A fifth-place finish by Derek Kraus behind the wheel of the McAnally-Hilgemann Racing No. 19 ENEOS / NAPA Toyota Tundra on Friday – in the first race of a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series doubleheader at Kansas Speedway – moved him into the top 10 of the championship standings.
The 18-year-old driver, who missed his high school graduation to race at Kansas, will return to competition on Saturday in the second race of the weekend for the series.
Kraus had a fast Tundra and demonstrated its strength in charging toward the front on several different occasions in Friday’s race. After starting 15th, he quickly made his way into the top 10 within two laps and finished the first stage in sixth on Lap 30.
Although he got shuffled back to 19th as the field cycled through pit stops, Kraus wasted no time battling his way back to the front. After finishing fifth in the second stage at Lap 60, he went to work, again, after restarting 10th. Shortly after moving into fifth by Lap 80, he pitted with the rest of the field under caution.
Kraus restarted in 13th and began another charge to the front – moving into the top 10 by Lap 90 and seventh by Lap 100. He was up to sixth by Lap 120 and charged into fifth on Lap 126 of the 134-lap event.
It marked his second top-five finish of the season. He opened the year with a best-career finish of fourth at Daytona International Speedway.
With his finish on Friday, Kraus moved to 10th in points – as the battle continues for a top-10 position and a spot in the playoffs.
Saturday’s truck series race at Kansas Speedway, slated for 1:30 p.m. ET, will be televised live on FS1.
Derek Kraus – Thoughts about Kansas
You were up front all night, and earned stage points in both stages and scored your second top-five finish of the season. Talk about the solid run.
“Yeah, our ENEOS Toyota Tundra was really fast tonight. I felt like right from the drop of the green flag we had a good Tundra. We were able to drive from 15th to seventh/eighth at the end of that first stage. Then, we fell back a little bit on the pit stop and then made our way back up and finished fifth at the end of the night. I feel like that was a really good run and a really good way to start off the weekend.”
This was your high school Graduation Night. What did it mean to you to have such a strong finish tonight/
“I feel like tonight we had a really good run, and it was a special night, for me. It was graduation. I got my diploma from my principal back in Strafford, Wisconsin. I really can’t thank them guys enough. They let me chase my dreams of racing, and they let me miss as much school as I needed to, to chase my dreams. I just can’t thank them enough, and tonight was a really good night to have a good finish.”
With this run, you are back inside the top 10 in the overall standings. What do you need to continue to do to maintain that Playoff spot?
“We just need to have good runs. Tonight was a really good run. We had a really good start to the weekend, as we have that race tomorrow. I feel like we just have to have consistently good runs, finish inside the top 10 every week. If we do that, and do our jobs, we will be in the top 10 I feel like.”