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Derek Kraus Wwl Kern 102919
Derek Kraus' Kern dominance has him on the verge of the 2019 K&N Pro Series West championship. (Meg Oliphant/NASCAR)

K&N Catch-Up: What We Learned At Kern

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Derek Kraus and Kern County Raceway Park: a perfect pair.

The master of Kern flexed his muscle once again, inched closer to the championship while a couple of teammates rebounded after tire failures for solid finishes.

Here is everything we learned from the NAPA/ENEOS 150 at Kern County Raceway Park.

NAPA/ENEOS 150: Results | Race Recap | Photo Gallery | Video


Kraus’ Playground

Quickest in practice, quickest in qualifying, leads every lap and wins for the fourth straight time at Kern.

Not a bad day for Derek Kraus and Bill McAnally Racing, huh?

The win, Kraus’ fifth of 2019 in the K&N Pro Series West, puts him in rarefied air, joining series legends Ray Elder and Hershel McGriff as the only drivers to win four or more consecutive events at the same track.

Saturday marked the third time this season Kraus has led every lap in a race, with the other two coming at Tucson and Roseburg.

The 18-year-old was at a loss for words when asked what makes him so good at KCRP.

“I don’t know, everybody always asks me that,” he told NASCAR.com. “I really like this place. It’s fast, you gotta stay right on the bottom of the race track and I kind of like places like that. It’s got a lot of grip. It’s a really great race track. I really enjoy coming here in a late model of K&N car. It was a really good night tonight. Just can’t thank all my BMR guys enough. They prepared me a really great car coming here and we showed it by leading 155 laps.”

Hailie Deegan, who finished third and ran as high as second behind Kraus, was able to stay within half a straightaway behind the Stratford, Wisconsin, native. But she, too, was dumbfounded with Kraus’ ability to flat out beat everybody to a pulp.

“Derek for some reason, he has two tenths you can’t find every single lap,” Deegan said. “I don’t know where the hell he’s finding it, because I’m trying, driving my ass off and I can’t find it. I’ll back up my corners: it’s slower. I’ll drive it in deep — for some reason, the deeper I drove it in, the better my car turned. And when I tried backing up my corner to get it to turn when it was tight, it just wouldn’t turn. I couldn’t wrap the bottom like he could.”

John Camilleri, who’s won nine races as Kraus’ crew chief since the start of 2018, knew his driver had something as soon as he turned his first laps around the California half-mile a few years ago.

“The first day he came and tested when he was 15 years old, he’d never been in a K&N car before, Lap 2, he picks up the throttle in the middle of a dirty race track in the middle of the corner, I knew he had it,” he said. “He just had it here. It doesn’t matter what you give him, he’ll go win with it.”

Championship All But Secured

Entering Kern with a 40-point buffer over second in the points standings, Kraus needed to gain eight points on those behind him to officially clinch the 2019 championship.

After leading the most laps and some of his competitors encountering trouble, he wound up leaving KCRP with a 47-point lead, one shy of clinching the title.

That means all Kraus and his Bill McAnally Racing team have to do for the season finale at ISM Raceway is take the green flag. Once they do so, the championship will officially be theirs.

“That feels really good,” Kraus said. “Ever since I was 9-years-old in a go-kart, I’ve always dreamed of becoming a NASCAR champion. Going to Phoenix knowing we’ve got a really good chance of doing that means the world to me.”

Sunrise Ford Teammates Rebound

On Lap 40, Trevor Huddleston suffered a flat right front tire while running inside the top five. He wound up going two laps down, receiving the free pass twice and finishing eighth, his 12th top 10 result of the season.

Sixteen laps later, Jagger Jones suffered the same failure, but only went one lap down. He wound up getting the free pass before his teammate Huddleston and wheeled his Sunrise Racing Ford back through the field for a runner-up finish.

“Great night for us,” he said. “Between yesterday in practice and practice today, P2 sounded like a dream for us. We really struggled this weekend. And we were running fourth, got a right front flat, m barely stayed one lap down. Thanks to my crew in the pits for changing that right front and keeping me one lap down. Got the lucky dog, drove all the way through the field, that last restart got up to P2. Super pumped.”

The runner-up finish comes one race after Jones’ first career victory at All American Speedway.

2019 K&N Pro Series West Standings

Notes

  • Brittney Zamora earned her sixth top five finish of the season and best result since Evergreen with a fourth-place run.
    • In his third career race, her BMR teammate Dylan Garner earned his best career finish of seventh.
  • Todd Souza’s fifth top five of the season continues what has been a career season for the Watsonville, California native.
  • Travis Milburn’s sixth-place run was the best finish if 2019 for his Kart Idaho Racing team and the second-best of his K&N West career.
  • Brad Kossow finished ninth in his second career race, earning a top 10 in both events.
Derek Kraus Wwl Kern Flag 102919
Derek Kraus led flag to flag for the third time this season en route to his fifth win of the 2019 season. (Meg Oliphant/NASCAR)