Derek Kraus had a convincing performance with McAnally-Hilgemann Racing’s No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Tundra in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series action on the dirt at Knoxville Speedway on Friday night – winning the pole, sweeping both stage wins and nailing down a top-five finish late in an event that concluded with four overtime restarts and was extended to 179 laps.
The 19-year-old from Stratford, Wisconsin took advantage of multiple cautions late in the event to battle back for a fifth-place finish after a cut tire put him down a lap in 33rd.
Kraus had earned the pole position – his second of the year – based on his performance in his heat race, in which he charged from 10th to finish second. He led the feature at the drop of the green, before slipping back in a tight pack of lead trucks. He dashed into first on Lap 37, just before a caution came out, to win Stage 1. He followed a similar path in the second stage, battling among the top five and then seizing the lead just before a yellow came out, to score his second stage win of the event.
On a track where the lower line had the preferred groove as the race developed, Kraus then got hung out on a restart and was shuffled back to eighth. In a battle for the inside line on Lap 105, his left rear tire was cut down after contact from the truck behind him. He headed to the pits for service under the subsequent caution, then restarted a lap down in 33rd.
Kraus was determined to battle back, getting back on the lead lap with the free pass on Lap 131. In his charge to the front, he managed to avoid the carnage around him and continue to gain spots. He was up to 15th by Lap 153 and moved up to 11th for the second of the overtime restarts. He lined up in seventh for the final of the four overtime restarts and dashed across the finish line in fifth, two laps later.
With his finish, coupled with winning both stages, Kraus had a strong points night and moved up three spots in the championship standings to 12th.
Friday’s event marked the inaugural Camping World Truck Series race at the famed semi-banked, half-mile dirt track in Iowa.
Kraus and team co-owner Bill McAnally arrived in Knoxville early for a special appearance at a NAPA AUTO PARTS store on Wednesday. Top customers met Kraus, posed for pictures, got his autograph and had dinner. They also had the opportunity to get an up-close view of the No. 19 Tundra and transporter.
Kraus visited NAPA AutoCare repair shops in Knoxville on Thursday and met with Doug Sander NAPA Des Moines DC Wholesale Manager; Mike Johnson, BBB Industries regional sales manager; and Brad Wyant, NAPA Premier group sales manager. At the track on Friday, a large group of NAPA guests received a VIP welcome – with a meet-and-greet featuring Kraus and a tour of the pit area.
Derek Kraus – Thoughts about the race
What was it like to win the heat and pace the field for the start of the inaugural series race at Knoxville Speedway?
“It was fun to lead the field to the green. We had a very fast Toyota Tundra.”
What happened in the incident and the flat tire?
“We just got the left rear tire cut and that set us behind. But the truck was still very good and we were able to get back up there.”
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Event:
Race: Corn Belt 150 (150 Laps) (Race 14 of 22) July 9, 2021
Location: Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, Iowa (1/2-mile dirt oval)
Format: Three Stages; Lap 40 / Lap 90 / Lap 150
No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus / NAPA AutoCare Toyota Tundra
Hometown: Stratford, Wis.
Stage 1: 1st
Stage 2: 1st
Finished: 5th (Running, completed 179 of 179 laps)
Laps led: 10
Race Winner: Austin Hill
2021 Series Stats:
Races: 14 starts, 2 poles, 1 top five, 4 top 10s
Laps completed: 1,668/1,904
Laps led: 58
Series standings: 12th
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Aug. 7, 2021, Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, N.Y. (2.45-mile road course).
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!