NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Derek Kraus will move into the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series full-time this year.
Kraus, 18, will compete with McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in the No. 19 Toyota Tundra. The team is newly formed and will have an alliance with the 2018 Truck Series championship organization, Hattori Racing Enterprises.
McAnally has built a championship-winning organization (Bill McAnally Racing) in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West where Kraus competed for the last three years, winning 10 races and the 2019 title. Over the last two seasons, McAnally also fielded Kraus in a limited number of Truck Series races.
“I’m excited about this opportunity to partner with Bill Hilgemann and compete in the Truck Series on a full-time basis,” said McAnally. “We have been working hard to put things in place to move Derek to the next level in NASCAR. It’s been great to be part of his development in the K&N Series these past three years. We look forward to moving ahead in advancing his career.
“The move is a big challenge and we are grateful for the opportunity to form an alliance with HRE. We’re excited to be working with a team that has their winning record in the series. Our relationship with such a strong Toyota program will be beneficial to us and we see it as a key to accelerating our program.”
Bill Hilgemann is a businessman from Stratford, Wisconsin, Kraus’ hometown.
“We’re proud to announce the formation of this team,” said Hilgemann. “Billy McAnally has a great reputation in the industry and I’m pleased to put this program together with him. Derek is a talented young driver and we are excited to have him behind the wheel.”
Kevin Bellicourt will be Kraus’s crew chief while also continuing to serve as the general manager of Bill McAnally Racing. Bellicourt will work closely with officials from Hattori, including crew chief Scott Zipadelli and general manager Mike Greci who believes the alliance will be a benefit to both teams.
Kraus has five career starts in the Truck Series with two top-10 finishes. He earned a career-best finish of eighth at both Phoenix (2018) and Dover (2019).
“Moving up to the Truck Series will be a big learning experience for me,” said Kraus. “I am looking forward to continuing to work with Kevin Bellicourt and the team. It’s going to be a fun year.”