ROOKIE REIGN!

Derek Kraus

Derek Kraus

TA2 driver, Derek Kraus, driving No.11 Shockwave Camaro won the Sonoma Raceway round of the Trans Am West Coast Series. The 17-year old, who actually had the fastest overall time in qualifying-1:38.183, had the pole position in the TA2 class, but was gridded fourth overall, in a split start, behind the top three TA cars for the start. Even with the split, the teenager ultimately worked his way to the lead which he held to the finish. Finishing second was TA driver and fellow Shockwave teammate, Chris Cook/No.15 Camaro.

Frank Emmett & Michelle Nagai

Frank Emmett & Michelle Nagai

The TA pole sitter, Michelle Nagai/No.72 Berkeley Jet Drive Inc. Corvette led the first lap, but experienced rear-end failure going into Turn One on Lap Two and was towed in. She was excited over her pole, but rueful that it was so short-lived. Frank Emmett, former owner of the car, came to watch. He said he was “proud of her and what’s she’s done. Finally, someone who can drive the car to its potential.” Emmett’s best lap time on this course was a 1:35.

TA West Coast points leader, Simon Gregg/No.59 Derhaag Motorsports Corvette, who gridded second, took the TA and overall lead. Kraus was “snookered” at the start, bested by Anthony Honeywell/No.76 TA2 Honeywell Competition Camaro. Kraus said “I waited for the green. We were three-wise going into Turn 1.” Soon after TA driver Michael Fine/No.66 AGS-Architectural Glass Systems Camaro lost brakes and pitted to retire. Fine had gridded at the back due to switching to his spare car, after missing practice and qualifying on Saturday due to two separate mechanical problems.

Michelle Nagai

Michelle Nagai

Just prior to the Safety Car for Nagai, Kraus passed Honeywell and led for two laps, before Honeywell again repassed. Kraus retook the TA2 lead on Lap 7 and the overall lead on Lap 9, and never looked back. It was confusing to those watching, as Kraus’ transponder failed and he wasn’t being timed. Even the announcers had to scramble to sort it out. The race ran 38 laps, and short of its 70-minute limit.

Simon Gregg

Anthony Honeywell No.76 Camaro

Michael Fine No.66 Camaro

Left to Right: Simon Gregg, Anthony Honeywell, and Michael Fine.

The race was electronically challenging. The track timing loops weren’t all functioning properly, one or more cars had no transponder signal, and the live T&S was never fully accurate during the race. The official results will be posted on the Trans Am website when available. The loops will all be replaced Wednesday before the big NASCAR weekend. The track is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Simon Gregg and Steve Goldman

Simon Gregg and Steve Goldman

Veteran Gregg won the TA class, finishing third overall, stretching his West Coast points lead. He was the only TA on course at the Checkered Flag, which was thrown earlier than the 40 laps/70 minutes limit. Finishing second in TA was Steve Goldman/No.13 LIG Racing Corvette, who pitted prior to the checkered as he had an oil line break and the oily tires scared him. At the start, Goldman was at the back of the grid by choice.

Chris Cook and Derek Kraus

Kraus won the TA2 class. Chris Cook, No.15 Shockwave Camaro, was second overall and in TA2 class. Cook had been Kraus’ driver coach when Kraus first came to the K&N Series three years ago. Like Anna sang in the musical, “If you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught.” That’s also when Kraus met David Smith, team owner of Shockwave. Cook has often coached NASCAR drivers, and has coached drivers for this upcoming NASCAR race, including the Penske drivers recently.

Michael Mihld, Derek Kraus and Chris Cook

Michael Mihld, Derek Kraus and Chris Cook

Third in TA2 was Michael Mihld/No.55 Michael Mihld Racing Camaro. Kraus said he “loves road courses” which is a good thing for a budding NASCAR driver. He’ll be putting that love and skill to good use next Saturday for the K&N Carneros 200 race at Sonoma Raceway, as part of the big NASCAR weekend. Kraus has been with Bill McAnally Racing for three years, and has already run two NASCAR truck races this year and two more are on the docket. He told PA announcer, Dave Vodden, that he plans to work his way up the NASCAR top tier to Cup racing.

Brad McAllister/No.24 www.PortlandImplantDentistry.com Mustang was fast, but a bit rambunctious; so he was penalized 40 seconds for several on-track incidents. He is credited with a seventh TA2 finish,

Roger Eagleton, Clark Nunes and Joe Bogetich

Roger Eagleton, Clark Nunes and Joe Bogetich

Clark Nunes/No.79 Premier Homes Camaro won the GT class, followed by Roger Eagleton/No.21 Five Star Property Management Company Mustang in second and Joe Bogetich/No.65 Westover Controls Camaro in third. Eagleton admitted he lured Nunes to the race by telling him if he got a better car, he’d win. Truer Words….Nunes said he had a perfect car, which needed no adjustments.

No.8 Crew Member and Oli Thordarson

No.8 Crew Member and Oli Thordarson

The SGT class added a second car Sunday morning – Carl Rydquist/No.8 Prototype Development Group FFR GTM. It is a kit car, and Rydquist, who originally hailed from Sweden before moving to Pleasanton CA, races it in the USTCC (United States Touring Car Championship) which is racing this weekend with NASA. Rydquist had the pole in that race, so he missed the Victory Circle ceremonies. He was gridded very last for the TA race, and ended up winning the SGT class, finishing fourth overall, right behind Gregg. Being a late entry in a brand new series brought some unexpected challenges, in addition to late entry fees. Rydquist had to change stickers and tires on his car, to run Trans Am. Easier said than done. Fortunately, with the help of the Flying Lizards race team which is based at the track, Rydquist was able to find Pirelli tires in the parking lot, and the crew swapped out the stickers. Second in SGT class was Oli Thordarson/No.22 Alvaka Networks Corvette – in the Shockwave stable.

The Shockwave stable came home with one first and two seconds.

Shockwave Stable

Shockwave Stable

ROOKIE RULES!

Derek Kraus

Derek Kraus

Young Derek Kraus of Wisconsin has the pole position for Sunday’s West Coast Round 4 of the Trans Am Series, presented by Pirelli at Sonoma Raceway, in his first-ever time in a Trans Am race car. His lap, which was for the TA2 class as well as overall, was 1:38.183. That time almost wasn’t recorded as the transponder in the No.11 Shockwave Camaro was intermittent. It had to be changed, during the qualifying session, as TA rules require that qualifying times all have to be through the same transponder system – they can’t be recorded manually. And this was the second change for the 17-year old driver Saturday afternoon, as he had to quickly change cars after the afternoon practice session as the engine blew in No.5 Shockwave Camaro. He’s a quick study.

Derek Kraus in No.5 Shockwave Camaro

Derek Kraus in No.5 Shockwave Camaro

Kraus was fastest in the afternoon practice with a lap of 1:38.389. That session had only ten cars. The high school senior is competing in his first Trans Am race, and it comes with help from Shockwave team owner, Dave Smith, who offered the ride to Kraus so he could get more track time in preparation for next weekend’s NASCAR K&N West Series race. Kraus is currently leading the points in that series, and also in the K&N East Series. Smith further offered his own race car to Kraus for qualifying, when the No.5 Camaro failed. The crew scrambled for sheets of foam for Kraus, who is about a foot shorter than Smith. There had been no time for a seat change. At this point, Kraus doesn’t know if he’ll stick with the padding or do a seat change for Sunday’s race. While the purpose is to get track time for NASCAR next week, Kraus said every seat he’s in he wants to win. so he’ll be trying for a Sunday victory.

Derek Kraus's qualifying Shockwave Camaro

Derek Kraus’s qualifying Shockwave Camaro

This is the first time Trans Am has raced at Sonoma Raceway since 2004, and this time there will be four classes – Trans Am West, TA2, GT and SGT. The TA class is the Trans Am we knew and loved back in the day. It’s back with 800 hp cars with no electronic driver aids. The TA2 Class is basically hot rod muscle cars, and the largest subscribed class within the series, as it is more affordable. GT is limited-preparation production street cars, the most affordable class within Trans Am. SGT is the Super GT class, with high end production cars with few limitations. They all run Pirelli tires. Their races are sprints, 70 minutes long or 100 miles in length, whichever comes first. The drivers this weekend come mainly from the West Coast, but as far flung as Florida, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Michelle Nagai

Michelle Nagai

Michelle Nagai No.72 Corvette

Michelle Nagai No.72 Corvette

Second on the grid, starting besides Kraus, will be Michelle Nagai of Loomis CA, who had the top time in the TA class, of 1:38.583, driving No.72 Berkeley Jet Drive, Inc Corvette. She was excited about her ‘first real pole’ in the car, which she bought this season from retiring driver, Frank Emmett. Nagai said she’s been working on tweaking it all year and especially this weekend, and she’s feeling more comfortable with the car. She said Emmett been helpful with the transition, and might come out Sunday for the race.

Trans Am points leader, Simon Gregg/No.59 Derhaag Motorsports Camaro was third fastest overall, at 1:38.713. The only other TA racing this weekend is Steve Goldman/No.13 LIG Racing Corvette, and he starts 4th overall.

Clark Nunes No.79 Camaro

Clark Nunes No.79 Camaro

The fastest GT car was Clark Nunes of San Jose CA with a time of 1:45.981 in No.79 Premier Homes Camaro. Oli Thordarson of Trabuco Canyon CA was the only SGT car, and his time was 1:46.306 in No.22 Corvette.

Several cars had transponder problems and fast Brad McAllister of Oregon was one in No.24 www.PortlandimplantDentistry.com Mustang. So he’ll plead his case with the Trans Am stewards.

Michael Fine No.66 Camaro

Michael Fine No.66 Camaro

The qualifying weather was mild and sunny, 70 degrees F, with a brisk breeze. It had been cool (60F) and foggy for the morning 40-minute practice session. Morning practice was relatively uneventful, save TA driver Michael Fine/No.66 TAAGS-Arcitecture Glass Systms Chevrolet Camaro being towed in with a lot of smoke. His car remained in the garage for the afternoon sessions.

Roger Eagleton No.21 Mustang

Roger Eagleton No.21 Mustang

Anthony Honeywell/No.76 Honeywell Competition/TFB Perform Chevrolet Camaro was tops in the morning, at 1:38.216.He pipped Kraus at the last minute The top TA was Gregg, fourth overall. Roger Eagleton/No.21 Five Star Prop Mgmt/Energy Real Estate Ford Mustang was the top GT car. It was a last-minute substitution for Eagleton, who had been scheduled to drive No.98 Mustang. The lone SGT driver, Oli Thordarson/No.22 Chevrolet Camaro was seen on course, but had zero laps.

Local champion, Greg Pickett, had to withdraw prior to the event due to ongoing problems locating engine parts after his two earlier failures at Thunderhill earlier in the spring, forcing him to miss the rounds at Auto Club Speedway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Pickett is second on the all-time list of Trans Am starts. This leaves points leader Simon Gregg/No.59 without his strongest competitor. Gregg runs the entire Trans Am Series as well as the West Series. On the West Coast, he will be battling local drivers. Gregg originally hadn’t intended to run the full West Series, but after doing so well at first, he continued on and has now decided to go for the Championship. With Pickett absent, and Fine’s participation questionable, Gregg’s main competition will be Nagai.

Cameron Parsons No.83 Camaro

Cameron Parsons No.83 Camaro

Trans-Am qualifying was split into two groups – Three classes, TA/SGT/GT for the first 15 minutes, and the 13 TA2 cars for fifteen minutes. The TA2 session was cut short by a red flag for Cameron Parsons/No.83 Parsons Racing Camaro. He lost a suspension piece in Turn 7 and hit the wall hard in Turn 9. He is unhurt. Michele Abate/No.30 Grr Racing Chevrolet Camaro also had a throttle break coming out of Turn 11, and coasted towards the Starter stand. She said it could be fixed. The field pitted and then went out for their last five minutes. It’s unknown at this point if Parsons can repair the car. People had started arriving with parts, but it did look severe.

All the qualifying information is provisional, based on screen captures. The qualifying will be final Sunday morning.

Sidebar: The Trans Am Series is running with a NASA amateur event, and among the many entries in the multiple classes and events was a NASCAR driver – Current K&N West Driver, Hailee Deegan in a Miata. She’s won two races this season and currently is second in the standings, behind Kraus. They are teammates on the Bill Mcanally Race Team. No doubt she also is getting track time on the full road course prior to next week’s big NASCAR weekend which features the K&N Series West as well as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The track is going all out on a blowout event as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Another familiar name was Mike Bliss, who raced in all three top tier NASCAR Series, and was the 2002 Truck Series Champion. He’s racing his No.31 Legends car.

Sunday’s Trans Am race starts at 12:45 pm and will stream on MotorTrend TV.