Deric Kramer didn't blaze into the 2023 rendition of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, but by race four of 18 on the Pro Stock schedule, he and his Michael Hiner-tuned GetBioFuel.com Chevrolet Camaro were showing up and showing out. Kramer's emergence as a championship contender has been shadowed, somewhat, by the more outward performances of others, but his subtle and steady approach could be the upset story of the year when the Countdown to the Championship arrives.
"I don't think we're a dark horse, I think we're going through a case of screwing up less than everybody else," said Kramer, a five-time winner in the extremely competitive class of naturally aspirated factory hot rods. "I don't think we're hitting the numbers that we expect to hit, we just happen to be faster than everybody else currently."
Kramer reached the four-wide final round in Las Vegas, followed up with a win in Charlotte, and has advanced to the final in both of the most recent two events. The only Pro Stock competitor to have reached more final rounds this season is Dallas Glenn, Kramer's KB Titan Racing teammate. Glenn, with three wins in four final rounds, has led the points since the Pomona Winternationals.
In each of the last three seasons, Kramer finished No. 10 in the points. Currently, he sits No. 2, a pleasingly elevated position he has held before, though only briefly at the beginning of the 2018 season.
The improved results this season are the result of simple learning, Kramer explained.
"We've solved a lot of problems that we seem to have had," he said. "When we first started the KB Titan relationship back in 2018 [then known as KB Racing], Jason Line was doing all the engine stuff. We had some pretty good success with that, and when Jason retired, we started doing it ourselves – but we also got a new car. In the midst of all of the change, we were struggling. We had problems we didn't know we had; we weren't adept enough to know. But because we solved those issues toward the end of last year, we were able to make a lot of strides that put us in the situation we're in right now."
As Kramer was making progress, Glenn was getting a lot of attention in the early part of the season. However, it was reigning champion Erica Enders who grabbed the spotlight in Bristol two weeks ago with a sudden resurgence after a fairly dismal start to the year. Entering the Thunder Valley Nationals, she had won just two rounds of racing, but at Bristol Dragway Enders was the No. 1 qualifier and went on to win the race.
Kramer, though, takes little notice of what's happening under anyone else's awning – or even in the other lane. He's simply focused on doing his job and keeping sight of the goal: winning his first Pro Stock championship. The higher Kramer is when the Countdown to the Championship points are reset this fall, the better chance he'll have to win it all.
"I don't really look at the person next to me very often," he admitted. "In Pro Stock [unlike Sportsman categories], you have the luxury of just racing your lane and doing your job on the tree. We come out here every weekend with the same intention. We have the capability to win every race we attend, and we show up with that mindset.
"I really wish the Countdown to the Championship started today and that the points could be reset now, but unfortunately, that's not how it works. We have a handful of races before then, but that just means we have to keep our foot on the gas and stay in that No. 2 spot until then."