SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2017) – Derek Kraus charged from the back of the pack to finish fifth at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday in the Carneros 200 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event, his first race on a road course.
The 15-year-old series rookie from Stratford, Wisconsin looked more like a road racing veteran as he drove the No. 19 Carlyle Tools Toyota Camry through the field on the winding 1.99-mile track.
Kraus led the charge among the full-time Bill McAnally Racing drivers, who all finished in the top 10. Todd Gilliland was sixth in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, while Chris Eggleston was 10th in the No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota Camry. With their top-10 finishes, the trio of BMR drivers maintained the top three positions in the championship standings.
“It was a really good run,” said Kraus. “We had a problem in qualifying. We found out we had something wrong with the front suspension. We had to take it out of the tech line and fix it. So, we had to start at the back.
“We got through the field well and the halfway break helped us to make adjustments,” he said. “After that, our Carlyle Tools Toyota was really good. It was really fun racing here. It was my first time on a road course. I’m really happy with a top-five finish.”
Gilliland, who started eighth on the grid, battled handling issues and was relieved to finish where he did.
“We had a really loose race car today,” said the 17-year-old defending series champion from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina. “It was probably an 11th or 12th place car, but we stayed positive and didn’t make mistakes. It was all good. We finished sixth our NAPA Toyota. It was a good points day and we’re looking forward to getting back on ovals.”
Eggleston, meanwhile, was disappointed about losing positions in a late-race incident.
“We felt like we had a good NAPA Filters Toyota,” said Eggleston, who started ninth. “We were saving the rear tires. At the halfway break some of the guys made good adjustments and our car kind of stayed the same.
“Todd got by us and I was trying to keep pace with him,” said the 2015 series champion, who hails from Erie, Colorado. “I got inside the (car) 55 going into Turn 11, and wheel-hopped into him. I apologize; that was my fault. It kind of ruined both of our days. I’m glad we got it back going at least. It could have been a lot worse.”
The day did not go as well for two additional BMR entries. Derek Thorn qualified fourth and ran in the lead pack in the No. 43 Campbell Motorsports/Racing for Autism Toyota Camry – but was sidelined by a mechanical issue. Will Gallaher, making his series debut in the No. 54 First Community Bank Toyota Camry, started 18th and finished 20th.
The race was won by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular Kevin Harvick.
Gilliland retained his lead in the championship standings, with an 11-point margin over Eggleston. Kraus, who leads the rookie points, is third in the overall standings.
The Carneros 200 is scheduled to be televised on NBCSN on June 29 at 8 p.m. PT.
The Sonoma weekend included an opportunity for special guests of NAPA AUTO PARTS to get an inside look at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage, with BMR providing special VIP Pit Tours on Saturday.
The next event on the circuit will be the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway on July 28.