Napa’s Rob Krider maintained his title as Honda Challenge champion after winning the National Auto Sport Association Western States Championships at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California.
This is Krider’s second consecutive major title championship in the Honda Challenge series while driving for Double Nickel Nine Motorsports. The back of the team’s T-shirts have the slogan “Wrench. Race. Win. Repeat.” Repeat is exactly what they did with Krider taking the checkered flag again for the second year in a row at the championships.
“There was certainly a monkey off my back after winning the title last year,” he said. “But I wanted to come back and not just win it again, but dominate.”
Domination is what it looked like during the three-day racing event. Krider earned the pole position in qualifying, won two qualifying races while leading each from start to finish, and then took home the gold in the final championship race.
“Rob was unbeatable at Thunderhill,” said his proud father, Jim Krider. “Rob and the 38 car were just in perfect sync during the championships and it was a winning combination that nobody could touch.”
Touch was exactly one of the terms Krider’s crew chief, Stephen Young, used to describe the No. 38 car during the weekend: “Don’t touch it. It’s working perfectly.”
Young and Krider were also teamed together as crew chief and driver when they won the Honda Challenge highest title last year.
“Stephen is an engineer and he brings a lot to the car setup,” Krider said. “When he talks, I listen, and we work back and forth collaboratively to find the right set-up. He pushes me to the next level, and that is what you need to stay on top.”
The closest car to Krider at the championships was his racing teammate at DNN Motorsports, Keith Kramer, who took second place in the team’s No. 33 car.
“Earning a 1-2 finish for the team is a dream come true,” Kramer said. “Both cars worked great all weekend and that credit goes to Aj Gracy and his shop in Napa Performance In-Frame Tuning.”
Gracy’s shop not only ensured DNN Motorsports earned another championship, Gracy earned his own championship as well in the National Auto Sport Association Time Trial series. Driving his white Mazda MX-6, he went around Thunderhill faster than anyone in the TTD class, with a lap of 2:00.876 securing a victory for him and his shop.
But Gracy wasn’t done there. Dave Schotz, a fellow Krider Racing alum, was competing in his Corvette when he ran into engine computer problems. Gracy walked over and sourced the problem quickly, getting Schotz back on track. Schotz went on to win the ST2 racing class after starting in the back of the field.
“Aj earned three championships this weekend – one for himself, one for DNN, and one for Dave Schotz,” Krider said. “We are all lucky to have Aj around.”
Schotz, Kramer, Gracy and Krider all drove together for Krider Racing in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in 2012, when they earned a podium finish in the grueling race and bettered the factory Mazda team. Their adventure was captured in the documentary film “Double Down.”
“We have all been bonded for life after that race,” Krider said, “so we always help each other out, no matter what race team we are running with now.”
DNN Motorsports is sponsored by Performance In-Frame Tuning, Napa Valley Muffler, B&G Tires, HA Motorsports, Tactical Ops Brewing, Chandler Autosport, Olson Auto Body, Bay Ex, Economy Stock Feed, J&B Farms, TEM Machine Shop, I/O Port Racing Supplies, Smart Racing Products, Hasport motor mounts, ProSpeed RS 683 brake fluid, Carbotech performance brakes, Insane Shafts, Autopower, Cadet Blues the novel, Phase2Motortrend, Hardrace, Devsport, Synchrotech Transmissions, Unorthadox Racing, Toyo Tires, Mountain Top Racing, and Sampson Racing Communications.
To secure the Southern California Regional Championship, where Team Double Nickel Nine is currently leading in the season points, the team is now in Buttonwillow for a double-race weekend.
“The day after the championships, instead of resting, I spent the entire day at the shop working on the 38 car getting it ready for Buttonwillow,” Krider said. “Wrench, Race, Win, Repeat. It works for us.”
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