Deegan Rewrites NASCAR Record Books with NAPA Idaho 208 Win
History was made Saturday, September 29, as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West roared onto the asphalt quarter-mile at Meridian Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208. Joining the rising stars of NASCAR, the Teleperformance Claimer Stocks, PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Modifieds, and Junior Stingers filled an action-packed Saturday night slate of short track racing.
Fifteen strong NASCAR K&N Pro Series West racers rolled to green for the fourth NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208. Pole sitter Derek Kraus led the field through lap one with point leader Derek Thorn and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Hailie Deegan in tow. The man on the move early was Cole Rouse, who muscled his NAPA Filters Toyota around the inside line to claim the runner up spot on lap thirty.
As Kraus and Rouse sped away from the field Deegan began to free fall through the pack. From third the Temecula, California racer was shuffled all the way back to seventh by lap fifty. The next fifty laps saw Deegan settle into her mid pack spot as she plotted her move forward.
A lap 103 restart saw Deegan lined up outside row three when the green flag waved. As the battle for third stacked the frontrunners up Deegan forced her way through the middle and moved up to fourth on the back straightaway. Deegan’s charge forward continued a dozen laps later as she stormed inside Thorn to take third. With the championship leader in her rearview mirror, the teenaged California driver turned her sights on Kraus and Rouse, the weekend’s two most dominant racers.
Kraus navigated traffic best, and the Stratford, Wisconsin native piloted his NAPA Auto Parts Toyota to its largest lead of the evening. Kraus looked to cruise to the checkers until a lapped car spun in front of him. Kraus slammed on his brakes and gently climbed up the turn three concrete to make it around his stricken competitor, but the maneuvering cost him both first and second positions.
Rouse inherited the lead with Kraus’ misfortunes, and with a dozen laps left someone other than Kraus led the field to green. Rouse got the jump on now-second place Deegan and sped to a half second lead. But Deegan had speed in reserve, and she closed on Rouse until she arrived on his rear bumper as the white flag waved. Contact pitched Rouse to the outside, which allowed Deegan to cut low and roar down the back stretch to claim the lead and, two corners later, the first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory for a female racer. Rouse gathered his machine to take second and Kraus brought his entry home third.
“This has to be the best day of my life,” Deegan said as she collected the miniature water tower trophy. “It’s just amazing…we did it!”
The next chapter in Meridian Speedway history is written this Saturday, October 6, as the quarter-mile oval hosts Pepsi Championship Night. The Mountain Dew Interstate Winged Sprintcars, Pepsi Crate Cars and Idaho Sprintcar and Roadster League Super Sixes, Domino’s Legends, Project Filter Pro-4s, Coors Super Stocks, Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets, and Bombers race to settle their seasons. General admission to Saturday’s full night of short track action is $11.50 for adults, $9 for seniors and military members, and $6.50 for kids 7-11. Gates open at 4:45 p.m. and racing goes green at 6:45 p.m. Keep pace with all the late season happenings at the Concrete Jungle by visiting meridianspeedway.com and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 for exclusive text updates. We’ll see you for Pepsi Championship Night at your NASCAR Home Track under the big yellow water tower, Meridian Speedway.