Kraus Lands Six-Race Cup Series Deal With Kaulig


Derek Kraus will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut with Kaulig Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the first of six scheduled races in the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

LEXINGTON, N.C. – Derek Kraus will get his first opportunity to step up to NASCAR’s premier level this season with Kaulig Racing.

Announced Thursday, Kraus will make six NASCAR Cup Series starts this year behind the wheel of Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, serving as the team’s “all-star car” in Cup Series competition.

The Stratford, Wis., native will kick off his Cup Series slate with team owner Matt Kaulig at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway on March 3 during the Pennzoil 400 at the 1.5-mile oval.

Western States Flooring, a flooring contractor based in Chandler, Ariz., will back the Las Vegas effort for the 22-year-old, who competed in eight NASCAR Xfinity Series races last season with the Kaulig team.

Kraus earned three top-10 finishes in his limited Xfinity Series schedule with Kaulig Racing and is eager to rejoin the team for his maiden voyage at the top level of the sport.

“I’m really excited to make my first Cup Series start with Kaulig Racing, the team that I also made my Xfinity Series debut with!” said Kraus. “I’m thankful to Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice for believing in me, as well as Western States Flooring, a partner that has supported me throughout my career. I can’t wait to get to work with Travis Mack’s group and see what we can do in Las Vegas.”

In addition to Las Vegas, which will be Kraus’ Cup Series debut, he’ll also compete in Kaulig’s No. 16 Camaro ZL1 at Arizona’s Phoenix Raceway on March 10; Kansas Speedway on May 5; Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on May 12; World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill., on June 2; and the Cup Series season finale at Phoenix on Nov. 10.

It’s a big step for Kraus, who got a taste of the Cup Series Next Gen car when he practiced and qualified the No. 16 Camaro ZL1 last year at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, while teammate A.J. Allmendinger raced in the July 29 Xfinity Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

However, it’s a moment that Kaulig Racing President Chris Rice believes Kraus – who regularly does simulator work through the week for the organization – is ready to excel in.

“We’re excited to have Derek Kraus make his first Cup start with us at Kaulig Racing,” said Rice. “Not only did he practice in the No. 16 last year for A.J. Allmendinger, but Derek is our simulator driver that helps get our setups ready each week.

“We know what Derek is capable of, and we can’t wait to see what he can do starting in Las Vegas.”

Las Vegas will mark Kraus’ first scheduled NASCAR competition of the season, as he didn’t compete in any of the three national series races at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway during Speedweeks and isn’t entered for either the Xfinity Series or NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway this weekend.

His best national series finish last year was eighth on three occasions: twice in the Xfinity Series at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas, and once in the Truck Series at The Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile, Kraus’ home track.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.