ROSEVILLE, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2017) – Rookie Derek Kraus, driver of the No. 19 Carlyle Tools Toyota Camry for Bill McAnally Racing, looks to continue his impressive freshman season as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West heads into the final three events on this year’s 14-race schedule.
The series heads to Idaho this week for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Idaho 208 at Meridian Speedway on Saturday.
Kraus, who turned 16 earlier this month, leads in rookie points and is third in the overall championship standings for the series. The Stratford, Wisconsin teenager has six top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 11 starts this year – including a best finish of second on three occasions. He was the top finishing rookie in five of the 11 races.
“It’s been really good so far,” Kraus said of his season. “We’re still trying to get that first win. Everyone at the shop has been working really hard to help me get it. Hopefully, we can do it at the next race, at Meridian.”
Kraus credits his crew and the BMR equipment for helping him try to stay ahead of the learning curve as he transitioned this year from super late models to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
“The equipment that Bill McAnally provides me that I’m in at BMR is really good,” he said. “Ty, John and all the crew work hard. They bring a really good Carlyle Tools Toyota to the track. The set-up is where it needs to be or really close, right out of the trailer. That’s a big part of it. If you’re off at the beginning, it can take much of your practice to get it where it needs to be. I think everywhere we went this year, it’s been really good right away.”
Kraus – who is coming off a third-place finish at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Oregon – will be making his first series start at the quarter-mile track in Meridian.
His biggest competition this year has come from his BMR teammates, Todd Gilliland and Chris Eggleston; who have dominated the series – winning 10 of the 11 races so far. Kraus trails them in the championship standings, with Gilliland leading Eggleston by just five points.
“We finished 1-2-3 at several races,” Kraus said. “We should have a really good chance of finishing 1-2-3, again, and hopefully I’ll come out on top.”
Gilliland, the defending series champion who drives the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, won last year’s event at Meridian Speedway – one of six victories he scored as a rookie. The 17-year-old Sherrills Ford, North Carolina driver – a member of the NASCAR Next program – is coming off a win at Roseburg. He has six wins, eight top-five, and 10 top-10 finishes this season.
He’s attempting to become the first driver to win championships in the East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in the same season. It will require double duty and a cross-country trek this week. He leads the K&N East championship standings by eight points heading into that division’s season finale at Dover International Speedway in Delaware on Friday. Following that race, he will jump on a plane and travel approximately 2,500 miles west for Saturday’s race in Idaho.
Eggleston, the 2015 series champion, has had a banner year in his pursuit of a second series title. The series veteran from Erie, Colorado – who drives BMR’s No. 99 NAPA Filters / H20 Fire Protection Toyota Camry – has been in a fierce championship battle that could go down to the wire in the final race.
He has four wins, four poles, 10 top-five, and 11 top-10 finishes in 11 starts this year. His first victory of the season was in the season opener at Tucson (Arizona) Speedway. He had back-to-back wins; taking home the hardware at Orange Show Speedway in Southern California and at his home track, Colorado National Speedway. He led wire-to-wire in his most recent win, at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington.
Eggleston is coming off a second-place finish at Roseburg as he heads to Meridian – where he has made two starts. He finished fourth there in 2015. Last year, he qualified second and battled for the lead throughout the race – then charged back from a late-race incident to finish ninth.
Race fans will have an opportunity to see the BMR team in advance of Saturday’s race. A team hauler and BMR’s NAPA Toyotas are to be on display Friday at the NAPA AUTO PARTS Store in Meridian. Kraus and Eggleston are scheduled to be at the store beginning at 5 p.m. Friday evening to greet customers and sign autographs during a special NAPA Tools & Equipment sales event.
The BMR drivers will also be on hand Saturday for a special meet and greet at the hospitality area for NAPA Spokane and the Dyson Group, who are entitling this race, with their customers being treated to a VIP experience.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS Idaho 208, which marks the fourth visit by the series to Meridian Speedway, is slated to be televised on NBCSN on Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. PT.