In the Pits- KSR
‘Young development driver’ turns 52
Ken Schrader, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on May 29, may be the oldest driver in most of the Nextel Cup races he enters these days, but he’s no longer the senior driver on his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team.
Bobby Hamilton Racing, owner of the No. 18 Fastenal Dodge truck that Schrader drives in NCTS events, hired 62-year-old Joe Ruttman to share the ride with Schrader since Schrader’s Nextel Cup schedule does not permit him to compete full time in the truck series. Ruttman is slated to drive the No. 18 Fastenal Dodge in seven races that Schrader can’t this season.
“I have been joking with the race team about how I am the young development driver now when compared to Joe,” Schrader quipped. “Ruttman is a great guy and will do an amazing job for the team when I can’t be there. He has had tremendous success in the truck series and at BHR. He was very instrumental in the early success of the truck series.
“A lot of people think he has not been around the past couple of years, but he has kept himself busy with testing for manufacturers,” Schrader continued. “I know BHR took him and tested him for 500 laps at the Nashville Motorplex, and their speeds were impressive on old tires. The fact that he ran 500 laps, which is like two truck races, on that track on a hot afternoon just proves he can still get the job done.”
With 13 victories in 168 starts, Ruttman is tied for seventh on the all-time NCTS winners’ list. The Tennessee native piloted the No. 18 Dodge for the late Hamilton Sr.’s organization in 2000 and 2001. Coincidently, he gave the company its first victory at Phoenix Inter-national Raceway in 2000, the same venue Hamilton won his first Nextel Cup win in 1996.
In other news, Jamie Hayes, who shares go-kart racing roots with team owner Ken Schrader, made his Busch East Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 52 Monte Carlo SS for Ken Schrader Racing. Hayes, 32, drove the Hendrick-sponsored car to a 13th place finish (in a field of 30) in the Greased Lightning 150 held at the Greenville- Pickens (South Carolina) Speedway.
Like Schrader, Hayes developed his racing skills and his love for motorsports as a kid in karts. From there, and with the help of his late uncle, John Hendrick, he moved on to race Legend cars and Late Models at numerous tracks in the Carolinas and Virginia. In recent years, Hayes, who lives in Charlotte, NC, has competed in the Whelen All-American Series.
“With Ken Schrader and Rick Hendrick at the helm, a driver couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in,” Hayes told Warren Record reporter Hope Callahan before his Busch debut.