ROSEVILLE, Calif. – After a sensational NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut last fall at Arizona’s ISM Raceway, Derek Kraus is getting a repeat chance to shine on the national stage.
Bill McAnally Racing will field Kraus in four Truck Series events this season, beginning on March 23 with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Kraus will also compete at Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway on May 3, Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway on Sept. 13 and again at ISM Raceway on Nov. 8.
Team owner Bill McAnally confirmed the team’s Truck Series schedule to SPEED SPORT in a phone interview Tuesday evening and noted his excitement for Kraus’ progression to the next level with BMR.
“Being able to help our young drivers take that next step and show them not only what that next step is about, but how competitive it is to move up the NASCAR ladder, is something that’s important to us and we’re thankful that we can give them that opportunity,” McAnally said. “We have three trucks now, so we’ve built our fleet since jumping in at Phoenix last year.
“Derek is a very special young man and he has a bright future. We’ve really enjoyed developing him and working with him, both at the K&N level and in his Truck Series debut last fall,” continued McAnally. “He won the most K&N races last year of anyone, led the most laps, had the most poles and proved he could hang with guys like Derek Thorn and Ryan Partridge. He’s done a lot for us and we’re proud to work with him again in the Truck Series this season and hopefully help him grow in that series as well.”
Kraus’ No. 19 Toyota Tundra will carry primary sponsorship from ENEOS Motor Oil, a new sponsor to BMR this season that is also backing Brittney Zamora in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
“Really, it’s a collaboration between ENEOS, NAPA Auto Parts, NAPA Filters and Toyota that is making all this happen,” McAnally said. “We value those partnerships and are glad to welcome ENEOS to our team in a big way this season, both in the K&N Pro Series and in the Truck Series.
For Kraus, his return to the national stage comes after a standout eighth-place finish in his Truck Series debut at the one-mile desert oval near Phoenix, Ariz., in November.
Kraus ran as high as third at ISM Raceway and averaged a top-10 running position across the 150-lap distance. Now, he’s hoping to build on that success as he adds to his Truck Series slate this season.
“First, I need to thank everyone at BMR for believing in me and giving me another chance to come back to the Truck Series this season,” Kraus told SPEED SPORT. “Last year, going into Phoenix … we said a good weekend would be a top-15 finish and making the second round of qualifying, and a great weekend would be a top-10 finish and getting to the final round of qualifying. The way it all turned out, we ended up having a great weekend … with starting and finishing eighth in that race. That was huge.
“I feel like after last year, I have a lot more confidence in myself now that I can do this and our team can make it happen,” added Kraus, who won four K&N West races last year. “Hopefully we can go to Martinsville and start things off strong. Track position is huge there and keeping your truck in one piece is important, but I believe we can stay out of trouble and contend for a great finish there. It’s definitely a special place for any NASCAR racers.”
While as a racer, Kraus’ mission is always to win, he’s tempering his goals somewhat for his Truck starts.
“Martinsville, you just have to go there and finish, and the mile-and-a-half at (Las) Vegas will be a major learning experience for me,” Kraus admitted. “It’ll be different, but I’ll just have to adapt on the fly and soak in as much as I can.
“You never know, though. If we get ourselves in a position to fight for a win, I’m not afraid to go for it,” he added. “We just have to take things one race at a time and see what happens. I’m excited, though.”
In addition to his limited Truck Series schedule, Kraus will chase the K&N West championship again this season, his third full year with BMR on the West Coast.