Kraus Dominates In K&N West Win At Kern

Derek Kraus has become a dominant force when it comes to NASCAR K&N Pro Series West competition at Kern County Raceway Park.


The 17-year-old from Stratford, Wisconsin wheeled the Bill McAnally Racing No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry to Victory Lane at the high-banked, half-mile track for the third consecutive time – winning the NAPA AUTO PARTS 175 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on Saturday, as the series closed out its 2018 season.


It was a season-leading fourth win this year for Kraus, and marked his fifth career series victory.


His BMR teammate, Hailie Deegan, finished the season off strong, as well – winning her second pole award in the No. 19 Mobil 1/NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry and capturing the Rookie of the Year title. She was in contention throughout the race, but ended up sixth after contact from another car in the final laps.


Their teammate, Cole Rouse, ran strong early in the event in the No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota Camry – then battled back from a couple of unscheduled pit stops to finish seventh.


Kraus, who started second on the grid, charged out front early – as BMR’s trio of drivers ran 1-2-3 in the early laps. He went on to pace nearly all of Saturday’s 175-lap event. He had stretched out a lead of about 7 seconds late in the race, when a caution set up a dash to the finish. He regained command on the restart and pulled away to win by a margin of 1.496 seconds.


“Our NAPA Toyota was really good,” Kraus said. “It had really good drive off the corners and fired off on the restarts really well, too.”


That performance gave him confidence on the final restart, he said.


“I knew there was probably going to be a caution. There always is,” he said. “But I knew we had a good car in the short runs and long runs. I was confident it would be there for me going into Turn 1.”


In comparing this win with his previous victories at KCRP, Kraus said this one is special.


“It was good to get this one, because of how dominant we were,” he said. “It showed how good the car was.”


It’s also a good way to wrap up the year, Kraus added.


“It’s great to get the last win of the season and go into the off season with a lot of confidence and momentum,” he said.


BMR’s three drivers finished third, fourth, and fifth in the championship standings for the year.


Rouse finished in third, just two points out of second. The 21-year-old from Fort Smith, Arkansas had one win, one pole, seven top-five, and 13 top-10 finishes in 14 starts this season.


Kraus finished fourth in the standings. He led the series this season in terms of wins, with four, and poles, with five. He also led the most laps of competition. He registered eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes this season.


Deegan topped the rookie points and finished fifth in the overall series standings. The 17-year-old driver from Temecula, California had one win, two poles, five top-five, and 12 top-10 finishes. She made history earlier this season in becoming the first female driver to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race and the first woman to win a pole award in the series.


Deegan’s the third straight BMR driver to win the rookie title – following Todd Gilliland in 2016 and Kraus in 2017.


Kraus and Deegan are both members of the NASCAR Next program that spotlights NASCAR’s emerging stars.


The Kern event caps off another strong season by BMR’s drivers. They won six races and garnered eight pole awards, including poles in the final four consecutive races. The win by Kraus on Saturday marked the fifth consecutive Kern race won by the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry.


NAPA AUTO PARTS  was well represented at KCRP, with NAPA guests in attendance. A VIP experience provided by BMR included a special pit tour and the opportunity to attend the drivers meeting. Guests were also treated to VIP Hospitality and viewing from a VIP Suite.


The NAPA AUTO PARTS 175 from Kern is slated to be televised on NBCSN on Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. PT.