The West Coast has produced some top notch talent over the past few years. Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and others. As those names get older, then next batch of youngsters is set to take on NASCAR's top three divisions. One of those names is Dylan Kwasniewski.
Just a few short months ago, the entire short track world wondered ‘Who is this kid entering the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 2011 and making trips to run some big Super Late Model shows in the Southeast?’ They know him now as he is the youngest winner in NASCAR West Series history and it looks like he's going to be around for a while.
He has been working hard. Kwasniewski has been winning Late Model races and has made a jump to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West level after NASCAR lowered the age to 15 this season which shocked him.
"Once we found out the age limit we scrambled to get the car together and get the entire season going because we were only expecting to do five races this season so it wouldn’t affect my rookie status," said Kwasniewski.
Lots of talk was around Chase Elliott who was the top 15-year-old from Georgia who quickly made the jump to the East Series after dominating the Southeastern Late Model scene. Some even called NASCAR’s age-lowering the "Chase Elliott Rule," which seemed to be more beneficial for Kwasniewski then Elliott.
"Chase Elliott is another good driver in the East and he’s just kind of doing the same thing I am. Hopefully we can battle it out in the Cup Series one day and have a good rivalry.
"I definitely had high expectations," admitted Kwasniewski. "I have that in whatever class I go into whether its Cup or if I’m racing Legends, so I’m always expecting to win a couple races. I’m glad I got two (wins) in, but that’s not good enough for me and hopefully we can win some more."
Already a proven winner twice over in the West Series, Kwasniewski has shown amazing promise. One race, he crashed in a KNPSW race at Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park but still flew back to Las Vegas to win at the Bullring in his Late Model. He also did some good stuff in his first East Coast Late Model races by leading laps in the PASS opener at Anderson Speedway (SC) and making the Easter Bunny 150.
The rigors of a short track racing schedule forces Kwasniewski to miss school often.
"My last quarter of last year I was homeschooled because I was missing so much school, but now I went back to my school in Las Vegas and I’m having a great time, it’s awesome. I’m actually excited to go to school now because I get to see all my friends again and it’s a good experience."
It's not uncommon to have notes to his teacher read: “Please excuse Dylan as he will be racing this weekend in the NASCAR West Series.“
"My entire school knows what I do now and when I go to the front office they always ask me how I do," said Kwasniewski. "The dean of the school and the executive director all support my racing career greatly and it’s a great school to go to. They really support me because they like sports."
Getting teamed up with the right people two has truly helped his star shine quickly. Gene Price Motorsports is the hottest team in the West. Kwasniewski’s teammate Greg Pursley is in line to put his first KNPSW Championship on the shelf at the GPM race shop. The 43-year-old has taken Kwasniewski under his wing and helped him become very good, fast.
"I first met Gene Price and Greg Pursley and everybody on the team and I had a really close relationship with them right away," said Kwasniewski. "I felt comfortable with them and obviously we’re doing pretty good and hopefully we can do just as good as we were doing before. I couldn’t ask for a better relationship."
Kwasniewski is fifth in points and that's with him sitting out one race as he had no qualifications for the Phoenix event. He has been in the top five eight times and won twice on tracks that he had never raced on.
"Unfortunately we missed that first race," said Kwasniewski. "I think we would have been second in points right now if we didn’t miss that first race with those three bad races on the road courses."
Next year will see Kwasniewski run some ARCA events as well as the West schedule and some selected K&N East races like New Hampshire and Dover.
This year he will be crowned as the Rookie of the year in the West Series. If he keeps up this pace, they might have to give the big trophy to him next year.