down on my bike heading to the track. I’m hoping this year’s goes a little smoother.”
Schrader was en route to Salem on his motorcycle when he went down on wet, slippery pavement on an on-ramp leading to the expressway. Schrader wasn’t broken, but plenty sore by the time he made it to the track for the race.
Schrader, who turns 60 in May, has already got 20 races in the books this year, with 90-plus on his 2015 calendar. Nothing new here…he’s been doing it this way for decades.
Schrader finished fifth in his Federated Auto Parts modified last Friday night at Callaway Speedway in Fulton, Missouri, and second at Macon (Ill.) Speedway Saturday night. En route to Salem this weekend, Schrader’s stopping off first at Southern Iowa Speedway Wednesday night for another dirt modified adventure.
That said, the NASCAR veteran and 17-time ARCA winner should be plenty warmed up for this weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 200 at Salem.
“I’m ready. I’m always ready for Salem. One of the things I like about that place is that no matter how much you improve it, there are certain characteristics about the track that you won’t change. It takes a ridiculous about of money to repave the entire track, but what they did last year…the repaving of three and four…that was a really good thing. You’re not going to change the line through there (three and four)…the radius and banking is going to keep the car right at the top, no matter what you do down there. But what they did was widen the groove…really improved it. They fixed what they needed to. Hopefully, it’s good to go for another 10 years.”
Despite just one ARCA victory at Salem 16 years ago, Schrader understands how to win on the historic short track.
“Salem’s a handful either way you cut it. Besides racing the competitors, which we’ll keep you busy in itself, you have to race the track. That place will sneak up on you. It’s a lot easier to get in trouble there…easier than most. We had some really good shots at two (wins) last year…it just didn’t work out for us. We’ll try again.”
Schrader’s most recent ARCA win was at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile dirt in September of 2013, making him the oldest winner in ARCA history at 58.
The Federated Auto Parts 200 at Salem will spread out over two days, Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26. Practice for the Federated Auto Parts 200 will include two sessions from 12:00 noon to 12:45 p.m. and final practice from 1:15 to 2:00 Saturday afternoon, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 3:30. Federated Auto Parts 200 raceday festivities get underway Sunday with pre-race ceremonies and driver introductions at 1:45, with the green flag to follow at 2:15.
-ARCA Racing Series Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com