DACONO, Colo. – A freshly repaved surface in the Rocky Mountain state lent itself to some of the best racing the NASCAR K&N Pro Series has seen this past weekend.
The series’ most popular driver roughed up her teammate for the win, multiple drivers left feeling a bit sour and a few underdogs were able to garner a dose of the spotlight.
Here is everything we learned from the Colorado NAPA 150 at Colorado National Speedway.
Deegan Dumps Derek, Delivers in Dacono
Whether you like the move or not, you can’t argue with the result for Hailie Deegan on Saturday night.
She left Colorado with a trophy, her second of 2019 and third overall in the K&N Pro Series. And the fans left CNS witnessing an instant classic with a dramatic finish in overtime.
What everyone is talking about today:
That wild finish in Colorado last night?!!!
– NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 9, 2019
"All of a sudden, I saw an opening on the bottom," Deegan said. "And I was like ‘If he’s (Derek Kraus) going to door me like that, I’m going all or nothing.’ I dove to the bottom, he left it a little bit open. I dove in there, in the end, he took the first swing, I took the last one. A win is a win and people will do anything for wins."
She’s lived that moniker in all her wins, making contact with teammate Cole Rouse in Meridian last season and nudging Jagger Jones in Las Vegas to open up the 2019 season.
It must be something about the white flag lap and Deegan.
Whatever it may be, it’s been working. But Saturday’s 150-lapper around the 0.375-mile was far from easy. The box score may show her leading the most laps (66) on the evening, but lapped traffic, impending weather and a couple late race restarts made it tough.
"I thought it was over there for a second," she said of the late stages. "No regrets during that race. I would’ve regretted it if I wrecked us both, for sure. I saw an opening, kind of two-wheeled the concrete right there, so the opening was small, but I had to take it. He ran me really hard on that restart."
It’s been an uncharacteristic past few weeks results wise for Deegan. Working with new crew chief Kyle Wolosek, a pair of twin 100 weekends in South Boston, Virginia, and Tucson, Arizona, saw them struggle off the truck and wind up running mid-pack.
The bright spot was a third-place finish at Tucson, but lows included a 12th in SoBo and 15th in Arizona.
Deegan and the No. 19 team feel as if Colorado marked the turning point, putting the bad luck and slower runs behind them.
Love these guys https://t.co/4EQxgK5dDa
— Hailie Deegan (@HailieDeegan) June 9, 2019
"We showed we’re the hardest racers out here," she said. "I’m done taking everyone’s crap for everything. If you’re going to run me hard, I’m going to run you hard. That’s exactly how it’s going to be, and clearly everybody’s going to run me hard so I’m going to run them hard."
Bent Fenders, Hurt Feelings
Much like what we saw a couple weeks back in Memphis for the K&N Pro Series East, a victor emerged jubilant, while others left frustrated. That’s racing.
Kraus bared the brunt of it, falling a few yards short of his third win of the K&N West season. He didn’t have much to say following the finish, either.
— Derek Kraus (@derek9kraus) June 9, 2019
After running second for most of the evening, Sunrise Ford’s Jagger Jones wound up crossing the finish line backwards and in the infield.
The No. 6 restarted on the outside of Deegan and wound up getting pushed up the hill when Kraus dove underneath the two. He was sitting in third-place going into Turn 3 coming to the finish, when suddenly he was sent spinning after unintentional contact with his teammate, Trevor Huddleston.
"I was on the No. 19’s (Deegan’s) bumper," Jones said. "Trevor was inside or behind me. And when Hailie hit the No. 16 (Kraus), everyone checked up. It was hard to tell. I know (Huddleston) didn’t try to take me out. It honestly all started with the two in front of us. They were just seeing who could wreck each other first, it seemed like."
Racing for the win tonight and ended up backwards across the line 7th. Wreckless driving from the top 3… Ready to move on to Sonoma.
— Jagger Jones?? (@jaggerjones98) June 9, 2019
"It was kind of a deal where you run into people and hope it sticks," he said. "That’s what the No. 19 loves to do. I guess she got the win and it worked out for her, but I don’t think it’ll last. Same with the No. 16. It might work a race or two, but it can’t last forever. It’ll come back to you."
You didn?t show the part when you tried to kill us all on the restart?
— Jagger Jones?? (@jaggerjones98) June 9, 2019
Brittney Zamora, the Bill McAnally Racing driver who wound up not being in the spotlight when the checkered flag flew, happened to be the one who set up the overtime restart after a spin with less than five laps remaining.
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 9, 2019
But following the spin and subsequent green/white/checkered, she finessed her way through the smoke and carnage to a fourth-place finish, her third career and third straight top-five result.
"That was an unfortunate deal," Zamora said. "I kind of had to baby the car with our setup. Just wasn’t given the room I deserved there on the inside, but that’s racing. Started around 10th on the restart, not in good spot. I was hoping to stay in the top 10, pick up a few spots, and then (I saw) a whole bunch of wreckage in front of me. Don’t know exactly who did what, but came out fourth, which is where we were before the wreck."
Unfortunate end to what was a really good weekend. Came home p4 but should?ve been battling for the win. Unfortunate how others driving over their head ruins a good night for several others. Moving on, but keeping it all in the memory bank & more determined than ever. pic.twitter.com/mMGcLwPsPg
— Brittney Zamora (@brittneyz52) June 9, 2019
Score One For The Small Guys
Scattered amongst Bill McAnally and Bob Bruncati’s cars are a handful of smaller teams and single-car operations, ones that are extremely integral to the longevity and success of the K&N Pro Series.
Kody Vanderwal carried the banner for Levin Racing, setting the track record at his home track, leading 46 laps from the pole to wind up second, his best finish of the season, when the smoke cleared.
"They all started wrecking in (Turn) 4," he said of the final lap. "I saw light, hit the gas and started burning rubber all the way to the finish line, ended up P2. I’m not going to complain. Got a little lucky there […] big confidence booster for us. The first two pavement races for us have been horrible. Bad luck, bad cars, whatever you wanna call it."
Todd Souza, a 13-year series veteran, completed the podium, scoring his best finish since May of 2017 for his Central Coast Cabinets Racing team.
As he knows, sometimes in racing it’s better to be lucky than good.
"At the end it was a lot of luck," he admitted. "But anytime you can get there and run with the top teams, it’s huge. We’re a single-car team running with teams that have a pretty much an unlimited budget. These kids bring a lot of money to be in these rides and have a lot of help. To finish up there in the top three is huge. I think we have more of these coming and a win under our belt for sure. If this was a 200-lap race, I think we would have had a shot at it."
Vanderwal’s teammate Matt Levin earned his second top five of the season. John Wood earned his best career-finish (sixth), carrying the banner for Kart Idaho Racing in the No. 38.
- Takuma Koga was awarded the free pass twice en route to a 10th-place finish, his fourth career top 10 result in 61 career races over nine seasons.
- Travis Milburn’s rear end failed, forcing him to a last-place finish (51 laps down). The No. 08 ran as high as fourth before his night went downhill.
- Taylor Canfield’s Joe Rogan Experience Chevrolet finished 12th. This was technically Canfield’s second start of the season, but first completing more than one lap.