Kraus captures K&N East opener at New Smyrna
For the Hub City Times
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL – Derek Kraus made a thrilling three-wide pass for the lead, then pulled away to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season opener at New Smyrna Speedway on Feb. 11.
Kraus was running third in the Bill McAnally Racing No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, with 41 laps remaining, when he took advantage of the two leaders coming in contact while battling side-by-side. He darted to the inside to take the lead.
Kraus said he anticipated the pair would touch. When they did, he made his move.
“They drifted up in (turns) 3 and 4,” he said. “I saw an opening and I took it.”
The 17-year-old from Stratford faced a big challenge, starting 16th after qualifying was rained out on Feb. 10 and the grid was set per the rule book. He and his BMR NAPA team had an extra day to think about their strategy, with the 175-lap race being postponed a day due to the weather.
“We made a lot of adjustments after practice and that helped,” Kraus said. “We had a really good car all night. We had to save our tires and I feel like that’s what helped win the race. That helped us out there in the end.”
He made a pit stop during the first of two scheduled breaks, then remained on track during the second one. After seizing the lead, he pulled away from the field and then held on after another restart with 10 laps remaining.
“It was a big win for me,” Kraus said. “It’s a great way to start off the season.”
The victory by Kraus marked his sixth career NASCAR K&N Pro Series win, but his first in a K&N East event. In two previous series starts at New Smyrna, Kraus finished third in 2017 and fourth in 2018.
The race will be televised on NBCSN on Feb. 13.
The next event on the K&N Pro Series East schedule will be at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway on April 6.