The 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season came to an end at Kern County Raceway Park (CA) Saturday night during day one of the October Classic. It was a tale of the two Derek’s in the series finale. Young Derek Kraus scored his third straight series victory at Kern County, while Derek Thorn just needed to start the race to clinch his second West Series title.
The night started off with Hailie Deegan capturing her second pole award of the year and the first of her career on asphalt.
When the green flag dropped, Deegan and her Bill McAnally Racing teammate Kraus led the field into turn one. Deegan stayed out front for the first few laps until Kraus was able to carry momentum into turn three and complete the pass on lap 4.
Deegan remained within striking distance and took the lead back on lap 21 until lapped traffic played in Kraus’ favor and he was able to take the lead back near the lap 50 mark.
“I was almost afraid that we were going a little too hard early in the race,” Kraus told Speed51.com. “I like to get out front and be able to set our own pace. Kern is tough to pass people, so getting the lead is really important.”
Deegan enjoyed the early action of the race before fading back to sixth in the late stages.
“Derek and I battled really hard there,” Deegan said. “We switched the lead like four times in the first 70 laps. That was a lot of fun, that was the most comfortable that I’ve been in my car all year.”
Kraus didn’t look back once the green flag was thrown again, and he would lead every lap up to the last competition caution.
With just under 50 laps to go, Kraus took off to where he was before the competition caution and didn’t look back. The Wisconsin driver had no trouble making his way through lapped traffic and had near a half-lap lead until a late-race caution erased it all.
That caution set up a six-lap shootout and handful of drivers were ready to give Kraus their best shot. But unfortunately for them, their best shot wasn’t enough on this night. Kraus remained dominant as he was able to charge ahead on the restart and capture his fourth win on the season and his third straight at the Bakersfield oval.
Thorn dropped back following the late-race caution to secure a fifth-place finish that was good enough to secure his second NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Championship for team owner Bob Bruncati.
“I feel pretty good; it’s one thing to sit down in March and talk about this. We knew we had a lot of work to get here and Bill Sedgewick along with everybody at the shop worked really hard to get us here,” Thorn stated. “It’s one thing to have a plan, another thing to execute and another to have luck on your side. It’s been a team dynamic with everybody to win this championship with all the drivers and crew to win this championship.”
Thorn’s teammates of Ryan Partridge and Trevor Huddleston would go on to finish second and third, respectively. Partridge used a good run to secure his second-place finish in the championship battle. David Mayhew finished fourth with Thorn rounding out the top five.
Deegan fell back in the late stages after running in the top three the majority of the race. With her sixth-place finish, Deegan secured the 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Rookie of the Year honors. By winning the award, she becomes the first female driver to ever win the award in any of NASCAR top-tier series.
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-Story by: Jeremy Anders, Speed51.com Northwest Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Kyler Hope
K&N West October Classic Unofficial Results
October 27, 2018 – Kern County Raceway Park (CA)
Pos # Driver
1 16 Derek Kraus
2 9 Ryan Partridge
3 22 Trevor Huddleston
4 17 David Mayhew
5 6 Derek Thorn
6 19 Hailie Deegan
7 99 Cole Rouse
8 43 Kody Vanderwal
9 13 Todd Souza
10 10 Matt Levin
11 18 Bill Kann
12 11 Takuma Koga
13 77 Nick Joanides
14 36 Taylor Canfield
15 40 Ron Norman
16 84 Rich Delong III
17 08 Travis Milburn
18 39 Keith McGee