Madison, Ill. — Victory tastes sweet. And so does redemption.
In the second of two combination races between the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West this season, Derek Kraus was able get the best of both those worlds in Friday night’s Monaco Gateway Classic presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame at Gateway Motorsports Park, as he wound up in Victory Lane.
Following finishes of 20th at Iowa and ninth at Evergreen, both where he ran out of fuel, the Stratford, Wisconsin, native was able to pull away late in the 120-lap event to earn his third K&N Pro Series win of the season and fourth of his career.
It was a win he called his biggest.
RACING-REFERENCE: Derek Kraus’ Career Statistics
“It was definitely a difficult night,” a relieved Kraus said. “About 15 laps into it, something with the spark plug went wrong, was really slow down the straightaways. We fell back, I don’t even know where we were, but we restarted the second stage in the back and drove up to third and caught the front two.”
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) August 25, 2018
It was clear that Kraus has the quickest car, but admitted he would get too tight behind another car when attempting to pass them. On the restart to begin the final stage, he knew it was now or never.
“I had to get it done right away,” Kraus said of his race-winning pass on Bill McAnally Racing teammate Cole Rouse. “That’s what I did and we ran away with it after that.”
— Derek Kraus (@derek9kraus) August 25, 2018
Rouse came home in second-place for the second consecutive race. After leading 35 laps before being passed by eventual winner Kraus on a restart, Rouse was attempting to stay positive following another bittersweet run.
“It was a good night from the start,” Rouse said. “We got five laps on the track before we went racing, didn’t qualify or anything. Came up through the field, finished second, it was an alright day. Just gotta thank the crew for putting a good piece together. I was surprised how good the car was. Just not as good as Derek. We were better than him at the second break, but I don’t know what they did at the end because they just drove away.”
Derek Thorn was able to build upon his K&N Pro Series West championship points lead with a third-place finish, extending his impressive streak of a top 10 finish in every race he’s competed in and his points lead to 25.
“We fell back far enough to where I was a little concerned,” Thorn admitted post-race. “But long run wise we had good speed. That last 40-lapper we were able to maintain track position and get back up to third.”
Crossing the finish line behind the three West drivers was Ruben Garcia Jr. The Mexico City native was the highest-finishing K&N Pro Series East driver in fourth. His Rev Racing teammate Chase Cabre led 19 laps around the midway point of the race and came home fifth.
RACING-REFERENCE: Monaco Gateway Classic Race Results
K&N Pro Series East championship points leader Tyler Ankrum rebounded from an up-and-down day to finish sixth and extend his points lead to 51 with two races remaining on the East schedule. Trevor Huddleston was the highest finishing K&N Pro Series West Rookie of the Year contender in seventh. Dillon Bassett, Anthony Alfredo and Ryan Partridge rounded out the top 10.
Both series will take some time off before returning to the track. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will head to dirt for the first time in almost four decades as the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track will host the Star Nursery 100 on Thursday, September 13. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 22.
The Monaco Gateway Classic from Gateway Motorsports Park will air on Thursday, August 30 at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.