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What We Learned Ism 111019
Derek Kraus gets sprayed by crew chief John Camilleri as they celebrate their 2019 K&N Pro Series West championship. (Meg Oliphant/NASCAR)

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

AVONDALE, Ariz. – The last race in K&N Pro Series history showcased two of the brightest young stars in NASCAR, and gave us a deserving finish.

The champion was officially crowned, a driver showed his worth in overtime and the end came to what has been the norm for the last decade.

Here is everything we learned from the Arizona Lottery 100 at ISM Raceway.

Arizona Lottery 100: Results | Race Recap


Kraus’ Crown

Derek Kraus’ racing dream was to become a NASCAR champion.

When the green flag flew, he officially made his dream a reality.

“It feels really good,” he said with a smile post-race. “We had a really good season this year. If we had a bad night, we were able to capitalize on it and do as much as we could do make the bad night as good as we could. I really can’t thank all these guys enough. They work their tails off on this race car to get it as good as it is every single race. And to finish the year out strong finishing fourth after starting towards the back of the field. It was a really good night and I’m really excited for the following years.”

Kraus started in the rear after failing post-qualifying inspection, but quickly worked his way into the top 10 by Lap 8. When the checkered flag flew, he wound up with a third-place result: his 11th top five and 13th top 10 of the year.

The championship is Bill McAnally Racing’s ninth overall and fourth in five years. The 49-point margin of victory in the standings is the largest since the series adopted the current points system in 2012.

Coming into the season, Kraus was the overwhelming favorite. With two full years under his belt with BMR in the series and six total victories (five out West) coming into 2019, Kraus and company knew all they had to do was race their race.

The rest would, and did, fall into place.

“We just had to focus week by week, take it one race at a time, be there and execute every single race,” he said. “It’s been a really big year and to cap it off with being the 2019 K&N West champion, it means a lot to me.”

Kraus admitted his driving style has changed leaps and bounds since coming into the series as a 15-year-old in 2017.

“I feel like three years ago, I was way too aggressive,” he said. “I used the tire up way too soon and now I feel like I make way smarter moves on the race track. I put the car where it can stay under control. Being in the series for three years helped me learn a lot and it was really big for me.”

Kraus rarely does celebratory donuts after race victories, but a championship calls for an all-out celebration. Despite not having much experience celebrating with his car, he made sure to put on a good smoke show.

“I just know to put all the front brake into it as I could and stood on the brake and gas at the same time,” he said. “I don’t know how I did or how it looked, but I saw a little bit of smoke so that was good.”

Although he may have pulled the burnout off, popping the celebratory champagne — or in this case, sparkling apple cider — didn’t go as well.

“They said it was a twist top, but it was way too hard,” he said. “We messed up this table trying to break them off, but it was really cool.”

Ending On A High Note

Four second-place finishes, zero finishes outside the top five and two wins in seven races? Not a bad season in the K&N Pro Series for Ty Gibbs.

The Charlotte, North Carolina, native took the lead on Lap 71 Saturday, diving to the inside of Sam Mayer for the top spot and securing it.

After that, he didn’t look back, holding Mayer off on two green/white/checkered overtime restarts to claim his second career K&N Pro Series victory.

“There was a lot going on there,” he said. “Those restarts really kind of got me flustered there. I got nervous for a little bit. I could really set him up on the restarts. That’s where I could get him the most. We just persevered, started on the back and the car was so good that we got to Victory Lane, it was a cool day.”

The win was the second in the history of Levin Racing, who had a partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing for Gibbs and Riley Herbst for the season finale.

The End of an Era

Saturday marked the final race with K&N Filters as the entitlement sponsor of the series. In 2020, the series will be rebranded to the ARCA Menards Series West.

K&N became the entitlement sponsor in 2010 and enjoyed a decade-long run sponsoring the top touring series of the sport.

2019 K&N Pro Series West Standings

Notes

  • Jagger Jones earned his eighth top-five finish of the season with his fifth-place run. He also clinched the Sunoco Rookie of the Year and finished second in the standings by three points over Hailie Deegan.
  • Deegan finished fourth for her eighth top five of 2019 and secured third place in the final standings, eclipsing the mark of fifth-place she set last year as highest finishing female in series’ history.
  • Brittney Zamora rebounded from being two laps down for a sixth-place finish and secured a top five points result in her rookie campaign. Zamora edged veteran racer Todd Souza by four points for the spot.
  • Trevor Huddleston spun late after contact with Souza, but finished top 10 for the 13th time this season. He finished third in the standings.
  • Corey Heim of Chad Bryant Racing crossed the finish line third. He was credited with a 25th-place finish, however. The No. 22 team, at the request of NASCAR Competition officials, ran an Illmor engine. NASCAR officials and the No. 22 agreed the team would be placed last in the official results regardless of their finish in the running order.
What We Learned Ism Gibbs 111019
Ty Gibbs raises the Arizona Lottery 100 trophy following his second career K&N Pro Series victory. (Meg Oliphant/NASCAR)