Dylan Kwasniewski caught the eye of Greg Pursley while racing at Havasu 95 Speedway in Arizona. Kwasniewski won a truck race and a late model race at the track on the same night. Pursley, the leader in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings, was a guest of the track that night.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Driver Dylan Kwasniewski
After winning both races, Kwasniewski took photos with Pursley. They exchanged information and Pursley told Kwansniewski's mom if her son ever wanted to do some testing with his team to give him a call.
Kwasniewski finished fourth in his K&N Pro Series West debut at All American Speedway
"I would often have to go out to Lake Havasu to run some late model races just to get some experience under my belt," said the 16-year-old Kwasniewski, who is still in high school and lives in Las Vegas. "They're a about 45 minutes away from Havasu. They would often go out to the track and watch some races."
Kwasniewski's mom, Jennifer, took Pursley up on the offer and her son tested with Pursley's team, Gene Price Motorsports, in Las Vegas. Pursley and Price, who have their team based in Parker, Ariz., were so impressed after the test, they decided to add him as a second driver to their K&N Pro Series West team.
The only snag was that Kwasniewski had to wait until the second race of the West Series to make his debut. He was only 15 when the season started and not old enough to begin his NASCAR career in the touring series. NASCAR changed the age limit after the start of the West Series season to 15 years old, but it was too late for Kwasniewski.
Dylan Kwasniewski has enjoyed success on the short tracks on the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series.
It was worth the wait though. Kwasniewski finished fourth in his K&N Pro Series West debut at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., and quickly became one of the rising stars of NASCAR. He was selected as part of the Next 9 drivers by NASCAR in the K&N Pro Series West and East.
His best finish of the season came at the Bullring in Las Vegas, where he was second to Pursley. Even though it was the best result of his rookie season, Kwasniewski points to the Roseville race as his best race so far.
"I definitely want to win every single race," Kwasniewski said. "We've had some chances some to be out there. I did finish second and that was my best result, but I didn't believe that it was my best race. I had a very good chance of winning, but my teammate Greg beat me out for the first-place finish.
"Roseville was a good race. I believe probably that was our best race even though we finished fourth and it wasn't our best finish, it was good to come out in my debut in the K&N Pro Series. I got respect for the drivers. I didn't bump anybody around or take anybody out. I got a good finish. I came out with a fourth place. That was a good race because I was pretty happy that I got a top five in my first race."
Kwasniewski has enjoyed success on the short tracks on the West Series. He has run into trouble on the road courses though. He had mechanical problems, crashed and finished in 25th place in the race at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.
"We've been doing pretty well. The only race we had bad luck was at Miller," Kwasniewski said. "The alternator went bad and we fell back and got involved in a wreck, but we had a very good chance of winning that race also."
It was a similar story at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. His car stalled in turn 11 on lap 60, four laps from the end of the race, and he dropped to 26th place.
"We've had a little bit of bad luck and we could have had better finishes than what we've had, but I'm pretty happy," Kwasniewski said. "Hopefully we won't have any more bad luck, gotten that out of the way, and we can get a couple of wins in this series."
His first trip to Iowa Speedway and his first race against the drivers from the K&N Pro Series East was a memorable one. Not only was he able to test his skills against drivers from the East Series, he was able to see how different some of the teams backed by Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip operate.
"It's a lot more competition, because there's a lot more drivers," Kwasniewski said. "In the West Series, everybody's a good driver, as well as the East Series. When you clash them together and put all those guys with really good equipment - there are teams back East that have support from teams like Joe Gibbs, Waltrip Racing - we don't really have that on the West Series. The top West Series drivers are just as good as the top East Series drivers. When you put them all together into a big race when you have almost 60 cars showing up, there's a lot of competition."
One of the benefits of racing for Gene Price Motorsports is that the team has a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series program. Pursley has entered and posted some impressive results in the Truck Series. The opportunity for Kwasniewski is there to perhaps test the Truck Series waters too.
"It's awesome knowing that I could go into the Truck Series if I wanted to," Kwasniewski said. "It puts a little bit of pressure on me. Hopefully, maybe they're thinking about that. We haven't really discussed anything yet. If I do really well, get a couple wins under my belt, then they'll see the true talent in me and they'll give me the opportunity to run a couple races."
Kwasniewski said his goal is to reach the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It will be a few years before that opportunity presents itself. For the time being, he is content with honing his skills with Gene Price Motorsports and in the K&N Pro Series West.
"The team wanted me to get seat time in the car. They weren't expecting any wins out of it," Kwasniewski said. "They were expecting me to perform as well as I could. My personal goals, they didn't really know what I could do. When I tested with them I was really fast and my goal is obviously to win every single race. Every series that I go into, whether it's go-kart or the K&N Pro Series, which is a much bigger series, I'm in to win every single race."
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