Napa’s Rob Krider took first-place honors in the Honda Challenge 4 class at the 2018 National Auto Sport Association National Championships at the Circuit of the Americas race track in Austin, Texas.
“We didn’t just want to win at the nationals,” said Napa City Councilman Jim Krider, Rob’s father. “We wanted to dominate, and that’s what we did.”
Rob Krider, driving the No. 38 Acura Integra for Double Nickel Nine Motorsports, won every qualifying session and qualifying race and led flag to flag in the championship finale last Sunday.
“These guys had nothing for him,” said his brother, Randy Krider, the chief spotter on the radio for the No. 38 car. “I told Rob for the final race just to take it easy and manage the tires for the long race. He was calm on the radio and cruised to a national championship win.”
Rob said the race wasn’t your typical Sunday cruise, however.
“Yeah, we made it look easy in Texas, but what people don’t see behind the scenes is the amount of hard work it took to be prepared like we were when we came off the trailer here at the Circuit of the Americas,” he said. “The guys at DNN Motorsports won this race a week ago back at the shop when they rebuilt this car to perfection.”
Krider had burned the No. 38 car to the ground in his previous race, and the team had only six weeks to completely rebuild the car, test it, and tow it to Texas for the big race.
He said it would have never happened had the team not been sponsored by TEM Machine Shop, B & G Tires, Performance In-Frame Tuning, Bay Ex, Tactical Ops Brewing, Let’s Go Racing, Chandler Autosport, Eibach Springs, Motion Control Suspension, I/O Port Racing Supplies, Autopower, Speed Factory Racing, Racepak, ESS Fire Systems, J & B Farms, Economy Stock Feed, Cadet Blues the novel, Insane Shafts, Kenclaire Electrical, Sanger Tire, Hardrace, Hasport Motor Mounts, Unorthodox Racing, Smart Strings, Synchrotech Transmissions, Devsport, Carbotech Brakes, Olson Auto Body, AEM Electronics, RS 683 Brake Fluid, Sampson Racing Communications, Phase 2 Motortrend, HA Motorsports, and C.J. Fix Bookkeeping.
The victory was a special one for DNN Motorsports crew chief Stephen Young.
“I’ve been through a lot with this team, running races all over the country with Rob and Krider Racing, but this victory is the sweetest,” Young said. “We smashed the best teams in the country and we did it by a lot.
“Nobody was even near Rob Krider during the qualifying races, and he was on the pole by over one second. When he was on track he actually beat cars that were in faster classes. We left no doubt about who is the National Champion.”
Rich Olivier watched the races on the live feed in Napa with his employees at TEM Machine Shop. They had a special interest in the No. 38 car finishing first because they were the ones that built the new engine for the car just weeks before the big race.
“We have a lot of confidence in Rob being fast on track,” said Olivier. “It’s fun to see your blood, sweat and hard work ripping around a track like the Circuit of the Americas. Our shop gave Rob exactly the engine he needed to bring that national championship trophy back to Napa. We couldn’t be prouder.”
The win was big for the team and since everything in Texas is big, Krider earned a big first-place cowboy hat from Toyo Tires, along with a big check, a belt buckle from NASA, a national championship checkered flag, and a huge trophy to bring home for the collection.
“I love the hat,” Krider said. “When Lewis Hamilton won the first-ever Formula 1 Grand Prix race here at the Circuit of the Americas, they gave him a black cowboy hat. Now I have one, too.”
On the podium, while spraying champagne on his fellow competitors and the crowd, Krider filled his cowboy hat with champagne and drank from it.
“Man,” he said, “that tastes so good.”
The team had a lot to celebrate. Placing second in the race was DNN’s No. 33 car, driven by Keith Kramer. He started from fifth position and fought his way to the runner-up spot on the last lap at the last corner.
“What a race,” Kramer said. “To finish 1-2 on the podium at the biggest track in our country during the biggest race of the year, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
There was a lot of pressure on the team to do well. SpeedNews magazine had picked Krider to win the race, sponsors had poured lots of money and products on the team to do well, and 32 crew and family members drove or flew out from all over the country to Texas for the big show.
Besides all of that pressure, the starts of each race were standing starts using the Formula 1 starting lights. Any mistake at the start while on the pole and the entire field would run into the back of the 38 car.
“I was feeling the pressure a bit. I just didn’t want to let all of these people down,” Krider admitted. “But I knew we had a good car, a good engine, a great crew, so I just didn’t let outside distractions get to me. I just put my visor down, listened to what my brother told me to do over the radio, and drove the car like an egotistical maniac who knew nobody in the country could beat him.
“Yes, that may sound a bit conceited, but confidence wins car races. We brought that confidence to Texas and it paid off.”
Growing up in Napa, Rob spent every Wednesday night drag racing at Sonoma Raceway – which was called Sears Point back then – while he was attending Vintage High School. He said all of those drag race starts helped prepare him for the Formula 1 standing start at the Circuit of the Americas. When the lights turned off, Krider was the first one off the line each time.
“Rob had those starts down perfectly,” Jim Krider said. “As the field headed into Turn 1, Rob was already ahead by three car lengths. His reaction times were fantastic.”
Rob Krider saw the standing-start format as an advantage for his team.
“There was some controversy during the driver’s meeting about doing the standing starts. Some drivers were worried it would be too hard on the cars,” he explained. “I was all for it. I knew our car was built for the abuse and I knew I could get off the line before anyone else. My vote was, let’s do it.”
This championship capped a three-year win streak in the Honda Challenge series for Krider, who also won the 2016 Western States Championship at Buttonwillow and the 2017 Western States Championship at Thunderhill.
Double Nickel Nine Motorsports wants to see him stay on as a driver but his wife of 22 years, Sara Krider, wants to see him retire from racing.
“He’s done enough,” she said. “He has nothing left to prove. He’s the national champion. He should retire while he’s on top.”
Rob isn’t quite ready to make that commitment.
“Well, there are still a few races out there I want to win,” he said. “I still haven’t competed in lawn mower racing or the Indy 500.”
Krider will give a presentation about winning, how he created his racing team, and his book “Cadet Blues” at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Napa County Library, 580 Coombs St., Napa.
To get updates on the racing team go to team559.com or follow KriderRacing on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.