Derek Kraus capped off a strong performance with a seventh-place finish in his inaugural visit to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Vet Tix Camping World 200 on Saturday.
His finish in the McAnally-Hilgemann Racing No. 19 NAPA AutoCare/ENEOS Toyota Tundra gave the 18-year-old his second top-10 finish in four NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races this season.
After starting 11th, Kraus slipped back in the early laps, due to the splitter of his truck hitting the track. Working past that issue, he began to move toward the front. Kraus was 12th at the end of Stage 1 on Lap 30 and third at the end of Stage 2 on Lap 60. He restarted second, but being in the outside line got shuffled back to seventh.
Kraus remained in seventh until making a green-flag pit stop on Lap 96 – returning to the track in 11th. He moved up to 10th as the laps wound down, then dashed up to seventh in the last two laps following an overtime restart. The finish moved him to ninth in the championship standings.
Kraus had not turned any laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway prior to Saturday’s race. The race was run under a health and safety plan implemented by NASCAR after the Covid-19 pandemic – with practice and qualifying eliminated, as well as being run without fans in attendance.
The strong performance at Atlanta Motor Speedway has special meaning for Kraus and the MHR team, with the race being so close to the headquarters of team sponsor NAPA AUTO PARTS. This year is also a special one, as Bill McAnally commemorates his 30th season in partnership with NAPA.
With NASCAR continuing to honor frontline health care workers, MHR had the name of Kyle Hilb over the driver’s door of the No. 19 NAPA AutoCare/ENEOS Tundra at Atlanta. Hilb, a firefighter/paramedic with Rural Metro Fire in Phoenix, is being honored as a Star of Life for his actions that saved a 13-year-old boy who had collapsed on his middle school’s track.
Derek Kraus – Thoughts about Atlanta
You really had a solid race all day. Can you talk about your top 10 run today at Atlanta?
“It was really good. We started 11th, and kind of fell back a little bit. It was hitting the splitter a little bit, but once we got going, the splitter came off the race track and that’s when we started running really good times. Everyone at MHR brought a really good NAPA Auto Care Toyota Tundra, and that helped a lot with the second and final stage with finishing seventh.”
You are headed to Homestead next, how ready are you to get to there after today’s performance?
“It was really good today, and I’m really excited to go to Homestead. It will be the first race back that I’ve been to the track that were racing at. I feel like that will definitely help. I’m just going in there with a lot of confidence and momentum from Atlanta. Hopefully, we can have a good finish there as well.”