When Rob Krider was asked last month if he would win the Honda Challenge Road Racing National Championship this year, he didn’t hesitate for a moment when he said “Yes.”
That was a bold statement from a driver who hadn’t won a single race during the entire season, having to settle for second place while driving for a brand new racing team, Double Nickel Nine Motorsports.
Regardless of the multiple setbacks Krider had to deal with while working with the guys at DNN Motorsports, he remained confident that he would earn the national title. And when the checkered flag waved at Buttonwillow Raceway for all of the marbles over the Honda Challenge field Sunday at 11:45 a.m., it was the shiny nose of the blue, silver and orange No. 38 Acura Integra driven by Krider that earned the national championship win.
“There is no question this is the biggest accomplishment of my racing career,” said Krider, all smiles and sweat as he climbed out of his race car. “I’ve won a lot of races, and I’ve won regional championships, but to be a national champion, to say I’m the best in the country, that is a huge honor. It’s something I will absolutely never forget.”
His dad, Jim Krider, gave him a huge bear hug and congratulated him on accomplishing another milestone for the family team, Krider Racing.
“I’m so proud of Rob,” Jim Krider said. “He worked really hard this year. He has taken our name and really just gone to places I never imagined we would make it to. It is truly amazing what he has accomplished as a racer.”
Out on the track during the championship race, Krider was flawless. He started from the pole position, led every lap, set the fastest time in the race, dominated the race with a 12-second lead at one point, and then took the checkered flag like he owned it.
He didn’t put a single wheel off the track or lock up the brakes in a single corner. He was simply unbeatable at the championships. His brother, Randy Krider, was spotting for him in the tower and kept him calm on the radio.
“The entire race, Rob kept asking me, ‘What’s my gap? What’s my gap?’ and I just casually told him ‘It’s so big we stopped timing it. Just drive the car and don’t worry about it.”
Rob Krider really appreciated having is brother on the radio during the race.
“I trust my brother with my life,” Rob Krider said. “He’s been in that driver’s seat, he understands the race craft involved in a championship race, and he and I have won big races working together. Just the fact that I could hear his voice in my helmet as I was flying around the track allowed me to concentrate on what I needed to do in the car, and let him concentrate on the carnage in the race behind me.”
And the Honda Challenge 4 field had lots of carnage behind Rob Krider. The large field of Honda drivers had their sights set on him, as he was the one to beat during the qualifying races all weekend. From the first lap to the last in the final championship race there were crashes, cars running off of the track, and damage.
Luckily for Krider, he got a clean getaway during the standing start from the front row and had nothing to do with any of it.
“That was my plan all weekend, get out front and run,” he said. “I knew from racing all year with these guys that it would be a rough race and I truly wanted nothing to do with the shenanigans in the mid pack.”
Krider’s racing partner and owner of DNN Motorsports, Keith Kramer, wasn’t as lucky. Kramer started on the second row right behind Krider on the grid. During the first lap he had an off-track incident, relegating him to the back of the field. He had to fight during the entire race to gain back every position. When the checkered flag came out, Kramer had made it all the way up to third place with a damaged car, earning team Double Nickel Nine Motorsports a double podium finish at the national championships.
“That was the hardest, most hectic race of my life,” Kramer said, “and I think Rob had the most boring race of his life out in front.”
One of the biggest keys to the team’s success was their car chiefs for the weekend. Stephen Young came out from Arizona to run the No. 38 car for Krider all weekend and Bryce Lindlahr from Fresno ran the No. 33 car for Kramer.
“One of the reasons I was able to run as hard and fast as I did was based on the confidence that the car was perfect thanks to Stephen’s hard work,” said Krider. “I knew every adjustment was just where it needed to be. Randy, Stephen and I would discuss the set up on the car after every qualifying session. Once the three of us had a unanimous agreement on a change, then we would make it. If one of us had a good reason not to the make the change, then we would leave the car where it was.”
Young had a hard time making any changes to the car because Krider was so fast in it from the onset of the weekend.
“It felt strange to change a car that Rob just won a qualifying race in and earned a pole position, but he wanted to improve every session, so we discussed it and made the adjustment,” Young said. “Ultimately it was the right decision.”
The No. 38 car was clearly the fastest in the field and Krider said the credit belongs to two Napa businesses, TEM Machine Shop and Performance In-Frame Tuning. Rich Olivier at TEM hand-built the custom Honda B18A1 engine for the car and Aj Gracy at Performance In-Frame Tuning ensured the engine was efficient and powerful in the chassis.
“There is no question we brought a great engine to the championships,” Krider said. “We had the power to get out front and stay away from trouble. And we had Aj at the track, who was racing his Mazda MX-6 and setting super fast laps, available for any additional tuning of our AEM Infinity engine computer.”
Olivier was in Napa watching the race through the live feed and calling Rob Krider to get updates.
“It didn’t look like he was driving car that hard on TV,” Olivier said, “so I called him to see what was going on. Rob told me, ‘I don’t have to drive like a complete lunatic, you built me a fast engine, I can cruise it.’ That is a nice thing to hear from a driver if you’re an engine builder.”
Other Napa businesses contributed to the teams’ National Championship victory. Napa Valley Muffler built the custom racing exhaust. B&G Tires mounted all of the racing tires and gave a precise alignment to ensure both cars could get around the corners fast. Bay Area Express Delivery Services transported spare parts and racing gear to Buttonwillow to give the team everything it needed.
All of that support ensured when the champagne came out it was Krider and Kramer on the podium, showering each other with victory bubbly. The team won more than $1,500 from Toyo Tires and over $2,500 from Honda for their double podium finish.
“We really appreciate the support from Toyo and Honda,” said Krider. “To see the factory support the Honda Challenge series is really cool.”
After the race the crew celebrated with the team’s own beer, Double Nickel Nine IPA. Tactical Ops Brewing released its newest IPA, called Double Nickel Nine, with an image of the team’s Acura Integra on the label. Brewer Brandon Broussard came out to the races to support the guys and watch the team win the National Championship. He brought a keg of beer to celebrate.
“I’m glad I brought a full-sized keg because these guys really like to party after a race,” Broussard said. “The keg was empty in record time.”
Double Nickel Nine Motorsports is supported by Performance In-Frame Tuning, TEM Machine Shop, Napa Valley Muffler, B&G Tires, I/O Port Racing Supplies, Smart Racing Products, Devsport, Driven steering wheels, Hasport motor mounts, Motion Control Suspensions, ProSpeed RS 683 brake fluid, Chase Bays, Hardrace, Unorthodox Racing, AEM, Carbotech performance brakes, Toyo Tires, Economy Stock Feed, Insane Shafts, Autopower, Synchrotech Transmissions, Phase2Motortrend, J&B Farms, Kenclaire (West) Electrical, Cadet Blues the novel, Bay Ex, Eibach Springs, Sampson Racing Communications, Olson Auto Body, Honda Racing, and Tactical Ops Brewing.
After winning the national title, Krider was asked what was next on his horizon.
“The Napa Valley Coffin Races, of course,” he said. “We have to defend our title there. Next year, who knows? I’ve always wanted to try lawn mower racing.”
Visit www.team559.com for more about the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports team.