Napa’s Rob Krider left his own team, Krider Racing, and signed a one-year contract to drive for Double Nickel Nine Motorports this season — a decision he may be regretting.
By his standards, he has been struggling in the National Auto Sport Association Honda Challenge series. With four races completed, Krider and DNN Motorsports sit in second position in the championship points. For Krider, that just isn’t good enough.
“Without a doubt, this has been the hardest season of my racing career,” he said. “We just can’t catch a break.”
During the first race of season at the fastest road course in America, Willow Springs Raceway, the team’s Acura Integra was crashed in testing by another driver on the team. The crew did its best to get the car back together for the race and handed the wheel over to Krider to bring home a good finish.
“It was probably the most dangerous race I have ever been in. The car was awful and falling apart underneath me,” he said. “I’ve never been so happy to see a checkered flag wave before.”
Even against all odds, he somehow finished fourth overall, earning crucial points to keep the team alive in the championship.
Off the track, the team has run into numerous obstacles while building its two cars for the season.
“The original plan was to have two cars for the season, a hero car and a backup car,” Krider said. “The two-car plan has turned into me driving the backup car, and the hero car is currently just a box of parts sitting in the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports shop. It actually hasn’t been built yet.”
The team ran into supply delays and financial issues, delaying the creation of the car Krider was supposed to drive. Regardless of the team’s delays in getting the second car completed, the racing season doesn’t wait, and Krider has been doing his best to keep the team in contention by getting consistent finishes with the backup car.
During the fourth race of the season, at Buttonwillow Raceway, Rob found himself driving another car that was falling apart underneath him — this time from a first lap crash involving him and another Acura Integra.
“This is probably the most aggressive series I have ever raced in,” he said. “The Honda Challenge guys don’t give an inch on the track, and neither do I, which is why me and another driver found ourselves trying to occupy the same space in the first corner of the first lap.”
The crash resulted in a broken wheel to the left front of the DNN Motorsports Integra, which caused a slow air leak from the Toyo Tire. Krider kept driving the car anyway, finishing fourth with about 10 pounds of air in the tire on the final lap.
“I knew something was wrong with the car, but I figured I would just keep driving it until the race was over, the engine blew up, or I was upside down,” he said. “My job is to win races and earn points, not bring the car in every time there is something that doesn’t feel right.”
The team is still working on finding all the parts to finish the hero car, while at the same time fixing the backup car after numerous impacts with other racecars during the season.
“I haven’t crashed this much since the Napa Fair destruction derby,” Krider admitted, “and I haven’t driven in the dirt this much since we did the rallycross national championships.”
The team had to borrow an axle from one of Krider Racing’s old 24 Hours of LeMons Acura Integras to finish the last race after another off track excursion. They also borrowed a Honda computer from Nick Brown of Napa, who was kind enough to help the team out.
It seems that if it can go wrong for the team it has. Even the team’s racecar trailer broke an axle and had to be left in Southern California with the racecar in it before it could be fixed a week later. That delayed the team’s ability to work on the damaged racecar.
The good news for the team, as it prepares for the fifth and sixth rounds May 14-15 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, is that it has an enormous amount of support from some heavy hitters in the aftermarket performance parts world.
AEM has supplied a standalone engine management system to be run by a Chase Bays engine wiring harness. The team’s new engine was blue printed and hand built by Rich Olivier at Napa’s T.E.M. Machine shop. AJ Gracy at Performance In-Frame Tuning will tune the engine. Motion Control Suspension has supplied some high end dual adjustable coil over shocks to work in conjunction with Hardrace suspension pieces.
B&G Tires in Napa aligns the cars and mounts all of the team’s tires. Phase2Motortrend provided much needed parts and Autopower and I/O Port Racing Supplies have ensured that the cars are very safe with the latest in racing safety equipment. To tackle the reoccurring axle issues, Insane Shafts has built a special set of strong lightweight axles to work with the team’s Syncrotech transmission. All of this speed will be slowed down with Carbotech Brakes and RS 683 Performance Brake Fluid.
Sampson Racing Communications ensures that the crew chief can talk to Krider throughout each race and try to work through each problem as it arises. That is a good thing, since there have been a lot of problems so far and they seem to keep happening to the team.
“I told the guys at DNN Motorsports their team name should be Hardway Motorsports because everything here has gone the hard way,” Krider quipped.
Things aren’t all bent fenders and struggles for the team. After all, it is in second place in points.
“Even though it has been really tough, we are still having a lot of fun,” admitted Krider. “The season isn’t even at the halfway point. We are learning a lot at every event, and all of that knowledge will go into developing our hero car. When it’s done, look out. We are going to be a serious force in this series.”
The team is also sponsored by Tactical Ops Brewing, Economy Stockfeed, J&B Farms, and Rob’s novel, Cadet Blues.
“The team is hemorrhaging money this season. I either need to sell more copies of my book, sell a kidney, or find another sponsor,” Krider said. “Either way we will finish the season, even if I have to do it with only one kidney.”
Visit www.team559.com for more about the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports team.