Derek Kraus needed only to start the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (NKNPSW) race at ISM Raceway to be declared the series champion on Saturday evening. When the green flag waved, it was official, and the 18-year-old Camry driver became the fourth Toyota driver to capture a NKNPSW driver’s title.
“I’ve had great opportunities like coming to Bill McAnally Racing,” said Kraus. “They tested me when I was 15 years old, took a chance on me and here we are the third year and got the championship. I just can’t thank every single one of these guys that work on this race car. They worked their tails off on this thing.”
After leading flag to flag at his best track, Kern County Raceway Park, in the penultimate event of the season, Kraus took a 47-point lead into the season finale in Avondale, Arizona. The Bill McAnally Racing driver went on to finish fourth in the season finale, ending a banner year marked by a career-best five wins and an average finish of 4.1.
“What a season for Derek and Bill McAnally Racing,” said Paul Doleshal, group manager of motorsports and asset management for Toyota Motor North America (TMNA). “Derek certainly made a statement this year with multiple victories and now the series title. We’re proud to add him to the list of Toyota champions and look forward to watching him as he continues to succeed on and off the race track.”
Kraus joins Eric Holmes (2008, 2010), Chris Eggleston (2015) and Todd Gilliland (2016, 2017) as the fourth Toyota NKNPSW champion with Toyota now claiming 12 NASCAR K&N Pro Series championships across both regional series.
He also becomes the fourth Toyota driver to capture a driver’s championship this season, along with CJ Greaves (Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League Pro 4), Christian Eckes (ARCA Menards Series) and Jesse Colwell (POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series).