Race Weekend Central

Full Throttle: Petty’s Better Choice for the Indianapolis 500

After hearing that John Andretti is going to drive a car fielded by Richard Petty to try and make the Indianapolis 500, the thought crossed my mind: Why not give someone else a chance who isn’t in a Cup ride right now? In his long and storied career of racing almost everything that has wheels, Ken Schrader has never raced in the Indianapolis 500. Petty would gain a lot of support and attention if he would give Schrader one more shot to make the greatest spectacle in racing.

Schrader started his racing career on the typical path to make the 500. He began racing midgets and sprint cars in the Midwest under the USAC banner. He won the 1982 USAC Silver Crown and 1983 USAC Sprint Car championships. He had a car at Indianapolis in 1983 that was more than fast enough in practice to make the race but crashed it before qualifying. His team did not have a backup car so he was unable to make the field. He entered cars the next two years but was unable to make the race.

Schrader is a throwback to the old days when drivers would race anything, anywhere, anytime. It was nothing back in the day to see AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti and Johnny Rutherford run sprint cars on dirt two nights before they raced in the Indianapolis 500. Schrader is cut from that same mold. He competes at tracks all over the United States, routinely running around 100 races a year. He’s raced in every state in the Union except Rhode Island, and that last hurdle should be crossed in the not too distant future.

Schrader has a loyal fanbase that would love to see him get one more shot at the biggest open-wheel race in the world, and Schrader still has the talent to get the job done. Since Schrader isn’t running in a Cup car this year, it would be far easier for him to spend the required time at Indy to get the car up to speed and make it as race-ready as possible for the 500.

While Schrader most likely wouldn’t admit it, he’d love to have another shot at Indianapolis, and Richard Petty would be hard pressed to find a better wheelman or a nicer gentleman to put behind the wheel of his car than Kenny.

About the author


What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via