Disappointing season for Kraus starts to show promise

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 10:17 PM CDT
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CHARLOTTE (WSAW) -From the very first green flag of 2021, Derek Kraus’ season has been marred by bad luck.

“My grandma always tells me it’s my sophomore year,” Kraus says. “My sophomore year, my second year in whatever I run, I always have bad luck, or stuff doesn’t just go my way.”

Because of that, Kraus was in a near must win situation on Friday at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.

“I mean I (had) two races left to get in the playoffs,” said Kraus. “I can’t point my way in anymore.”

He started on the pole, won the first two stages, then battled back from a flat tire to finish fifth.

He also made a few drivers upset along the way, as two of them spun Kraus out after the checkered flag.

“It’s what kind of racing is kind of going to happen there,” Kraus says of the way he raced at Knoxville. “Just because it’s so one lane (to race on).”

Despite the postrace theatrics, it was one of the best showings of Kraus’ career.

“I mean I was happy and not mad, but kind of disappointed because of how fast our truck was.”

The #19 truck has shown a lot more speed recently. Kraus has won the pole at two of the last three races and taken three stage wins in that timeframe.

A crew chief change in April, where his team brought in Mark Hillman, is starting to pay dividends.

“Every race that he’s been with me, every truck that he’s prepared, every truck that the crew’s prepared, it’s been fast,” Kraus says.

The Stratford driver will have one more shot to win his way into the playoffs at Watkins Glen next month. If he can’t score the walk-off victory there, he feels good about his chances of scoring his first win before the end of the season.

“I feel like we definitely have the speed for it,” Kraus says of possibly winning this year. “If we’re not in it, or if we don’t win that race (at Watkins Glen), we’re going to have to do everything we can to finish off the year and hopefully get a win.”

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