MORRISON, Colo. – A lot has changed since the last time Deric Kramer raced at his home track, Bandimere Speedway.
The Sterling, Colo., native picked up his first career Pro Stock win earlier during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and is now on the verge of earning his first career berth in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
All of it is a new feeling for Kramer heading into this weekend’s 39th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, but it is a welcome one as he prepares to race in front of family and friends in his American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro. The Pro Stock victory in Topeka earlier this season was a huge career accomplishment for Kramer, and he’s looking to have a career-best showing this weekend in Denver as well.
“It’s definitely going to be a cool feeling,” said Kramer, who is currently 10th in points. “There’s definitely a ton of people there and it’s fun for everyone to be there and enjoy it. There’s no other track like it and I think that’s the best part. Denver is unique. There’s nothing at that elevation. The track is literally carved out of a side of a mountain and you’re looking out across the city.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event. It is the 14th of 24 events in 2018 and racing at an altitude of more than 5,800 feet is a unique challenge of the event, but one Kramer is accustomed to after racing at Bandimere Speedway for years growing up.
He’ll take plenty of added confidence into the event thanks to his breakout season. Kramer has raced at 11 of the 13 races in 2018, and has two final rounds to show for it. He has 12 rounds wins in those 11 races, already six more than his first 65 career races, posting two No. 1 qualifiers along the way. The massive uptick in performance from the car has been exciting for Kramer, but the team has also had to work through an adjustment in expectations along the way.
“The few races prior to (the win) was just shooting ourselves in the foot and making mistakes,” Kramer said. “ We knew we had a good enough car and if I would do good enough behind the wheel we would have a chance to win rounds. That’s when we came out with the attitude of not trying to set the world on fire. We just wanted to go make good runs, and if we made good runs we would have a chance. Our motto became let’s just not screw up four times in a row on Sunday.”
Kramer is one of eight different Pro Stock winners in 2018, an impressive display of parity. It also means nothing come easy in the class and that’s fine with Kramer, who will have to deal with the likes of points leader Erica Enders, three-time 2018 winner Tanner Gray, and two-time season winners Vincent Nobile, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Chris McGaha. There’s also getting used to a busier schedule, but being familiar with Denver should help this weekend.
“In year’s past, our home opener was kind of Topeka,” Kramer said. “That was kind of the beginning of the season. We went to Pomona and Vegas and Phoenix, but for the most part, that was kind of our preseason testing, and our season really started for us in Topeka and then the Western Swing. We’re a bunch of races in at this point. We’ve easily finished our season that we would normally run. (But) the Western Swing is going to be a lot of fun.”