Derek Kraus notched a runner-up finish in his second straight race, finishing second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday.
Kraus, trying to repeat his win last year in the Monaco Cocktails 125 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame at the St. Louis-area track, drove the Bill McAnally Racing No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry up to second on the final lap of the event – which ended with a green-white-checkered finish after being shortened to 98 laps due to time.
His BMR teammate, Hailie Deegan, finished ninth in the No. 19 Monster Energy/NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry. The early checkered flag cut short her effort to battle back from a flat tire, which followed contact between her and Kraus while fighting for fourth.
The race ended early for BMR’s Brittney Zamora in the No. 99 NAPA Belts & Hoses/ENEOS Toyota Camry, after she dropped out with mechanical trouble on Lap 27 and finished 16th.
Kraus, who started 12th on the grid, faced a challenge in gaining ground on the leaders – as the pace was slowed by multiple cautions in the first half of the race.
“We had our NAPA Toyota set up for a long run,” said the 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver from Stratford, Wisconsin. “The cautions didn’t help us at all. It bunched us up, but didn’t really help. We just had to manage our position and stay as close to the front as possible, because track position was big.”
“We just needed a long run and got it in the end a little bit,” said Kraus, who had a runner-up finish a week ago at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington. “That last restart, we had a really good restart and finished second. It was a good race and a really good points day.”
Deegan, who started 10th, steadily worked her way toward the front of the pack. She was up to fifth by Lap 25 and made her way to third by Lap 76. As drivers in third through fifth shuffled positions, she and Kraus came in contact a few laps later while battling side-by-side in Turn 2. Deegan slowed with a flat left rear tire and headed to the pits. Although she lost a lap, she began to quickly rebound and got back on the lead lap on the final caution.
With his runner-up finish, Kraus extended his lead in the championship standings to 29 points. He has three wins, seven top-five, and nine top-10 finishes in 10 K&N West starts this season.
Despite finishing ninth, Deegan still moved up to second in the standings. The 18-year-old from Temecula, California has two wins, five top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 10 series starts.
Kraus and Deegan are both members of the NASCAR Next program that spotlights NASCAR’s emerging stars.
Zamora – a 20-year-old from Kennewick, Washington – remains second in rookie points and fifth in the overall series standings. She has five top-five and six top-10 finishes in 10 starts.
At the track on Saturday, NAPA AUTO PARTS had activation and support through the NAPA Distribution Center in Mt. Vernon, Ill., and a large contingent from McKay Auto Group. They received VIP treatment that included a visit to the NASCAR technical inspection area, an inside view of the BMR NAPA transporter, and a walk through the paddock of the NTT IndyCar Series.
The combination race from Gateway, won by Spencer Davis, will be televised to a national audience on NBCSN on Aug. 29 at 3 p.m. PT.
The next event on the K&N West schedule will be at Idaho’s Meridian Speedway on Sept. 28.
Bill McAnally Racing PR