Ron Krisher making a name at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - At the beginning of the 2000 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season Las Vegas odds-makers would have listed Ron Krisher as a longshot to win an NHRA Pro Stock race. When the sports books post the odds for the upcoming inaugural ...

LAS VEGAS - At the beginning of the 2000 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season Las Vegas odds-makers would have listed Ron Krisher as a longshot to win an NHRA Pro Stock race.

When the sports books post the odds for the upcoming inaugural NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 6-9, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, chances are that Krisher will be among those expected to win the $1.8 million race, the fourth of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

That's because Krisher is making a major statement in the 200-mph category. The Warren, Ohio racer has posted semifinal appearances in races at Phoenix and Gainesville, Fla. A respectable showing after his team had to hustle to recover from a spectacular crash in the first round of eliminations at the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif.

It took Krisher's team about 20 days to pick up the pieces and put together a new Eagle One Pontiac Firebird. Surprisingly, the new Jerry Bickle-built machine seems to be even better than the one that got crumpled at Pomona Raceway.

"We're still breaking in the new car, but somehow we're winning rounds," Krisher said. "I loved the car I wrecked. The new car is totally different, but it's proving it'll be a good one. We've only got about 20 runs on it so far. Only time will tell how good it can be."

Despite the early season adversity, Krisher stands a career-best third overall in the Winston point standings entering the event, several points behind leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. and the category's most recent winner, defending series champ Warren Johnson. Not too bad for a 52-year-old drag racing journeyman who finished 18th in the final points order last year. Krisher's 2000 season surge is due to significant changes to his racing program. He purchased his own engine development company in order to have more control over horsepower issues. He also hired a new crew chief -- one of the most talented race car gurus in Pro Stock - Mike Edwards.

"We've made great strides with the motor program," Krisher said. "Every motor that comes out of our shop is just a little better than the one before it. That's a credit to Mike and the guys on the team. They've been working around the clock to make sure we're competitive."

Krisher's boiling point came last season when his race team struggled throughout the year. His two best showings - at Brainerd, Minn. and Topeka, Kan. - ended with second round losses. He posted eight first round losses and 11 DNQs. He knew if he wanted to remain in the sport, he needed to reevaluate his commitment to winning.

"Basically I know I'm not getting any younger," Krisher said. "In time your reactions begin to slow down and you have to alter your setup and approach to racing. I started this to be competitive and to at least finish in the top 10 and win some races. I decided to put everything into my racing operation and see what I can accomplish."

His competitors have taken notice. However, he hasn't been doing any talking. He's still the same quiet, reserved guy he was when he finished 18th in points and failed to qualify for the 1999 Gatornationals. He's letting his performance on the track speak for itself.

"When you're running faster, you don't have to tell anyone, they see it," Krisher said. "I enjoy going to the starting line and having the guy in the other lane worried that I can beat him. That's a great feeling. To know that you had the power to go out and kick somebody's butt is what this sport is all about. That's when you know all the hard work and effort has finally paid off."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher , Mike Edwards