AVONDALE, Ariz. — The 2019 K&N Pro Series West season finale showcased the up and coming talent in NASCAR. And when the lights shined the brightest, the young drivers delivered.
Derek Kraus officially clinched the series championship by taking the green flag, and allowed himself to get a little introspective once the title was finalized.
“It’s a dream come true to become a NASCAR champion and it’s all because of you guys,” he said over the radio.
Dream: meet reality.
After failing pre-race inspection and starting in the rear, Kraus fought his way to finish inside the top five for the 11th time this season. Once he made the trip to Victory Lane, the gravity of what he’d just accomplished began to sink in.
“It feels really good,” Kraus said with a smile ear to ear. “We had a really good season this year. If we had a bad night, we were able to capitalize on it and do as much as we could do make the bad night as good as we could.”
“I really can’t thank all these (Bill McAnally Racing) guys enough. They work their tails off on this race car to get it as good as it is every single race. And to finish the year out strong finishing fourth after starting towards the back of the field, it was a really good night and I’m really excited for the following years.”
Kraus’ third full-time season in the series resulted in seven total wins (five West, two East) and an average finish of 4.0, a series best.
Further up front, Sam Mayer controlled the majority of the race, leading 68 laps total. But restarts plagued the 2019 K&N East champion all evening long, as he lost the lead to Ty Gibbs in Turns 1 and 2 with a little over 30 laps remaining
Gibbs, who didn’t give the lead up after taking it on Lap 71, was able to hold off Mayer for two green/white/checkered overtime restarts and win his first career K&N West race and second this season.
“There was a lot going on there,” Gibbs said of the finish to the Arizona Lottery 100. “Those restarts really kind of got me flustered there. I got nervous for a little bit. I could really set (Mayer) up on the restarts. That’s where I could get him the most. We just persevered, started in the back and the car was so good that we got to Victory Lane, it was a cool day.”
The win for Gibbs came under the Levin Racing banner in a partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing. The win is the team’s second in the organizations history (Sheldon Creed, Las Vegas 2018).
Kraus officially finished third, with his Bill McAnally Racing teammate Hailie Deegan fourth and Scottsdale, Arizona native Jagger Jones rounding out the top five.
Brittney Zamora, Trenton Moriarity, Trevor Huddleston, Todd Souza and Riley Herbst completed the top 10.
With his fifth place effort, Jones earned the runner-up spot in the 2019 standings, three points ahead of Deegan, who finished third. Huddleston and Zamora round out the top five.
The Arizona Lottery 100 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, November 14 at 6 p.m.
The NASCAR Touring Awards Banquet will take place on Saturday, November 23 in Charlotte, North Carolina.