AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 03: Derek Kraus, driver of the #77 Western States Flooring Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Craftsman 150 at Phoenix Raceway on November 03, 2023 in Avondale, Arizona.
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Kaulig Racing Signs Derek Kraus For Six Cup Starts

Derek Kraus, who has bounced around NASCAR's lower levels over the last few years, now knows his next big opportunity, or part of it, anyway.

Kraus will have a huge chance to prove himself, as will drive in a six-race schedule in the NASCAR Cup series. Kraus has never been behind the wheel of a Cup car, so this is his biggest opportunity to date.

Kraus will step behind the wheel of the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro for Kaulig Racing. The first of those starts will be at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend.

In a press release obtained by Toby Christie from tobychristie.com, Kraus thanked Kaulig Racing's Chris Rice and Matt Kaulig for the opportunity.

"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!" Kraus said. "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."

The rest of Kraus' starts will come throughout the season, with entries at Phoenix Raceway on March 10th, Kansas Speedway (May), Darlington Raceway (May), World Wide Technology Raceway (June) and then the season finale at Phoenix in November.

Kraus had a great run in the former K&N Pro Series, winning a West Series Championship for Bill McAnally, who eventually put him behind the wheel in the Truck Series for the first time in 2018. Kraus later became the first full-time driver for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in the No. 19 NAPA Truck in 2020.

He spent the next couple of years racing there before getting replaced by Christian Eckes before the 2023 season.

He has since been part-time racing in the Craftsman Truck Series and Xfinity Series. Kaulig put him behind the wheel in the Xfinity Series for eight races in 2023. He was very impressive, as he finished top 10 three times and also had an average finish of 16.6.

Rice, the president of Kaulig Racing, is ready to see what Kraus can do for the team in the Cup Series, or that's the sentiment he shared in a press release from the team.

"We're excited to have Derek Kraus make his first Cup start with us at Kaulig Racing," Rice said. "Not only did he practice in the No. 16 last year for A.J. Allmendinger, but Derek is our simulator driver who 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."

No pun intended, but from one Kraus to another, good luck Derek.

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