Thursday, April 15, 2021

Derek Kraus: 2021 NCWTS at Richmond: Race Preview

By: Nascarvd Nascarvédé

April 17, 2021 “Toyota Care 250”
(Stages 70/140/250 laps = 187.5 miles)


Derek Kraus: 2021 NCWTS at Richmond: Race Preview

The new driver / crew chief combination at McAnally-Hilgemann Racing will begin this Saturday, April 17th. Indeed Matt Noyce is replaced after the first 5 races by Mark Hillman as crew chief. Rest assured Matt is not left without a job because he's joining Niece Motorsports this weekend in Richmond where he will officiate as crew chief for truck #44 with Jett Noland as driver.



But who is Mark Hillman? In NASCAR there are the big families of drivers with the Petty, Earnhardt, Labonte, Wallace, Jarrett, Bodine, Busch,… But there are also the big families of crew chiefs. This is the case with the Hillmans. A family from Lockport, NY. Mark is the son of Mike Hillman, who has had a long career as a NASCAR crew chief. In the Cup Series for example since 1993 (372 races). And he's still active in 2021 at Rick Ware Racing where he takes care of the #51. But above all, he was successful in the Xfinity Series with the title of champion obtained with Tommy Ellis in 1988. But he was also crew chief in the Camping World Truck Series where he was successful with Todd Bodine for example.


Among the Hillmans, there is also Mark's brother, Mike, Jr. who has also been crew chief in all the NASCAR Series, the Cup, the NXS, the K&N and especially the NCWTS where he has been successful with many drivers including Todd Bodine. With "The Onion" he won the championship title in 2006 and 2010. His last success in NCWTS he won in 2020 with Raphael Lessard in Talladega when he was working for Kyle Busch Motorsports. This year he officiates as crew chief at David Gilliland Racing with Hailie Deegan as driver.


And this is where the stars align! The world is small because former teammates in K&N Pro Series at Bill McAnally Racing Hailie Deegan and Derek Kraus are still NCWTS opponents today and will each have one of the Hillman brothers as crew chief! Mike, Jr. with Hailie and Mark with Derek!

Let's talk about Mark now. He too became a crew chief after climbing the ranks one by one within the family Hillman Racing team. Mechanic, then car chief and since 2014 he has been a crew chief. 141 Cup races, 7 in NXS where he worked this year at MBM Motorsports, the team led by Carl Long with Timmy Hill as driver. 


But he also held the position of crew chief in the K&N series and a few years ago in NCWTS in 2012 and 2013, still in the family team. This return to the 3rd national division of NASCAR within the McAnally-Hilgemann Racing team should allow him to experience success with the young Derek Kraus. That’s all we want. Which of the two Hillman brothers will allow Derek or Hailie to be the first to win a race this year? Whatever people say, whatever they think it's obvious that Derek and Hailie's careers have been closely linked since 2018. They are the future of NASCAR.


A quick word on last year's race at Richmond, Derek had had a tough race where he couldn't do better than 23rd. Yet the race had started well as he finished 6th in the first stage. But his Toyota lacked endurance on the long runs. Derek will start the race from a distant 29th position with his Tundra in the Incredible Bank colors. But we know his “never give up” spirit. And Richmond is the type of oval that suits him perfectly. It's a bit like a big Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, CA.

Finally, it should be noted that a former opponent of Derek in K&N West will make his NCWTS debut at Richmond. He's a guy that I appreciate very much, just like his mother Teresa with whom we share the same battle with the disease. I'm talking about Keith McGee, of course. Follow the Reaume Brothers Racing #33.


GO Derek GO !!


Toyota Care 250 (#NASCAR)


Entry list, starting lineup and much more here:


Race live this Saturday on FS1 at 1:30 p.m. ET



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