Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dylan Kwasniewski Claims The 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship

Dylan Kwasniewski en route to his Road Atlanta 115 victory.
(Getty Images for NASCAR)
 Dylan Kwasniewski continued to make history with a dominating effort Friday in winning the Road Atlanta 115 and claiming the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship.

“The car was just awesome today,” said Kwasniewski. “The Turner Scott Motorsports team has given me great cars all season and I can’t thank all the people that make this possible enough.”

Kwasniewski, who became the youngest champion in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West last year, became the first driver to win both titles in both series.

“I wanted to go out with a bang with a win in the race and the championship. That’s what we did,” said the driver of the No. 98 Royal Purple Synthetic Oil/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet. “To get two back-to-back especially on the East Coast and the West Coast; I’m just trying to prove to everybody out there that I can get it done not only (in) the west but on the east side, too.”

The 18-year-old out of Las Vegas shook off a pair of hard luck finishes that had narrowed his lead to just five points over Brett Moffitt entering the final race of the season. He started from the pole position and dominated the series’ inaugural visit to the 2.54-mile road course by leading wire-to-wire for his sixth win of the season.

Kwasniewski’s season win total tied Brad Leighton’s six wins in 1999 for the second-most in series history. Ricky Craven won a record 10 races in 1991.

While Kwasniewski was out front, the championship suspense quickly ended as Moffitt had transmission problems that knocked him out of second-place on Lap 6 and eventually out of the race. Moffitt finished 24th, giving Kwasniewski the title by 33 points.

A pair of Rev Racing drivers – Daniel Suárez and Bryan Ortiz – finished second and third. Rev Racing is a byproduct of NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity effort.

The runner-up finish for Suárez closes out a breakout season for the member of the NASCAR Next program. He scored top-five finishes in four of his last five starts of the season.

“In the first half of the race the car was good and just as fast as Dylan’s, but it just got tighter and tighter,” said driver out of Monterrey, Mexico. “I don’t know exactly what happened. It just never came back to neutral.”

Kwasniewski, a member of the NASCAR Next program, also became the first driver since Mike Stefanik to notch championships in two different series in consecutive years. Stefanik won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and K&N Pro Series East titles in both 1997 and 1998. Lee Petty and Bobby Allison are also members of this exclusive group.

At 18 years, 4 months and 3 days, Kwasniewski is the third-youngest champion in K&N Pro Series East history behind Joey Logano and Ryan Truex, who both won titles before turning 18 years of age.

The championship was the first at the K&N Pro Series level for Turner Scott Motorsports that fielded three fulltime teams in 2013.

“We started out in January with an empty race shop and here we sit at the press conference after taking the championship,” said Harry Scott, Turner Scott Motorsports co-owner. “We’ve really come a long way.”

Kwasniewski will be honored for his championship season along with NASCAR's other touring series champions on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards in the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame. 

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