August 1, 2016 — The history of the annual Larry Detjens Memorial race at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wisconsin dates back to 1981 when Dick Trickle took the checkered flag for the first of his three wins in the race that has since produced a long list of distinguished winners. Fourteen-year-old Derek Kraus added his name to that list on Saturday, and in doing so made history as the youngest driver ever to win the 125-lap event.
“It feels really good to win this race,” said Kraus, who will turn 15 in September. “It’s one of the toughest tracks in the country, there’s very little grip…it feels great to race against all these great people and win.”
Kraus qualified second, then finished fifth in the 12-lap heat race earlier in the evening on Saturday. He took over the race lead with 23 laps to go, then held off charges from veteran drivers to win the race. “Darin, my spotter, did a great job coaching me through the wrecks that happened in front of me,” Derek said. “He really kept me calm through the entire race.”
“I knew it was going to get a little dicey there in the later stages,” Derek continued. “Every driver on the track wanted to win, because of the respect that is earned adding your name to the list of winners in the 36 year history of the Detjen’s Memorial race. Everyone started losing patience towards the end of the race. I just stayed calm and focused on having really good restarts.”
A native of Stratford, Wisconsin, this is Derek’s second super late model win and fifth top ten finish this year at State Park Speedway. His first win came in the Flip Merwin Memorial on June 16. This is also his first win since being announced as one of seven drivers in the 2016 Ganassi Racing Gen G program, Chip Ganassi Racing’s formal method of identifying and assisting North America’s top up and coming race car drivers.
Derek will return to action quickly with the ARCA Midwest Tour in the Potawatomi Dixieland 250 at Wisconsin International Raceway on Tuesday, August 2nd. Through the first five ARCA Midwest Tour races of the year, Derek has recorded three top ten finishes and is ranked 5th in the driver point standings.
Credit: Richard Slifkin