On the final green/white/checkered restart, an unfamiliar car and driver lined up fourth on the outside, the highest they’d run all night.
It was Kart Idaho Racing’s Josh Fanopoulos.
Forget the night–it was the highest he’d ran in a K&N Pro Series West race: EVER.
"I just tried to run smart, stay out of the way and save the car for the end," Fanopoulos told NASCAR.com. "Because I knew it was going to be a wreck fest at the end. That was the plan."
That it was. With 12 caution flags flying for a total of 70 laps, this year’s event fell one shy of the track record for Meridian Speedway yellows.
The biggest one came on Lap 207 (one lap remaining in regulation), with Fanopoulos scooting by unscathed. But even on the final restart, he had his own issue, as he was sent spinning on the frontstretch taking the white flag.
That's 1?2? #NASCAR K&N Pro ?s for Derek Kraus!
— #MyTrackMyRoots (@NASCARHomeTrack) September 29, 2019
"(Todd) Souza didn’t get a good start and (Zach) Telford ducked under him, so I followed him," Fanopoulos said. "The No. 7 car (Brad Kossow) came in too hot and dumped me. We talked, I expressed my dislike in the event, he apologized and we move onto the next one."
Coming into the event, Fanopoulos hadn’t finished on the lead lap in his entire K&N career (seven events), moreover inside the top 10 and run inside the top five.
Racing-Reference: Josh Fanopoulos Career Statistics
Working with one of the smaller teams in the series, who still manages to bring three, four and sometimes five cars to the track, the result did wonders for not only the man behind the wheel, but everybody working with KIR.
"It was a definitely a morale boost for our team," he said. "We put this car together two days ago. We fought nothing but problems all day to get it on the track. To come out with even a lead lap finish is a victory in our book for this current situation.
"Everyone was telling me to stay calm, on the green/white/checkered, don’t get over excited. I was happy to settle for a fourth if we were side-by-side with Telford. The line moved, I went with it, and I was pretty excited."
Fanopoulos will be in action this weekend as the K&N Pro Series East heads to Dover International Speedway for the General Tire 125, their season finale. He is also planning on competing in the remaining three K&N Pro West races at All American Speedway in Roseville, California; Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California; and Phoenix’s ISM Raceway.