Stratford, Wisconsin -- The 38th Annual Spring Classic Weekend at the fast 0.292 mile high-banked paved oval of Rockford speedway in Loves Park, Illinois is one of the most tradition laden season openers in the Midwest. A slew of divisions kick start their new seasons at the historic Northern Illinois oval. Some of the biggest names in short track racing have penned their name into the record books as winners during the race weekend. Steve Carlson, Alan Kulwicki, Ted Musgrave, Joe Shear and Dick Trickle just to name a few. You can also add the name of Derek Kraus to that list.
The 13-year-old rising star from Stratford, Wisconsin would clinch the overall weekend points title for the American Ethanol SuperTruck Series who ran twin 25-lap Features as part of the prestigious weekend. Kraus finished fifth in the first Feature before going to victory lane to score his first career Feature Win in the second Feature later in the afternoon. Both races served as round 1 of the Al Schill Jr. Memorial Lucky 7 Shootout.
"The truck was tight in the first race so we made some adjustments for the second race with the air pressures and that really helped the handling," Explained the Wisconsin teenager after becoming the youngest driver in Rockford Speedway's 68-year history to win a Feature in a full bodied machine. "Rockford Speedway has a long history of some of the best short track drivers and I am honored to win my first truck race here. I can't wait to come back in the fall for the National Short Track Championships. I couldn't have done any of this without my crew, sponsors or the support of my family." He added.
In the first 25-lap Feature, Chester Ace would win ahead of Kurt Kleven, Blake Brown, Rick Corso and Kraus. The second Feature would see Kraus start on the outside of the first row and beat fellow front row starter, Mike Corvo utilizing the high side to grab the early lead. Brown, the defending series champion tried every trick in his arsenal to get past Kraus as he went inside, then outside before slapping the turn one wall and ending his day. From there, Corvo, Kleven and Camden Murphy all took their turns at knocking Kraus off the perch, but it in the end it would be Kraus seeing the checkered flag first.
In addition to becoming the youngest driver in Rockford Speedway's 68-year history to win a Feature, he also became the youngest driver to win a truck feature since the American Ethanol SuperTruck Series was created in 1997. Kraus broke a long standing record which was held by a then 16-year-old Justin Musgrave, the son of former NASCAR competitor and another short track legend in the Illinois/Wisconsin motorsports scene, Ted Musgrave during the series' inaugural season, 18 years ago.
"I really want to thank the American Ethanol SuperTruck Series for giving us a great series. Plus the Al Schill Jr., Memorial Lucky 7 Shootout is really special to us. My Dad (Mark Kraus) raced with him in the old ARTGO Series and then when it became the NASCAR Midwest Series. So it means a lot to be leading the points" Kraus ended.
His next race will be on Sunday, May 3rd as Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin will host the Midwest Truck Series season opener, which is a part of the Joe Shear Classic for the ARCA Midwest Tour. The next race within the American Ethanol SuperTruck Series is on Saturday, May 16th at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin as it'll be Race #2 of the Al Schill Jr. Memorial Lucky Seven Shootout.
Kraus is also looking ahead to the rest of the 2015 racing season after starting the year behind the wheel of a high-powered Super Late Model. Kraus made the big leap forward in his racing career during the 49th annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Kraus competed in all seven races the Super Late Models were scheduled for and came away with an impressive 12th place showing in the final points standings.
In addition to running the entire 2015 schedule within the American Ethanol Super Truck Series as well as the Midwest Truck Tour, Kraus will make select appearances in the ARCA Midwest Tour later in the season as well as other Super Late Model events to be announced and that don't conflict with either Truck Series schedule.
-Derek Kraus Racing Press Release & Photo