Drive to the Title: Separating the Field

In order to be crowned a NASCAR champion in Arizona on Nov. 10, the youngsters first must tame the speeds of World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

The K&N Pro Series West drives into their only back-to-back weekend of the 2019 season on Saturday in Illinois at one of the fastest tracks in the series. The one and a quarter-mile track is fairly similar to ISM Raceway in terms of length and speed, which will hold the championship race. Not a single driver in the series has ever raced at ISM Raceway in a K&N Pro Series car, so making notes and strides this weekend could be a significant factor in who claims the title.

The name of the race is the Monaco Cocktails Gateway Classic 125 which is hilarious because the majority of the full-time drivers can’t have a cocktail.

Trevor Huddleston dominated his way to his second victory of the season last Saturday night at Evergreen Speedway. Not only did Huddleston gain ground on points leader, Derek Kraus, but he also passed Hailie Deegan for second place in the standings.

The 23-year-old not only can have a Monaco Cocktail, but is also is the oldest of the four championship favorites and claimed his first career K&N West victory at his home track of Irwindale Speedway in May. Huddleston has grown up racing late models in California and claimed three track championships at Irwindale. The third-generation driver started racing at age 13 at Irwindale in Bandoleros.

β€œHuge, huge, huge momentum,” Huddleston told NASCAR.com. β€œThis is one of the bigger tracks, I guess you could say, going to Gateway where that track is even bigger, I think it gives us that push and momentum we need. I’m really looking forward to next week. I’m excited we don’t have to wait too long to race these cars again.”

This weekend’s race at Gateway will once again be a combination race between the East and West Series. The only other combination race on the schedule was at Iowa where Kraus and Huddleston were the only West Series regulars to finish in the top ten.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Points as of Aug.17

If trouble finds title competitors Hailie Deegan and Jagger Jones again while Kraus and Huddleston finish in the top ten, it could create a hole separating the latter duo as the clear-cut favorites to wrap up the 2019 West Championship.

The two combination race locations, Iowa and Gateway, are more similar to ISM Raceway than any other track on the circuit making this an important place to make notes not just for your team, but on what your competitors do poorly before the championship race.

Last year’s Gateway combination race was won by current West Series points leader, Derek Kraus, who lost the East Series points lead in the last 2019 combination race at Iowa. Last year, Kraus took the lead with 37 laps to go and held off the field on his way to victory. Kraus is the only driver in the field vying to be the first driver to win both the East and West Championship in the same year.

There are only five races to go in the championship hunt as the trip to Arizona draws nearer every week. Be sure to keep up with a new Drive to the Title notebook before every race weekend here at Sports360AZ. Join the conversation on Twitter with @Sports360AZ, @devonhenry77, and #KNWest.