Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.
Derek Thorn was both those things on Saturday night in the NAPA Auto Parts 175 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame at Evergreen Speedway, as he earned his second NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory of the season and seventh of his career.
But the No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Springs Ford wasn’t the class of the field. That honor belonged to pole sitter Derek Kraus, who led every circuit up until Lap 116, when he ran out of fuel and was forced to pit from the top spot. Kraus went on to finish ninth, three laps down.
“We were second best to the No. 16 (Kraus) most of the night,” Thorn said following the win. “He had one of those cars that he would put a straightaway on us in maybe 10 laps. He had a car that was a dominant one. But as often happens, the dominant car just runs into bad luck and tonight just wasn’t his night and we were there to capitalize on it.”
“I’ve been snake-bit here for the last six or seven years in the last dozen starts, and it was nice to finally be on the right side of the good luck this weekend.”
Cole Rouse was forced to start in the rear of the field after crashing his primary car in qualifying, but was consistently one of, if not the quickest car throughout the 175-lap event.
“It was definitely a tough day,” Rouse said following his best finish of the season. “We wrecked our primary car in qualifying, but we got the back-up out and the guys did a really good job. I didn’t expect to be that fast at all. We probably has the fastest car at the end, we were catching Thorn there just a little bit. It was a good day for a back-up car. We’re getting better each and every week. Coming from the back to finish second, that’s not too bad of a day.”
Thorn’s Sunrise Ford teammate Ryan Partridge came home third, but admitted that he never really had a shot at the victory.
“It’s one thing to finish third and be mixing it up and feel like you had a shot at the win,” Partridge said. “That’s not quite as disappointing as finishing third and … we didn’t even have a shot. We weren’t even close. Derek Kraus had the fastest car by a long shot. It is what it is, We’re going to take our car over to Gateway next and try to improve our program, make our stuff a little better.”
Kraus was visibly disappointed upon completion of the race. Despite his fourth top 10 finish of the season, anything short of a win was a failure for the No. 16 Bill McAnally Racing team.
“We had ’em covered, but we ran out of fuel,” Kraus said post-race. “We can’t take any momentum out of here because the finish was not what we wanted or what we for sure deserved. We’ll have to go get ’em at Gateway.”
Kody Vanderwal and Tyler Tanner rounded out the top five, with Cole Keatts, Hailie Deegan, Matt Levin, Kraus and Trevor Huddleston completing the top 10.
The win extends Thorn’s championship points lead by six to 18 over his Sunrise Ford teammate Partridge. Rouse is third, 34 points back, with Kraus fourth, 36 back.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will take one week off before heading to Gateway Motorsports Park for the Monaco Cocktails Gateway Classic presented by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on Friday, August 24, the second of two combination races between the K&N East and West Series.
The NAPA Auto Parts 175 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is scheduled to air Wednesday August 15 at 6 p.m. ET.