BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — He came, he saw, he conquered.
Derek Kraus was the overwhelming favorite coming into Kern County Raceway Park, winning the last three events at the California half-mile in successive fashion.
Kraus added to his impressive KCRP resume and then some in Saturday’s NAPA/ENEOS 150, leading every lap from the pole and surviving an overtime restart.
“I really like this place,” said Kraus, driver of the Bill McAnally Racing with Mike Curb No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry. “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 or a K&N car.”
The win was the 99th overall for BMR since the team’s inception.
Kraus also had to nail a handful of restarts in the second half of the race, but none more important than the green-white-checkered in overtime.
“There were definitely a lot more nerves going into that last one for sure,” he said. “I feel like whenever I’m leading a race, there’s a yellow within the last five laps, and I just had a stinky feeling something was gonna happen […] feel like I executed that restart really well. Was able to get the lead back, pull away by two car lengths and bring it home with a victory.”
The win is Kraus’ fifth this season in the K&N Pro Series West and seventh overall (including two K&N East wins). It’s also his 10th career K&N West win and fourth in a row at KCRP, setting a new K&N Pro Series record.
Only two drivers in the 66-year history of the series have won four consecutive races at the same track.
Six-time K&N West champion 1986 Ray Elder accomplished the feat at Gardena (Ascot Park) in 1967, 1968 (both races) and 1970 (no race in 1969) and 1986 champion Hershel McGriff won five straight at Portland Speedway (1971, twice in 1972, twice times in 1973).
Following Kraus across the finish line as the runner-up was Roseville winner Jagger Jones, who rebounded from a flat tire on Lap 55 to earn his second-best finish of the season.
Kraus’ Bill McAnally Racing teammates Hailie Deegan and Brittney Zamora, as well as Todd Souza, completed the top five. Travis Milburn, Dylan Garner, Trevor Huddleston, Brad Kossow and Zach Telford rounded out the top 10.
With the win, Kraus all but clinched the 2019 championship. All he has to do at ISM Raceway is start the race, as Sam Mayer did for the K&N East season finale, and the title will officially be his.
Derek Kraus, Jagger Jones, Hailie Deegan, Brittney Zamora, Todd Souza, Travis Milburn, Dylan Garner, Trevor Huddleston, Brad Kossow, Zach Telford, Takuma Koga, Taylor Canfield, Jack Wood.