Thanks to some cold, hard cash from DENSO Spark Plugs and a few sets of slicks from Goodyear, the National Hot Rod Association made its factory hot rod division exciting again at this weekend’s prestigious U.S. Nationals, and no one in the class was more exciting — at least in the eyes of the NHRA’s announcing team and the fans — than Colorado’s Deric Kramer, who smoked his way to the Pro Stock burnout contest crown at the Lucas Oil Raceway.
Kramer, driving his American Ethanol-backed Dodge Dart, won two of the four contested rounds of the burnout contest during qualifying at Indy, and he did so not with distance, but with pure volume of tiresmoke, exciting huge applauses from the crowd on hand who had never witnessed such a spectacle from the normally reserved and calculated group of Pro Stock racers.
Kramer was declared the winner of both the fourth and fifth qualifying sessions on Sunday, while Shane Gray, whose antics at Brainerd, Minnesota a couple weeks ago served as the catalyst for the creation of the burnout contest, won the second session outright and was runner-up in sessions four and five. That left both drivers with 400 points, and with overall victories serving as the tie-breaker, Kramer was given the nod and the $5,000 prize that went along with winning what drag racing historian Bret Kepner confirmed was the first NHRA-sanctioned burnout contest since the 1981 Cajun Nationals.
Both Gray and Kramer offered differing approaches to the contest: Gray wowed the crowd with the long-ball, while Kramer instead set the line-lock, brought the engine up to RPM and let it rip for nearly 20 seconds before boiling the hides out beyond the christmas tree, leaving a large plume of smoke behind the starting line.
“I just tried to see how far we could carry it out there; I wasn’t too interested in just sitting there,” Gray told NHRA.com. “The burnout contest should be whoever can do a burnout the furthest.”
Kramer countered, “If I could see through all the smoke I was making I could have tried to drive it a little further.”