Deric Kramer and his American Ethanol team are currently in the midst of their second-straight NHRA Pro Stock Countdown to the Championship campaign. Last week, we spoke with Kramer about his blossoming racing career and all that goes into trying to win a Pro Stock championship:
“Last year we made a deal with KB Racing to start supplying power for our team, and they have some of the top contenders in the series,” Kramer explained. “That was huge for us because it proved we can make runs with the best of them. This year, the key has been building off that and just doing things consistently.”
Pro Stock drivers were faced with a shortened schedule this season compared to last year, which presented a unique challenge for the American Ethanol team.
“I feel that we did pretty well this season,” Kramer said. “With the reduced schedule there were less opportunities to win, so it puts a little pressure on you to get one. The first few races were the most frustrating part of the season. We had a couple first-round exits, a lot of which were self-inflicted. Bo Butner was on a tear at the beginning of the year and it seemed like he was winning every event, but we got a No. 1 qualifier and a win toward the middle of the season so that proved we still had it which helped our confidence a lot. We also had a long stretch late in the season of making it to at least the semifinal round at multiple events in a row which meant more runs and opportunities in the car heading into the Countdown to the Championship. You get a lot more data and a lot more info that way which is really important going into the postseason.”
Kramer also talked about how he and his team spent the regular season laying the groundwork for a run at the championship:
“One of the things we worked on this year was making sure we had enough parts to finish the season strong, and we wanted to test ourselves to make sure we were ready for a deep postseason run. For example, we made sure to have some runs on tires that had been pretty well broken in, and some runs on brand new tires just to see how the car responded and make sure to note all of that so we’d be ready for unexpected situations in this final stretch here. At this level it’s all about the little details, so my crew chief Mike Hiner, my team, and I wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to set ourselves up for success.
“Overall, I feel good about where we’re at. NHRA is a ‘right time, right place’ sport, and we know we can match up against pretty much any of the cars out there, so we definitely plan to be in the hunt for the entire countdown.”
Kramer closed by describing his feelings about representing American Ethanol out on the racetrack.
“Driving for American Ethanol has honestly been one of the best breaks of not only my career but my life. My family got into the ethanol business right around when I went off to college and being able to be a spokesperson and correct a lot of the misconceptions out there has been one of the coolest parts of my career. As I said, my family is involved in the industry, and they’re also heavily involved in my race team. My dad helps with the maintenance on the motor and things like that in between rounds. My girlfriend works on the back half of the car on everything from tires and shocks to packing the parachute, and my sister has also gotten involved pitching in wherever we need. So, it’s all been a really cool experience for me. I just want to thank all of our supporters from the industry, we love seeing you guys at the track cheering us on – it really makes a difference.”
Kramer and the American Ethanol team didn’t get the result they were looking for in last weekend’s Pro Stock showdown in St. Louis, as a slower-than-normal start off the line in the first elimination round kept the team from advancing. However, there was certainly a bright spot last weekend, as Deric’s father and Growth Energy member Dave Kramer earned a win in the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown which buoyed the entire team. Kramer posted about the result on his Facebook page after the race:
“[We] went low of the round in R1 but just caught a little bit of bad luck when we left the line a little later than we usually do in our American Ethanol Camaro,” Deric said. “Major bummer, but dad winning the Factory Stock Showdown makes up for it, for sure. St. Louis is in the rear-view mirror and all sights are set on Charlotte.”
The NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals kick off on October 11, so head over to the NHRA website to check out the schedule.
Last weekend, Austin Dillon earned a 23rd-place finish at a modified version of his hometown track – Charlotte Motor Speedway. Drivers squared off for the Bank of America Roval 400, with “Roval” referencing the track’s unique part road course, part oval layout. Dillon and the No. 3 team were running solidly in the race on Sunday, seemingly overcoming their road course demons, but a late-race incident knocked them back in the field.
“We invested a lot of time and effort preparing for this race, including simulator time right down to Friday night after qualifying,” Dillon said. “Even though we qualified far back in the field, we had confidence that we could race our way to a decent finish. My crew chief Danny Stockman and the whole team did a great job utilizing pit strategy to get the Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet as high as the top five in the running order. We were looking solid but, with less than 20 laps to go, the No. 17 car was on the outside of me and we tried to make it two-wide. He ended up hitting the wall and me. We pitted for tires and repairs to the left rear crush panel, which relegated us to the back of the field and made it difficult to get positions back. Our right-front fender was flared out so I had to draft the best I could around the banking at the end of the race. We have a lot of work to do on these road courses but we’re not going to give up.”
Austin Dillon and the No. 3 team will hit the “Monster Mile” at Dover International Speedway this weekend for the Drydene 400. Dillon had his best-career finish of seventh at Dover last October, so he will bring what he learned a year ago to the track in an attempt to secure another top 10 finish.
“There’s a lot of aero stuff that comes into play at Dover because you’re going so fast,” Dillon explained. “You see different lines come into play as the rubber builds up. On the long run you can start running way up by the fence and find some speed so that’s always fun when you can move around and find speed on the long run and people fall of as you run. It’s a good place to go.”
Dillon will have the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevy Camaro back in action on Sunday, October 13 with a special-edition paint scheme to honor Richard Childress Racing’s 50th anniversary, so stay tuned for more on that!
The Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway will be televised live on Sunday, October 6 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time on NBC Sports Network. It will also be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The American Ethanol Late Model Tour (AELMT) was bitten by the bad weather bug again last weekend, as heavy rains and thunderstorms throughout the weekend made it impossible to hold the Hoosier Autumn Classic as-scheduled. It was an unfortunate break, as fans missed the opportunity to witness some unique race formats and rules that the tour had planned to implement at the Plymouth Speedway event.
The next race for the AELMT is also the final event of the 2019 season and will be held at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich. on October 12. Stay tuned for more details and a preview of the event in next weekend’s American Ethanol update.