By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
MONROE, Wash. — Mother Nature favored the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West drivers, as they were able to get qualifying completed, and when it was all set and done, NASCAR NEXT driver Derek Kraus (23.459 seconds) scored his third pole of the season.
Kraus told Motorsports Tribune that tire conservation is crucial to be in the race-winning battle and he hopes to be in contention.
“It’s definitely a good thing to start the day with the pole, but the race is what counts,” said Kraus. “Qualifying is good, but we got to make sure to perform all race. It’s going to be a tough 175 laps. It’s how grueling the track is on tires. We have to save our tires as much as we can, and hopefully we’ll be there at the end.”
While one Bill McAnally Racing driver celebrated, his teammate Cole Rouse wasn’t as fortunate. An apparent cut right front tire resulted his No. 99 NAPA Auto Filters Toyota bottoming out and slamming the Turn 1 wall. Rouse was able to bring his car back to the garage area, but the fourth fastest driver was forced to pull out the backup car for the 175-lap feature.
Starting alongside Kraus is the sole points leader Derek Thorn. The 2013 KNPSW champion took sole possession of the championship lead as a result of a 12-point penalty given to teammate Ryan Partridge due to a shock absorber failing to rebound at Iowa Speedway. Therefore, the championship chase is no longer tied. Partridge will start in third.
Kraus will look to bounce back after a one-lap penalty for making contact with Tayler Riddle late in the race last year.
“Last year was kind of a frustrating deal,” said Kraus. “It’s kind of different with all what happened, and it was tough year last year at this racetrack particularly. We came back here strong. So far we have the fastest time, so hopefully we can carry that during the race.”
The NAPA Auto Parts 175 will air on NBCSN on Wednesday, August 15 at 6 p.m. EST.