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Published: Friday, 5/12/2006

Schrader, other ARCA stars are headed to Benore Road

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ken Schrader was in town in February to talk to NASCAR enthusiasts at a press conference at Toledo Speedway.
Ken Schrader was in town in February to talk to NASCAR enthusiasts at a press conference at Toledo Speedway.
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Ken Schrader knows the big time. He has raced at Daytona, Darlington, and the old Brickyard. But he cannot satisfy his thirst for a unwieldy run around the track with just those 36 weekend dates on the Nextel Cup circuit.

"First and foremost, I am a big fan of racing, so I go looking for places to run," Schrader said. "If you truly love to race, the town, the track, the time, and the place - it won't matter all that much - just so you find a good race."

So Schrader goes shopping for other races to supplement his diet.

He's found one he really likes - the ARCA Hantz Group 200 at Toledo Speedway, which runs next on May 21.

"I'm a big fan of the ARCA series, and when I get the chance to compete on all of the different tracks from the half-miles, like here at Toledo, and the mile dirt tracks like Springfield, and all the way to Daytona and Talladega. I'm just a real fan of a series that runs all those different types of places."

Schrader has 39 ARCA series starts to his credit, and he has won 12 races on the circuit and captured 12 poles since he made his ARCA debut in 1981.

Despite his success in the Nextel Cup ranks (four wins, 23 poles, $28 million in winnings), Schrader keeps venturing out into as many other forms of racing as he can.

"I think it just comes from the way I started. You start out racing, and it's your hobby, but it's what you want to do," he said. "You're running nonwing sprint cars for $300 to win, and you had to run an awful lot to make a living, so I raced as much or all that I could. Now I do it full time, but it is still a lot of fun to just go racing."

On a recent stop in Las Vegas, Schrader took part in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and dirt Late Model Series on Thursday and Friday nights, then ran in the Busch race on Saturday and the Cup race Sunday.

"To me, that's a perfect weekend," Schrader said.

He'll race at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday night, May 20, before flying in for the Hantz Group 200 at Toledo Speedway the next day. Schrader will have to hold off seven-time ARCA series champ Frank Kimmel to close that weekend with a win.

Kimmel has been so dominant at Toledo Speedway that over the past 12 years, only three drivers have beaten him there - Schrader, Bobby Bowsher, and the late Blaise Alexander. Kimmel won the September ARCA race here, while Schrader was victorious in the May event in 2005.

Kimmel has good reason to be confident about his chances on the quick half-mile track, since he has won here nine times.

"I absolutely love Toledo Speedway," Kimmel said. "The ARCA RE/MAX Series belongs on these half-mile tracks - the Salem's, the Toledo's, the Winchester's. I'm not saying we don't have a place on the superspeedways, but the short tracks are where the series' roots are, where it built much of its character and identity."

Kimmel, who has won the last six ARCA points races, figures to have plenty of competition since the May Hantz Group 200 race a year ago drew a record 57 teams to the speedway.

Bobby Gerhart, four-time winner of the ARCA season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway, is also expected to be in the field.

"The Toledo track is like a second home to me," Kimmel said. "It's where I won my first ARCA race in '94. It'll always be special to me for that reason alone; but the wins there just seem to get better and better."

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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