In his 40-plus years of racing just about anything on wheels, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Kenny Schrader has been around, and around, and around.
In fact, he says he has raced at more than 450 tracks of all shapes, sizes and surfaces and in 46 of the 50 states in the nation - the only exceptions being Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho and Rhode Island.
"I'm sure they have some tracks in those states, but I just haven't had a chance to race there, yet," Schrader said in a phone interview.
Though Washington state was not included in that list, Schrader said he had not previously raced in the region all that much, only previously taking the green flag at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe and South Sound Speedway in Tenino.
That's why he said he jumped at the chance to participate in the Wild Wild West Modified Speedweek, which is scheduled to wrap up on Saturday, June 23, at Skagit Speedway in Alger.
The series finale will mark Schrader's first visit to the 3/10-mile, high-banked clay oval in Alger.
But for a guy that has raced as many different tracks as Schrader, he has no worries about learning a new track.
"We don't do anything (to prepare) really," Schrader said. "When we get there, we look at the track and guess on the gear and chassis setup. It varies from track to track sometimes. We just go off the last 450-plus tracks we've raced at and find a place to start and adjust from there."
That plan worked pretty well for Schrader on his first two nights racing in the Modified Speedweek, as he won Tuesday, June 19, at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Ore., and Wednesday, June 20, at Sunset Speedway in Banks, Ore. - both tracks Schrader had not previously raced.
Though Schrader planned to race Friday, June 22, at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma before arriving in Alger, he missed the first three events in the series so that he could he could race in the Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, June 17.
So what is it like going from carrying in excess of 200 mph into the corners at Michigan to turning sub-90 mph laps at a dirt track like Skagit Speedway less than a week later?
"I've done it for so long, it's something I really don't think about," Schrader said. "Every track is different, but you're just turning circles. You try to go around the circles as fast as you can, no matter how big it is. You pretty much do the same stuff, no matter where you are."
Throughout his career, Schrader has done it pretty darned good, no matter what track he's racing at or who he's racing against.
The 57-year-old Schrader, who was born in Fenton, Mo., but now lives in Concord, N.C., has won the 1980 USAC Stock Car Rookie of the Year, the 1982 USAC Silver Crown Championship, the 1983 USAC Sprint Car Championship and was selected the 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year.
He's raced in 745 races during his 28-year career on NASCAR's biggest stage, winning four times - first at the 1984 Pepsi 420 at Nashville and most recently at the 1988 Talladega (Ala.) DieHard 500 - and scored 185 Top 10 finishes and the pole for 23 races. He also owns two NASCAR Nationwide Series wins and one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Schrader, who also works as a commentator for Speed TV, said he plans to race seven more races in the Sprint Cup Series this year - giving him 12 for the season - with Kentucky next on his schedule for June 30.
"We're excited to have one of the most versatile drivers racing today in Kenny Schrader at Skagit Speedway," Skagit Speedway promoter Steve Beitler said in a press release. "We have had a lot of big-name drivers run up here in the last decade like Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and others, and now to have Kenny Schrader is quite an honor."
Despite all the racing he's done on asphalt tracks around NASCAR circuits, Schrader said he's actually a little partial to the grass-roots dirt tracks like Skagit Speedway, especially when he's racing his Federated Auto Parts Modified.
"Dirt is just a little more fun," Schrader said. "There are good dirt tracks all over the country."
And Schrader said he is anxious to tackle yet another one on Saturday at Skagit Speedway.
His first two nights racing in the series, Schrader said the car count was in the high 40s, and Skagit Speedway organizers are expecting similar numbers at a track that usually features sprint cars.
"The modifieds don't have the power of the sprints - it's probably about three-quarters of a sprint," Schrader said. "Plus, the tires are only 8 inches wide. It's really a car you've got to finesse and use throttle control. It's hard to get the power down to drive up off the corner, but they're fun to race, and I think they're fun to watch."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2271.
WILD WILD WEST MODIFIED SPEEDWEEK
June 16: At Southern Oregon Speedway (Jesse Williamson winner)
June 17: At Siskiyou Motor Speedway (Alex Stanford winner)
June 18: At Cottage Grove Speedway (Scott Lenz winner)
June 19: At Willamette Speedway (Kenny Schrader winner)
June 20: At Sunset Speedway Park (Kenny Schrader winner)
June 22: At Grays Harbor Raceway (winner not available)
Saturday, June 23: At Skagit Speedway
Gates open: 5 p.m.
Racing begins: 7 p.m.
Tickets: Adults (18-64) $13; juniors (7-17), seniors (65 and older), military $8; children (6 and under) free
Reach DAVID RASBACH email@example.com or call 715-2271.