MORRISON, CO – July 18, 2018 – (Motor Sports Newswire)- A lot has changed since the last time Deric Kramer raced at his home track, Bandimere Speedway. The Sterling, Colo., native picked up his first career Pro Stock win earlier during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and is now on the verge of earning his first career berth in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
All of it is a new feeling for Kramer heading into this weekend’s 39th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, but it is a welcome one as he prepares to race in front of family and friends in his American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro. The Pro Stock victory in Topeka earlier this season was a huge career accomplishment for Kramer, and he’s looking to have a career-best showing this weekend in Denver as well.
“It’s definitely going to be a cool feeling,” said Kramer, who is currently 10th in points. “There’s definitely a ton of people there and it’s fun for everyone to be there and enjoy it. There’s no other track like it and I think that’s the best part. Denver is unique. There’s nothing at that elevation. The track is literally carved out of a side of a mountain and you’re looking out across the city.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX, including live final eliminations on FOX at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 22. It is the 14th of 24 events in 2018 and racing at an altitude of more than 5,800 feet is a unique challenge of the event, but one Kramer is accustomed to after racing at Bandimere Speedway for years growing up.
He’ll take plenty of added confidence into the event thanks to his breakout season. Kramer has raced at 11 of the 13 races in 2018, and has two final rounds to show for it. He has 12 rounds wins in those 11 races, already six more than his first 65 career races, posting two No. 1 qualifiers along the way. The massive uptick in performance from the car has been exciting for Kramer, but the team has also had to work through an adjustment in expectations along the way.
“The few races prior to (the win) was just shooting ourselves in the foot and making mistakes,” Kramer said. “ We knew we had a good enough car and if I would do good enough behind the wheel we would have a chance to win rounds. That’s when we came out with the attitude of not trying to set the world on fire. We just wanted to go make good runs, and if we made good runs we would have a chance. Our motto became let’s just not screw up four times in a row on Sunday.”
Kramer is one of eight different Pro Stock winners in 2018, an impressive display of parity. It also means nothing come easy in the class and that’s fine with Kramer, who will have to deal with the likes of points leader Erica Enders, three-time 2018 winner Tanner Gray, and two-time season winners Vincent Nobile, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Chris McGaha. There’s also getting used to a busier schedule, but being familiar with Denver should help this weekend.
“In year’s past, our home opener was kind of Topeka,” Kramer said. “That was kind of the beginning of the season. We went to Pomona and Vegas and Phoenix, but for the most part, that was kind of our preseason testing, and our season really started for us in Topeka and then the Western Swing. We’re a bunch of races in at this point. We’ve easily finished our season that we would normally run. (But) the Western Swing is going to be a lot of fun.”
Three-time Top Fuel world champ Antron Brown has three Denver wins, but is seeking his first in 2018 against the likes of points leader Steve Torrence and defending world champ Brittany Force.
Reigning Funny Car world champ Robert Hight will try to defend his Denver event win against the likes of points leader Courtney Force, Matt Hagan, who has back-to-back wins, and Ron Capps.
Eddie Krawiec won in Denver for the fourth time in 2017 and the reigning world champ is the current points leader over talents like Andrew Hines, Matt Smith and L.E. Tonglet.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Majestic jet car from El Arabe Racing, the Lucas Oil Muy Caliente jet and the Lucas Oil Terminal Velocity jet. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
Those in attendance will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with a few of the most renowned names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This will feature meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals include Kenny Bernstein, Judy Lilley, John Bandimere Jr. and more.
For the 17th consecutive year, the Mopar Big Block Party Presented by Pennzoil, scheduled for Thursday, July 19, from 6 to 10 p.m. MT, will serve as the “official starter” of the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar race weekend. The popular free-admission event, held on the streets of downtown Golden, Colorado, provides race fans the opportunity to meet their favorite Mopar Dodge Pennzoil NHRA drag racing stars in an hour-long autograph session. Attendees can experience virtual “rides” down the drag strip in Dodge Challenger SRT Demon race simulators and take virtual spins in simulators located in the Pennzoil display, hear live music from the Steve Thomas Band and visit a variety of food, drink and merchandise tents. For complete information on the Mopar Big Block Party Presented by Pennzoil, visit www.milehighblockparty.com.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5:15 and 7:00 p.m. on Friday, July 20, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 21, at 5:15 and 7:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 22.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-664-UWIN (8946) or 303-697-6001. Tickets also are available online at www.bandimere.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, and E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association