Professional racer hopeful Dan Kraus is midway through the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship season. As the Official Amateur National Championship of CART, the 13-round series attracts racing talent from around the world, offering an...
Professional racer hopeful Dan Kraus is midway through the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship season. As the Official Amateur National Championship of CART, the 13-round series attracts racing talent from around the world, offering an intense competitive format that raises each driver's game. The 19-year old from Warwick, NY is one of twenty-one drivers pursuing the FORMULA DODGE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP BARBER-CART SCHOLARSHIP or the BARBER - CART BIG SCHOLARSHIP, two prizes that offer fully-funded seasons in the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series. Currently 11th in the 2001 championship, Kraus paused a moment for a Q&A session with the Skip Barber News.
1. Why did you choose to get involved with the Formula Dodge National Championship? How is your season going?
I chose to race in the Formula Dodge National Championship because of the intense competition, equality of the cars, the publicity and coaching. Also the tracks we race on, for the most part, are tracks that I'll continue to race on throughout my career.
Things are going well so far. The competition is definitely intense. Everybody out there is putting in 110%. The cars are pretty equal, but what I have found is that this series is too competitive to have an ill-handling car. So now, I've been focusing on knowing what the car is doing on-track and providing the appropriate feedback. The coaching is awesome. I listen to the instructors every time I come off track and respect their input. The tracks have been great. After Lime Rock Park in October, we head to Laguna Seca and Daytona, two huge names in racing.
2. What were your expectations or goals going in to the season? Have your goals changed?
My goal going into the season was to consistently place in top-5. My goal has since changed. Now my goal is to win. At this point in the season I can evaluate my driving at every race and feel confident going to any track and competing against the top FDNC competitors. But I know that in order to run up front, I need a good car. I cannot make a car faster than it is like Senna used to do and Schumacher does. Not yet, anyway! Earlier in the season I may have gone into a next race looking for a top five. Now I am looking for a win.
3. Your best finish to date was a second place at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Was that your season highlight?
That was a strong result but not my season highlight. Actually my season highlight so far was my fifth place at Putnam Park. I improved from fifteenth quickest in Friday morning's practice to take fifth on Sunday. So I was very happy about that. Other highlights have been going from 20th to eighth at Sebring in the season opener and qualifying fourth at IRP in Round 3.
5. You overcame some problems at Putnam Park to turn in a top-5 result. I believe Driver Coach Matt Plumb helped you out with your car set-up. Tell us about that^Å
Yeah, my car was sliding a lot. Which is tough to nail down as a handling problem with these cars because there is less grip than horsepower. After conveying to Matt Plumb what the car was doing on track, he went for a test-drive. We were able to diagnose a handling problem. I qualified and finished Saturday's race in 11th. After the race I was picking every test driver's brain about why my car was sliding. Matt Plumb test-drove my car again and after a lap or two came in and said he felt what I was talking about. He asked a mechanic to scale the car and check the ride heights. It turned out the ride height was off. Matt drove the car after the mechanic buttoned it up, and when he stepped out of the car he said, ^Óyou'll like that better.^Ô So on Sunday's race I started eighth and finished fifth. Matt was a vital part in my finishing in the top-5. I thank him a lot.
6. Do you have a special pre-race regiment?
My mental pre-race regiment consists of visualizing a good race that includes getting a good start, hitting my apexes and braking points, that kind of thing. My preparation also includes racing on the computer. I race a lot of F1 World Grand Prix and NASCAR 3. I have yet to master the Grand Prix Legends, which is an awesome game! I physically prepare for races with cardiovascular workouts and I run a lot!
7. Tell us about your sponsors and how you've pursued these opportunities.
As far as sponsors go, I have to thank people who aren't getting much in return yet except for my being so grateful for the opportunity to race. The Thorne family, my parents and my oldest brother have helped me the most. My brother just launched a company called SPONSORHOUSE (www.sponsorhouse.com). The website and service is being launched initially to the motocross industry and will be rolled out to all forms of racing and individual sports competition where sponsorship is utilized. Its goal is to connect young devoted athletes in motocross, car racing, karting, BMX racing, snowboarding, etc. with sponsors. I will help spread the word at the upcoming Lime Rock round. I encourage everyone to check it out!
8. How do you get on with your fellow competitors? Are you learning from them as well as from the coaching staff?
I get along great with the FDNC competitors. Everyone is racing because they love to race so we're all pretty much on the same page. And as far as the competitors go, I definitely listen to what drivers say about their cars, the track and even what gears they are using during the race. For the most part though, I drive my own race and ask questions of the instructors.
9. What are your plans for next year?
My plans for next year are in the process of being developed. They include driving a higher horse-powered car. I also am starting Orange County Community College in the fall. I will be taking classes in business and communications that will help me talk with potential sponsors.
10. Any plans to test a Reynard Dodge 98E car or attend a Barber Dodge Pro Series race?
I don't have any plans to test a Pro Series car as of now but it is definitely something I would consider. I went to the Pro Series race at Lime Rock this year. Driver Coach Peter Argetsinger was very helpful in showing my Dad and me all the data acquisition information and how everything is run in that department. It was a great weekend.