Napa’s Rob Krider, driving for Double Nickel Nine Motorsports, finally earned a podium finish this season after 10 rounds of racing in the Honda Challenge series.
That second-place finish at Willow Springs International Raceway gives Double Nickel Nine Motorsports the points lead in the National Auto Sport Association Honda Challenge series.
“For me, second place is about the hardest place to finish, because you are so close to victory, you can taste it,” he said. “But I understand the big picture when it comes to an entire season of racing. Second place at Willow gave us the overall points lead, which is the bigger goal — winning a championship for this team.”
Even though, by Krider’s standards, he has struggled with DNN Motorsports this year in not winning a single race, the team does have 800 points. He is 25 points ahead of last year’s Honda Challenge National Champion, Steve Peterson. The two have battled back and forth all season long, and things got interesting between the two of them at Willow Springs.
“Steve had the pole on Sunday and I started next to him on the outside,” Krider recalled. “The starter held the green flag for what seemed like forever. When it finally dropped, I got the jump on Steve and took the lead. Steve ran into the back of me three different times letting me know, apparently, I was in his way.”
They traded places for the lead multiple times during the race. They were a dead even match with only 16 thousandths of a second difference between their lap times, with the small advantage going to Rob.
“I had the power in the straights thanks to the engine Rich Olivier at TEM Machine Shop built for our Acura Integra,” Krider said. “But Steve in his Honda CRX was lighter and more nimble in the corners, hence him redecorating my rear bumper in the braking zones.”
As the race progressed, Krider was holding the lead and it looked like the he would finally get a win this season. He has led Honda Challenge races before but always run into some bad luck or mechanical failure and had the win snatched from him.
This race would be no different. He lost a plug wire going into Turn 4 in front of the Budweiser Balcony, resulting in his four-cylinder engine suddenly becoming a three-cylinder engine.
“The moment I lost power, Steve zipped right by me,” he said. “When I heard the ignition problem, I knew couldn’t win. All that was left to do at that point was finish the race on three cylinders and get as many points as possible.”
Krider was able to limp the car to the finish line, earn second place, and give the team the points it needed to get the lead in the championship.
“I can tell you one thing about this team, they don’t quit,” Krider said. “We have run into every problem a team can have this season. It’s been the season from hell, but we started every race and took the checkered at every race. That is how you win championships. You don’t quit.”
The next goal for the team is to prep two cars for the NASA National Championships at Buttonwillow Raceway Oct. 13-16. At that event, the season points championship will be decided and a Honda Challenge National Champion will be crowned. The question that remains is, will it be Double Nickel Nine Motorsports and Rob Krider?
“We have learned an enormous amount this year,” he said. “And we have met some great racers and been helped a lot by other teams, like Marcel DeKerpel from DK Racing, who fixed a CV joint boot for us Saturday night in trade for some Tactical Ops craft beer we brought to the track. It’s a great group of racers and the Nationals is definitely going to be dog fight. I just hope we’re the dog that wins that fight.”
The team is sponsored by TEM Machine Shop, Performance In-Frame Tuning, B&G Tires, Driven steering wheels, Hasport motor mounts, 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 about the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports.