Deric Kramer has almost two decades of experience racing at his home track, Bandimere Speedway, the site of weekend’s 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, starting in Jr. Dragsters and including his Pro Stock debut in 2012.
Despite all those passes on the mountain, racing in the unique conditions at Bandimere Speedway doesn’t get any easier for Kramer, who will make his sixth appearance of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season this weekend. Looking for his first round win of the year in his American Ethanol Dodge Dart, the Sterling, Colo., native knows challenges await in Denver.
“Racing (at Bandimere) in Pro Stock is definitely a whole new animal,” Kramer said. “The clutch setup is so different and there’s just so many things about this race that is different. There’s no other track like this, and the view, the fans and the location, it’s just really amazing. Even with the challenges, we like racing at home. It’s something we always look forward to and it’s a lot of fun.”
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX, including live final eliminations on FOX at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 23. It is the 14th of 24 events in 2017 and also the first of three races on the famed NHRA Western Swing.
It will be a busy weekend for Kramer, who is also racing in Stock and will have Richie Stevens Jr., who is married to two-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders, driving a second American Ethanol Dodge Dart in Denver. But perhaps the biggest priority is finding some success in his own car. He has qualified for every race he’s attended this season, but after winning a career-best three rounds a year ago, Kramer is still looking to take that next step in 2017.
“I think we’ve made some decent runs, but these other teams are showing a lot more consistency this year so it’s been hard,” Kramer said. “We’re making good progress, but it obviously doesn’t show in the results. It’s super tough. It really takes an iron will and we want to keep going and keep getting better. We can’t get better if I’m not out there racing. When I race I don’t go there to go out in the first round, but that’s where we’re sitting right now. Hopefully we can change that.”
Doing it close to home would make for a thrilling weekend and having Stevens in a second car should help. But he’ll also have to deal with defending event winner Johnson, who has seven wins and 10 straight final round appearances at Denver, as well as points leader Bo Butner and the rest of the talented Pro Stock class. Kramer has seen the rigors of that this season, but he knows there’s room for improvement on his end. Racing in Denver and again next week in Sonoma will give Kramer an opportunity to show it and he’s aware of what must get better on his end.
“I want to see consistent starts for me,” Kramer said. “I’m trying so many things, my lights haven’t been consistent, so I would like consistent starts and obviously a handful of round wins. Whatever we can do to get that, that’s the goal the next few races. We’re trying to put our time to good use. It’s no secret we’re struggling right now, but I want to see us racing to the best of our potential.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 21, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 22, at 4 and 6:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 23.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-664-UWIN (8946) or 303-697-6001. Tickets also are available online at www.bandimere.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.