MORRISON, Colo. – When it comes to his home track, Deric Kramer isn’t afraid to dream big.
That’s why the Pro Stock standout’s high hopes at Bandimere Speedway, home to this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, include taking over Allen Johnson’s throne as the dominant Pro Stock racer on the mountain.
Johnson, who retired from the class following the 2017 season, had an incredible run at the track that included seven victories from 2007-2016. Like everyone, Kramer was in awe of that success, but he had his first accomplishment there a year ago, qualifying No. 1 for the first time in Denver. The next step is his first win at the scenic facility in his American Ethanol Novozymes Camaro to kick off the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ famed Western Swing.
“Ultimately, when Allen retired, my goal was to be the next ‘King of the Mountain,’ and I want to win there as much as he has and more,” said Kramer, who has three career Pro Stock wins. “You need lots and lots of runs (to have success in Denver), but I think that puts me in a good position. I think Allen being here, testing, developing motors up here, I think that helped him a lot. For me, I think being here and being able to make runs here will help a lot in the future. You have to get that feeling racing up here, and being able to drive as well as tune is definitely part of it.”
Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event. It is the eighth of 18 races during the NHRA Pro Stock season and Kramer has come on lately, winning in Chicago and qualifying No. 1 at the most recent Pro Stock race in Norwalk.
Following his breakout season a year ago, when Kramer won the first two races of his professional career and advanced to the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship for the first time, Kramer seems intent on making another positive step in 2019. He’s currently seventh in points, but Kramer believes he’s in a much better spot when it comes to competing for a title in the talent-filled class.
“I think the biggest thing we learned last year was how to transition from racing every week to racing across the season,” Kramer said. “We had raced primarily part-time seasons, and last year was the first time we were close to a full season. We went to every event like it was a brand new event, and we didn’t stretch out parts well enough to know that. We made mistakes and that affected us down the stretch. Knowing that now, I think it will help us.”
Kramer is confident he can start the NHRA’s famed Western Swing, which also includes stops in Sonoma and Seattle, on a good note in Denver, and racing close to home means a great deal for the Sterling, Colo. native. There will be plenty of top names to try to disrupt his fun in Denver, including points leader Bo Butner, defending winner Anderson, Norwalk winner Chris McGaha, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders, but being motivated won’t be a problem for Kramer this weekend.
“Our car has been running great,” Kramer said. “Being able to dominate all four sessions and then qualify No. 1 again would be ideal, and hopefully that’s the path we can go down. I started my racing career in Denver, all the way back when I was seven years old. It’s my home track and there’s definitely a lot of history there, and you always want to do well.”