Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Derek Kraus: 2021 NCWTS At Atlanta: Race Review

Derek Kraus: 2021 NCWTS At Atlanta (4/22): Race Review

Bodes Well for the Next Races

By: Nascarvd Nascarvédé 


Derek Kraus: 2021 NCWTS At Atlanta: Race Review


On Saturday in Atlanta, under blue skies, Derek and the entire #19 NAPA MHR Team almost played a score without false notes. I say almost because it didn't miss much to get a top10 or even better.


From his distant 29th position on the starting grid, however, the task was not easy. But from the start the Toyota Tundra #19 had a great pace and in just 10 laps it had already gained ten positions. But on the mile and a half oval in Hampton, GA, the gaps were bigs and despite this strong comeback, the chances of making it into the top10 at the end of the first stage seemed slim. 


How to catch 8 seconds in the last 15 laps? The competition caution halfway through the stage (17th lap) was going to be the solution thanks to a strategy very inspired by Matt Noyce. Derek was one of the few drivers who returned to the pit lane to put on new tires. And on such an abrasive track, that's an advantage. But at the restart Derek found himself again far from the top10 at the 28th position. But in barely 10 laps, thanks to a very incisive driving, he was going to move up the peloton. Entering the top10 with 5 laps from the end, he was not going to settle for this position and will finally finish the 1st stage with an excellent 6th position. And 5 points won for the championship! Finally stage points, the firsts of the year !!


An overloaded pitlane during the yellow flag, a distant position with the 3rd pit box after the pitlane entrance and unfortunately positions will be lost. At the restart of the 2nd stage Derek is 19th. But he will drive intelligently and succeed in returning to the top 10 at the end of this 2nd stage. And a new point gleaned for the championship. But it could have been better without the lost positions.


Because the race was crystal clear. No incident will slow down the race. And that's what will miss in the final stage for the #19 team. Why ? Because during the pit stop at the end of the 2nd stage, the team will make its only mistake of the day. Too fast for a fraction of a second. One of the members of the pit crews will touch the asphalt too quickly and this will not escape the NASCAR officials… “crewmember over the wall too soon”… 

Result a penalty forcing Derek to start at the back of the peloton in 27th position. The final segment is longer and the last 63 laps will be done without the slightest yellow flag. But to get back into the peloton, you have to attack. And who says incisive driving in traffic says premature tire wear. So Derek will gain 14 positions but he will lose a lap at the end of the race. He finally finished 13th and first driver in one lap. And this is where we regret that there was not a yellow flag. Because that would have allowed team #19 to benefit from the free pass and to put the 5th and last set of new tires which was still available. And with that it was the top 5 or even better! Because Derek certainly didn't have the best lap times during the race since he never had the clean air, but he was very fast. As proof, he was the one who overtook the most trucks under green flags with 82 !! Far ahead of Ross Chastain and Spencer Davis who made 63. Kyle Busch for example only made 10. That's the advantage of starting from the first row.


But this 13th position should not be seen as a failure. On the contrary, it brings a lot of positive. Derek already climbs from 24th to 15th position in the championship. Then we could see that the Tundra was fast on this type of oval. That Matt Noyce is a good strategist. “Matt is a thinker” as Kathy, Derek’s mom, told me. And finally the pit crews did a good job. Let’s not throw stones at them for this little “mistake”. On the contrary, it's even positive. They want to go fast because they are over-motivated!


And then for the record Kyle Busch wins the race, yes it is ... But with one lug nut not safe and secure. If we voluntarily "forget" to secure a lug nut, it's sure that we gain a little time in the pitlane… I cannot remember when Kyle Busch won a race with a car 100% compliant in the post-race inspection. I say that ... I say nothing ...


Next race on March 27 in Bristol Motor Speedway, TN on the dirt track. There will be a show! GO Derek GO !!


Race Results


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