McAnally Racing drivers mingle with fans ahead of Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Douglas County Speedway
Two young men clad in blue shirts sat behind a table in the Clint Newell Auto Group parking lot Thursday afternoon and within a few minutes people started flocking around them.
Todd Gilliland and Derek Kraus didn’t look very intimidating, but on Saturday the two are sure to intimidate when they face each other in the Clint Newell 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Douglas County Speedway.
“I don’t have a driver’s license,” the 15-year-old Kraus said. Instead he learned to drive race cars from his father and started out racing Go Karts when he was younger.
Kraus sits in third place of the overall standings, following his Bill McAnally Racing teammates Gilliland and Chris Eggleston.
Gilliland got his driver’s license a few years ago, but had some advice for Kraus.
“Don’t tell them you’re a race car driver,” the 17-year-old said. “They get scared when you tell them.”
But keeping his race car driving a secret might be hard to do as Kraus’ star is on the rise.
He has proven himself to be a great value to the team as he leads the Sonoco Rookie of the Year Award standings, five points ahead of Will Rodgers.
“I like being a part of the series,” Kraus said. “I get to see a lot of new tracks and that’s been really fun.”
Douglas County Speedway will be another new track for the young driver, although his teammates are sure to have some advice for him.
“It’s mostly flat,” Gilliland said.
Eggleston did not make it to Thursday’s meet-and-greet, but will be present for today’s fan appreciation gala from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Douglas County Speedway pits.
At the event fans will have the opportunity to meet all the drivers, see the cars and tour a transporter.
“It’s good to be back in Roseburg,” McAnally said. “This is our only stop in Oregon and we’re excited to bring NASCAR to the fans.”
This will be the 15th time the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West comes to Roseburg.
“I went to the fair and won this Toyota Racing hat and tickets to the race,” NASCAR fan Trygve Nagel said. “I’m excited to watch the driving. I’ve watched them on TV, but never in real life.”
Nagel has seen races in Roseburg before and has plans to attend the Family Fun Night at the Speedway on Sept. 16.
Roseburg is hosting the 11th race in the 14-race NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
Pole position will be one of the most important factors at DCS. Half of the races have been won from the pole position and no driver has ever won from outside of the top five starting positions.
Last year, Gilliland took the pole at Roseburg and led for a race-high 114 laps, before getting tangled up with Eggleston. Ryan Partridge won the race last year, while Gilliland and Eggleston finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Partridge’s win was also the first time in six years that a BMR racer did not get the checkered flag. Partridge will not be racing in Roseburg this year.
Roseburg is a battleground for the championship this year.
Eggleston won his fourth race of the season at Washington’s Evergreen Speedway on Aug. 12 to move within two points of Gilliland.
Gilliland, who’s the defending champion, holds the lead with four races remaining as both racers are looking for their second series win.