Deegan and Zamora can't capitalize among Meridian chaos
The two ladies of the NASCAR K&N West series, Hailie Deegan and Brittney Zamora, ran competitively in contention for the top-3 before being involved in contacts.
Last night Meridian Speedway hosted one of the craziest rounds of the entire NASCAR K&N West season.
Despite running at the very top for most of the race, the two ladies on track Hailie Deegan and Brittney Zamora were forced to end their races far from the top of the standings due to unfortunate circumstances.
Hailie Deegan made her on-track return after the Getaway round in late August and, notably, made her return to the Meridian venue after her breakthrough first victory in the NASCAR K&N series one year ago. Since the start of this year's event, she proved to be determinate for a back to back win, signing the fastest time in practice: "As soon as we get late in the run with old tires, that's when we start getting faster" - said a confident Hailie after the session.
Jagger Jones scored the pole position, while the #19 upcoming NASCAR star took a convincing third place for the race starting grid, with her teammate and championship rival Derek Kraus forced to chase her from seventh.
The other lady of the K&N West Series, Brittney Zamora, had another good qualifying session and took the start of the race from the sixth position.
The 208 laps of the Napa Auto Parts Idaho event opened with a good sprint by pole-sitter Jagger Jones, followed by Hailie Deegan in second. The #99 car driven by Brittney Zamora moved up immediately by two positions, bringing herself up to fourth. She attacked Devin Dodson during the opening laps and claimed the third place on lap 8 with a great passing maneuver on the inside of her rival.
The first caution of the evening came on lap 26, with Derek Kraus then able to move up some position at the restart: Kraus won the battle with Zamora for P3, but a second yellow flag came out a few laps later when the #38 car spun on track.
On lap 42, when the green flag was waved again, Kraus was on full attack mode on Hailie Deegan, while Brittney Zamora was demoted to P5 after being passed by an aggressive Todd Souza.
Hailie Deegan, under Kraus' pressure, powerfully defended her second place after a prolonged battle, but Jagger Jones took advantage from that fight to increase his race leadership.
The driver of the #77 car Takuma Koga was one lap down when he spun right in front of Deegan and Kraus, creating a dangerous and chaotic situation for the two rival-teammates that were luckily able to avoid the crash.
Derek Kraus had once again a good restart, moved past Deegan and immediately tried to attack Jones but was ultimately not close enough to the leader for attempting an overtake on him. Deegan lost ground from the top two positions while Brittney Zamora defended from Huddleston.
Fortunately, the two ladies reduced the gap from the leading drivers when a caution was called on lap 115. Kraus proved once again to be the master of restarts and passed from the outside Jagger Jones for the first leadership change. Behind them, Deegan kept her position, while Huddleston moved up on Zamora, before another caution was immediately called.
The convincing Deegan's race suffered then a big blow when Huddleston attacked and passed her at the restart, with the 18-year old lady not accepting the outcome and challenged back the #9 rival, as they switched again positions. Trevon Huddleston did not give up as well and tried one more attack which caused an ill-fated contact. The #19 Toyota spun and the girl was forced to resume her race from the bottom of the field with a damaged car.
With 56 lap to go, a red flag halted the race when David Dodson destroyed his #27 car, scattering debris all over the track. The race resumed with 45 laps left, with a very consistent Brittney Zamora still fighting for the top tree places.
The battled between Zamora and Huddleston continued with the two driver swapping positions after another caution restart.
A second red flag was waved with only two laps to the go, as the #6 car spun after Jones had attempted to make the decisive move on Kraus for the victory, causing a massive pileup which involved almost half of drivers on track. Brittney Zamora was able to avoid the damaged vehicles, but was forced to give up some positions, ultimately costing her a possible top-tree finish.
Derek Kraus won at the over-time and extended once again his champioship advantage, followed by Todd Souza and Trevor Huddleston. Zamora finished a very positive race with an eighth place: a bittersweet top-ten for the 20-year old American who now sits fifth in the championship standings.
The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place in Roseville, California, on Saturday 12th October.
Ph: Meg Oliphant/NASCAR