Bill McAnally Racing announced today that Derek Kraus will drive the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry for BMR in 2018, as he contends for the championship in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
The 16-year-old Stratford, Wisconsin, driver took Rookie of the Year honors in the series this past season and was part of the BMR lineup that dominated the competition.
In addition to running the full 15-race schedule in the West division of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Kraus is also slated to compete in select events in the East division in 2018.
“We’re excited to announce that Derek will take the wheel of the No. 16 NAPA Toyota,” said BMR President Bill McAnally. “We were very impressed with his performance this past season and we will work hard to carry that momentum into next year.
“We look forward to seeing Derek continue his development,” McAnally said. “We’re confident he has what it takes to be a NASCAR champion.
“In addition to his performance on track this year, Derek also did a remarkable job in representing BMR and our partners,” McAnally said. “He has a great passion for racing and is an outstanding representative.”
The 2018 season will mark BMR’s 28th year of sponsorship by NAPA AUTO PARTS.
“We take great pride in representing NAPA AUTO PARTS,” said McAnally. “They are the ones who make the championships possible. We can’t thank everyone at NAPA enough for all they do.”
Kraus takes the seat vacated by Todd Gilliland, who drove the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry to back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. Gilliland, Chris Eggleston, and Kraus gave BMR a 1-2-3 finish, respectively, in the K&N West championship standings for 2017. They combined to win 11 of 14 series races this past season, with Kraus getting a victory in the season finale.
“I have big shoes to fill in going to the No. 16 NAPA Toyota, where Todd won two championships,” Kraus said. “We want to keep that going and win another championship, and get more wins. I think we can do that with all the great people at BMR.”
He credits the teamwork at BMR for the success.
“This year it showed,” he said. “Everyone worked together really hard in the shop and at the track. I think it’s really neat how everyone at BMR works together.”
Kraus made the transition to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series this past season after competing in super late models at multiple tracks in 2016. He continued to race in select super late model events in 2017, on his off weekends from K&N West competition.
Kraus began his racing career as a 7-year-old competing in the Wisconsin State Go Kart Series in 2008. Success in karting led him to move up to the Midwest Bandolero Series, where he won championships in 2013 and 2014. He followed that up with a championship in the Midwest Truck Series in 2015. In addition, he also won rookie titles that year in the American Ethanol Super Truck Series and at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wisconsin.
Among his accomplishments, he became the youngest driver to win an ARCA Midwest Tour Series race, breaking a 25-year-old record set by Matt Kenseth.
BMR captured its third straight title in 2017 and eighth K&N West championship overall – a record for the series and the NASCAR Regional Touring level.
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