Napa’s Rob Krider might be second in the Honda Challenge championship season points, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to him.
After six rounds of the National Auto Sport Association road racing series, he still has yet to taste victory. This doesn’t sit well with Krider, as he is used to winning races — on dirt or pavement, sprint races, endurance races, even Napa’s coffin races.
So why hasn’t he won in 2016?
“The best way I can explain it,” he said, “is a series of unfortunate events, coupled with terrible luck, fatigued metal, and me making really bad decisions behind the wheel.”
Those bad decisions have landed the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports team, a team Rob signed with for 2016, with broken race cars and fourth-place finishes.
Round 6 was on May 15 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, the same banked oval course NASCAR runs, with Honda Challenge also using the sports car course in the infield.
“We were looking good on power with a new engine from TEM Machine Shop,” said Krider. “The DNN Motorsports team came up with a new aerodynamics package for the event. They decided to forego the down force on the car to make it faster on the high speed oval and then it was up to me to keep the car on four tires in the twisty infield.”
When the green flag dropped, the Honda Challenge field roared across the start-finish line in Fontana with Rob momentarily up to second place. The power from engine builder Rich Olivier at TEM Machine Shop was just what the team needed. But as the field transitioned from the banking onto the infield road course, the pack began to pull away from Krider as he struggled with handling issues immediately.
“The car was great and fast on the banking, but the spring rates and aero were too soft for the tight infield curves and I was getting left behind,” he said. “Every corner, I could see the win slipping away from me. It was really frustrating.”
Krider battled on the track, fighting for every position, and made the car as wide as possible to hold off attackers. But when the checkered flag waved, he was just beyond the podium in fourth place. The finishing position kept DNN Motorsports in the second place position for the championship season, but that wasn’t satisfactory for Krider.
“We are due for a win,” he said. “Six races in a row and no trophy, no champagne? This is getting ridiculous.”
Rounds 7 and 8 will be at Buttonwillow Raceway Park June 18-19. Krider is working with his new race team to rebuild the entire car for the next race. A new transmission from Synchrotech with a limited slip will help put the power to the ground from the new engine built at TEM. Additionally, Unorthodox Racing supplied underdrive pulleys to give the team more horsepower.
Upgraded springs and new shock settings on the Motion Control Suspension adjustable coil-overs and Hardrace control arms should help the car handle better on the twisty Southern California race track. The car’s AEM engine management will be tuned by AJ Gracy at Performance In-Frame Tuning.
“Buttonwillow is a track where I have won a lot of races, and it is the track where the NASA Western National Championships will be held in October of this year,” said Krider. “We need to have a successful weekend if we have any shot of a national championship in the fall.”
The team will run its updated backup car for the next two rounds, with the team’s feature car being saved for the big race in October.
Keith Kramer, DNN Motorsports team owner, said he isn’t willing to lose the team’s premier car for just a regional race.
“That car is being built and saved for one specific reason, so we can win a national championship with Rob behind the wheel,” Kramer said. “We will test concepts and ideas during the season while Rob beats up the B car. The A car will have to wait for its day in the sun in October.”
Krider doesn’t always agree with the team owner’s decision not to use the best equipment for the next event.
“Why don’t we put duct tape over one of my eyes and tie my gear shifting hand behind my back, too? Because it’s not a good plan,” he said. “I understand the team’s concern with conserving resources. Admittedly, I have bent some metal this year. But I want to be more aggressive, I want to win every race, so if we have a faster car in the trailer, let’s pull it out and use it.”
His father, Jim Krider, the patriarch of Napa’s Krider Racing, has been watching the season unfold from the outside looking in and is bewildered by some of the decisions the team has made.
“I’ve never seen Rob struggle this much in a race series. They need to figure out what it is Rob needs and give it to him. It seems like they have spent most of the season chasing the car and fixing things instead of developing the chassis and arriving at the track ready to race.”
“I think I’m starting to wear the guys at DNN Motorsports down, and they are turning the B car into a B-plus or maybe an A-minus car for this next race at Buttonwillow,” Rob Krider said. “Sure, it’s still not quite the A car, but it still an improvement. We have gotten better every race and I just need a little bit more and we will be in the hunt.”
Kramer has his own opinion.
“If Rob drove as fast as his mouth moves, we would have already won four races this year,” he said.
With disagreements on car set-up and strategy, will Rob Krider and DNN Motorsports find victory? Only at the very moment the checkered flag falls will we know.
The team is sponsored by TEM Machine Shop, Performance In-Frame Tuning, B&G Tires, I/O Port Racing Supplies, ProSpeed RS 683 brake fluid, Chase Bays, Hardrace, Unorthodox Racing, AEM, Carbotech brakes, Toyo Tires, Economy Stock Feed, Insane Shafts, Autopower, Synchrotech Transmissions, Phase2Motortrend, J&B Farms, Kenclaire (West) Electrical, Cadet Blues the novel, Bay Ex, Sampson Racing Communications, Olson Auto Body, and Tactical Ops Brewing.
Visit www.team559.com for more on the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports team.