ROSEBURG, Ore. — Douglas County Speedway was the site of round seven of the 2019 K&N Pro Series West, and when it’s all said and done, it may be remembered as the weekend where the title race became that much clearer.
The championship points leader extended his lead with a statement victory, the series’ premier team extended an impressive streak and a rookie inched a little bit closer to his first victory.
Here is everything we learned from the Clint Newell Auto Group Toyota 150 presented by ENEOS at Douglas County Speedway.
Derek’s Douglas County Dominance
Cue the alliteration, because Derek Kraus was so downright dominant in Douglas County it felt like deja vú.
The 17-year-old Stratford, Wisconsin, native followed up his 2018 performance (133 laps led) at the 0.375-mile track by leading all 150 laps this go around, the first time Kraus has led wire-to-wire since a Midwest Tour race a few years ago.
Kraus was able to control all five restarts, choosing the bottom lane (preferred groove). But he wasn’t worried even if he had to restart up high because he’d done it before.
“Last year we got it done on the top, so if we needed to I feel like we could’ve gotten it done if we needed to,” he said. “But we had a really good car on the bottom. I just made sure I didn’t spin the tires or jump the restart like we saw last week at Sonoma. I just had top stay patient and calm in the race car, to my best to not spin my tires up off of (Turn) 2 and not let anyone get inside of me.”
Almost every race of Kraus’ 2019 K&N West season has had some sort of issue. From a fuel pump issue at Sonoma, to a broken swaybar at Colorado and radio issues at multiple tracks, driver No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota was feeling a bit introspective following his fifth K&N win of this season.
Racing-Reference: Derek Kraus Career Statistics
“You never know going into races,” he said. “At Colorado, I thought we had a really good car and we were going to win there, but the swaybar broke under yellow. With racing, it’s a huge unknown until the checkered flag falls. Once we got a lead, I could see the people in the mirror, I’d stay patient, stay calm and not spin the tires off the corner.”
With no breaks in the 150-lap event, tire conservation was paramount. Being one of the most experienced drivers in the 15-car field, he felt having that edge on his competition helped him get over the hump.
“Being my third year, I’ve been able to learn,” he said. “My first year, I was way too aggressive and I’d use up all the tires by the end of the race. Now this year, I’m learning how to save tire and be there at the end of the race. Being my third year, I’ve got a lot of experience saving tires, that’s pretty much the name of the game when it comes to a short track, 150 laps, no breaks or anything.”
Kraus spent the last two weeks out West, helping his crew at the Bill McAnally Racing shop every day. He gained a new appreciation for how hard his crew works day in and day out to bring a fast hot rod to the race track.
To him, that may be the most important aspect of his dual championship run.
“Every win is as sweet as the last one,” he said. “You don’t know — this could be my last one — hopefully we have more to come this season and can win the championship too. We just gotta take it race by race, and if we do our job at the race track, the championship race will take care of itself.”
Bill McAnally’s Playground
A Bill McAnally Racing car has graced Victory Lane at Douglas County Speedway in eight of the last nine trips.
That’s one helluva streak. But no performance may have been more dominant than Saturday night’s from Kraus, according to team owner Bill McAnally.
“He was dominant, he had a great car,” he said. “That thing was stuck to the bottom and he drove flawless. He never abused it, took care of it and was there all night.”
Hailie Deegan (third) and Brittney Zamora (fifth) put all three BMR cars inside the top five when the checkered flag flew. Deegan, a two-time winner this season, pointed to restarting on the outside as the biggest hurdle in challenging Kraus.
“We had a second-place car tonight,” she said. “It would’ve been hard to get Derek. We just kept getting screwed on those restarts. Came home with a clean nose, not a horrible points day, it’s good.”
Racing-Reference: Hailie Deegan Career Statistics
Following the controversial finish at Colorado National Speedway, BMR had a meeting where kinks were ironed out and protocol moving forward was laid out.
“Hailie’s a great driver and if she’s got a shot to win, she’ll take it,” McAnally said. “We did have some talks and everybody thinking big picture now, thinking about being prepared and not repairing race cars. A short track here at Roseburg, to take cars home with as little damage as we did this weekend, the drivers did phenomenal. They all used their heads thinking big picture. So we can go home, prepare for New Hampshire and not repair from Roseburg.”
And by all accounts, Kraus and Deegan are “all good,” per McAnally.
Best friends https://t.co/zfOGy9MhSN
— Hailie Deegan (@HailieDeegan) June 30, 2019
Moving Like Jagger?
Jagger Jones is getting closer and closer to his first career K&N Pro Series victory.
Tying his best-career result, the Scottsdale, Arizona, native came home runner-up on Saturday, about where the No. 6 Sunrise Ford ran all day long.
“I think we were about second or third place car,” he said. “I think after about 12 or so laps, everyone kind of leveled out. Everyone was similar on speed, it was just those first few laps getting those passes and as many positions as you can on the restarts and kind of bumping each other a little to get so you were secure enough and not in an odd spot. We were able to do that and run our way up on the last restart into second.”
Jones’ results in his rookie season piloting a full-bodied stock car have been consistently impressive. Only three finishes outside the top five and one outside the top 10 in seven starts. Even so, he’s starting to reach a point where taking solace in good runs can only mean so much.
Racing-Reference: Jagger Jones Career Statistics
“I definitely just want to win, but you’ve got to improve,” he said. “If you’re improving, that’s a positive. I just want to go out there and get a win for my team and Bob Bruncati who’s given me this opportunity.”
- Travis Milburn finished sixth, his best finish of the season and second-best of his career. After back-to-back weekends marred by rear end and engine issues in his No. 08, a good run was just what the doctor ordered.
- Kody Vanderwal ran as high as second on the evening, but was relegated to an eighth-place finish after sustaining damage under caution and being bumped out of the way for seventh by Todd Souza. Understandably, he was rather emotional post-race.
Knowing we might not make it to Iowa for funding reasons, I drove my absolute heart out to put ourselves in a good spot. Only for it to get taken away by someone that was 10 laps down. And then get dumped on the last lap. I don't know what my future looks like, but I won't quit
— Kody Vanderwal (@KodyVanderwal) June 30, 2019
- Keith McGee finished 11th in his first start of 2019 and second of his career. He was carrying names of cancer survivors on the hood of his No. 37 car.
— #MyTrackMyRoots (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 29, 2019
- Matt Levin and Taylor Canfield finished 14th and 15th, respectively. Levin suffered an engine issue and Canfield’s front end was totaled after a Lap 35 accident.