SEGUIN, Texas — With more and more tracks hosting their season openers around the states of Texas and Louisiana, enthusiasm among eager racers who've yet to strap in is running high. Down in South Texas, there's a young man on the cusp of his first Factory Stock win, and his quest starts this weekend.
For 21-year-old third generation racer Kasey Krauss, competing in this Saturday's inaugural Spring Green at I-37 Speedway is a chance to continue what he developed last year. While he didn't quite make it into Victory Lane, he earned eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 21 starts.
“We had a few tough nights, but we were pretty consistent the whole year long,” Krauss said. “That's what we set out to do last season, and we made some good gains in that department. This year, we can take what we learned in 2022 and maybe find that little bit of extra speed we need to win a feature.
“Besides some Heat race wins and a B Main, I haven't won anything yet. I've got quite a few second-place finishes, in fact last year was probably the best season I've had to date. So we're getting closer, now we have to work on taking that next step. That's the big focus for 2023, and it starts this Saturday.”
Now in his sixth year of racing, Krauss carries on a family tradition started by his grandfather.
“Just about everybody has raced in my family, including my Dad,” he explained. “I got my feet wet a little behind the wheel part-time in 2017, then went for it the next season. I started out in Sport Compacts. A buddy of mine had a car, so we bought it from him and ran it for a couple of seasons.
“Then we saw that Joshua Sewell was selling a car, so we jumped on that deal. We picked it up and I've been driving it ever since. So I made the jump from little cars to Factory Stock, and there's a learning curve. You don't just land in Victory Lane right away; there is so much to learn before you're ready.”
When you look at the drivers within Factory Stock ranks at I-37, you'll see a high level of competition.
“There's a lot of stiff competition all throughout South Texas,” Krauss said. “I'd say I-37 is a great example of that, because we have guys like 2022 champion Jared Maupin among others. There has always been a lot of heavy hitters at I-37; if you don't get your setup right, it's going to be a hard night.”
Here's the cool thing about what Krauss (and his Dad) have been able to achieve in this tough division.
“This is an older car we got from Josh Sewell,” he explained. “It's had all the updates by Mark Opiela, my Dad's best friend. Originally it may have been a home-built car, but Mark has worked hard to get it modernized for us. It's now a very competitive machine, and I feel it still has the potential to win.”
Along with his raw natural talent behind the wheel and updated race car, Krauss also has a few key people and valued sponsors that make his program so successful.
“First off, I need to thank my Mom and Dad for all they do for me,” Krauss said. “They support this in a big way and I couldn't do it without them. I also want to thank my Nanny, family and friends for their support of my racing efforts.
“I'm blessed to have some great sponsors behind me, including Dallis Refrigeration, All In Designs, Daddy Franks Classic Car Wash, Mark Opiela, Russell Vickery and Johnson Supply. I appreciate each of them and will do my best to put them in Victory Lane at some point this season.”
If that fickle Spring weather in South Texas allows Ray Doyon III and his staff to go ahead with the inaugural Spring Green, Krauss will embark on his quest to visit Victory Lane.
“The main thing we want to do this year is to continue that streak of consistent runs,” he concluded. “If we can find a little more speed and keep doing what we've been doing, I think our turn will come. I just really love the whole process of learning, working with my Dad and seeing our big extended family.
“At I-37, everybody has a lot of fun while they try to get some good results. This year, we'll also try to brand out a little and run at a few new tracks. But for now, obviously the goal is to get that first win. When Dad first got me into this sport, he stressed the importance of having fun. I still do every time.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Rachel Plant/Cotton Bowl Speedway