By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – Two local racers were honored at the NASCAR Night of Champions celebration Dec. 8 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Derek Kraus, who races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, received a trophy for finishing third in the K&N West standings.
Kraus – a 16-year-old from Stratford – was also honored with the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the series and the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award for 2017.
Kraus had one win, one pole, nine top-five, and 10 top-10 finishes in the series. He was the top finishing rookie in seven of the 14 races.
Also honored at the ceremony was Spring Lake Speedway, Unity, Champion Chris Oertel.
Oertel was recognized, along with 58 other 2017 track champions that are sanctioned under the NASCAR banner as part of the Whelen All-American Series
In eight starts at Spring Lake Speedway, Oertel had three wins, seven top-five finished, and finished in the top ten in all eight races.
“This is our eighth championship, but the first time under the NASCAR sanction,” Oertel explained.
“I didn’t know how big of a magnitude this banquet would be. In years past, we’ve gone to national banquets to receive our state championship award. We used to race under the Wissota and that was up in St. Cloud (Minnesota.) This was just so much more elaborate. There were 1,200 people there (and) drivers from all over the country, all over the world.
“It was really neat to be showcased at such a major venue.”