Derek Kraus faces a couple of big challenges this week as the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series competes at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Sunday.
The driver of the McAnally-Hilgemann Racing No. 19 NAPA Filters Toyota Tundra faces a big enough task as a rookie trying to survive 147 laps on the historic speedway known as “The Track Too Tough To Tame,” but he has also has some ground to make up if he’s going to make the playoffs this season.
Only two races remain in the regular season to determine drivers in the playoff field. Kraus is 11th in the championship standings, 15 points below the cutoff line. He knows that a great finish at Darlington is crucial to his chances of remaining in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Kraus is not the only driver in the series making his first visit to Darlington. Only a few of the drivers who are entered in Sunday’s event competed at the raceway when the truck series last raced there in 2011.
This week’s race at Darlington is a special event for the truck series, with it being part of the annual Throwback Weekend that has become so popular at the historic track. Kraus will be driving an entry that is very similar in appearance to the iconic NAPA-sponsored truck that NASCAR Hall of Fame member Ron Hornaday drove to the first of his four series championships 24 years ago.
The 1996 Ron Hornaday Throwback entry is to honor Hornaday for his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in the class of 2018 and commemorate the first NASCAR championship for NAPA AUTO PARTS in 1996 with the No. 16 NAPA entry in the truck series. The throwback scheme also celebrates the 30-year partnership between NAPA AUTO PARTS and Bill McAnally Racing, from 1990 to 2020.
About the Number 19
The number “19” is significant to Kraus for several reasons this week. Of course, he drives the No. 19 NAPA Filters Toyota Tundra in the truck series. In addition, he turns 19 years old on Tuesday (9/1). He also enters this week’s event with 19 career series starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
Derek Kraus – Thoughts About Darlington
What do you anticipate on Sunday?
“I’m looking forward to Darlington. It’s going to be a long, tough race and I feel like we are going to have a good Tundra. I expect it will be good for the long runs.”
How will you try to gain ground in points?
“I just have to get as many stage points as I can and run consistent the next two races. It’s going to be tough, but I know the guys at MHR work early hard on the trucks. I have a lot of confidence in them.”