Kraus captures K&N West title at Phoenix
For Hub City Times
AVONDALE, AZ – Derek Kraus captured the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship in the season finale on Nov. 9 at ISM Raceway, driving the Bill McAnally Racing No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry to a fourth-place finish in the Arizona Lottery 100.
The 18-year-old NASCAR Next driver from Stratford secured the title by just taking the green flag. He wrapped up his season with a 49-point lead in the standings; the largest margin since the series adopted its current point system in 2012.
Kraus faced a big challenge in Saturday’s race, after his qualifying time was disallowed due to a technical issue in post-qualifying inspection, and he rolled off at 16th.
Kraus charged ahead at the drop of the green flag and was in the top 10 by Lap 8. He continued moving up and was in the top five by Lap 75.
With the championship clinched at the drop of the green, Kraus said his focus was going after the win.
“We struggled in practice,” he said. “We were really tight, but we were able to adjust on it a little bit and got it good for qualifying. We qualified sixth, then didn’t make it through tech after qualifying. So we had to start in the back.
“We made our way through the field and started fourth on the last restart,” he said. “I thought maybe something would happen between the front two, but it didn’t and we finished fourth. So we had a good solid run in the last race of the season.”
Kraus took a moment to reflect on his three years at BMR and winning the K&N West title.
“It means a lot to me to be the champion of this series,” he said. “It’s really exciting to me. Everyone at Bill McAnally Racing works their tails off on these race cars to get them as good as they are. I can’t thank the guys enough for being behind me.”
Kraus wrapped up his year with five wins, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 14 series starts. In addition, he also scored two wins earlier in the year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and led the standings in both divisions in the first half of the season.
Saturday’s race was second of two events over the weekend for Kraus, who was pulling double duty at ISM Raceway – also racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. He was sidelined early in that race on Friday night, after contact from another truck sent his No. 19 ENEOS Toyota Tundra into the wall.
The Arizona Lottery 100, which was won by Ty Gibbs, will be televised to a national audience on NBCSN on Nov. 14.