Derek Kraus Trans Am 061719
Derek Kraus wheeled his No. 11 Chevrolet to a victory in his first career Trans-Am start. (Trans-Am)

Derek Kraus Wins in Trans-Am Debut At Sonoma, Gains Valuable Experience for K&N West Race

All he does is win, win, win; no matter the vehicle.

Derek Kraus, current championship points leader in both the K&N Pro Series East and West divisions, won in his Trans Am debut in the No. 11 Shockwave Marine Suspension Seating Chevrolet Camaro this past weekend at Sonoma Raceway, Round 4 of the Trans Am Presented by Pirelli West Championship Series.

Kraus qualified on the pole and lost the TA2 class lead on the initial start. After taking it back on Lap 7, he never relinquished the top spot, cruising to the victory in his first series start.

Kraus’ win was relatively unexpected to most, including the Stratford, Wisconsin, native himself.

"Not really," Kraus told with a chuckle when asked if he expected to run like he did. "Very surprised. I qualified on the pole, led pretty much the whole race. David Smith with Shockwave set us up with the team, went there and did pretty good I guess."

Kraus was able to take lessons learned from the Trans Am event that he’s planning on applying to Saturday’s 50-lap event around the 12-turn road course.

"I learned a lot with the passing zones," he said. "There’s definitely a lot more this year than last year with the layout change. Definitely going to be fun going there with the different track. Looking forward to it."

The aforementioned Smith, Kraus’ team owner, has had a relationship with the Bill McAnally Racing driver for a couple seasons. Once a hole in Kraus’ schedule opened up, Smith jumped on the opportunity to put him in his car.

Clearly, it paid off.

"We met David Smith two years ago, my first year in K&N, at Tucson," he said. "We were just talking and eventually I ran his Trans Am car last year in a practice session with Chris Cook coaching me. We kept talking, kept talking. I had tested before, like three weeks ago with him, and then he said, ‘let’s go race,’ but we were all booked up, had no time for race. Then Thompson got cancelled, and this weekend opened up, and took advantage of it."

Cook, who had coached Kraus in the past, finished second, almost 20 seconds behind his teammate Kraus.

The 17-year-old and four-time K&N winner in 2019 (New Smyrna, South Boston and two at Tucson) isn’t short on confidence for the main event this upcoming weekend, but is approaching it with a different mentality being the points leader with over 30 cars showing up.

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"I feel like it should be a good weekend," he said. "We just gotta stay out of trouble. You just gotta keep all four tires on the race track. But after this weekend, I feel like we can run up front and be a contender for the win."

The Procore 200 is scheduled to begin at approximately 1:30 p.m. PDT from Sonoma Raceway. FansChoice.TV will have live coverage of the event.

Derek Kraus Sonoma 061819
In two trips to Sonoma, Derek Kraus has yet to finish outside the top 10. (Logan Whitton/NKP)