Vegas teen Kwasniewski wins in Roseville, regains points lead
ROSEVILLE — A year and a half ago, Dylan Kwasniewski was about to become the youngest driver to start a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race, still a month shy of his 16th birthday. Today, the Las Vegas teenager is on the verge of winning the points championship.
Kwasniewski took the lead from Bill McAnally Racing hotshoe Eric Holmes of Escalon on lap 119 Saturday night and went on to win the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at All American Speedway.
“By far the best race I’ve had all year,” said Kwasniewski, who passed Gene Price Motorsports teammate and defending Pro Series West champ Greg Pursley for the points lead with only Phoenix left on the calendar.
Pursley was knocked around early in a couple of skirmishes as the 24-car field aggressively tried to establish itself. He climbed to fourth but faded to finished 13th.
Kwasniewski, the Pro Series West Rookie of the Year in 2011, scored his third win of the season and the fifth of his budding career, but his crew saved him from losing a lap on lap 12. Kwasniewski exited the off-ramp in turn two with a flat back left tire. Under a caution period, he reappeared less than a minute later at the on-ramp in turn three before the field cruised by.
“I have to thank my crew for the world for winning this race,” Kwasniewski said.
Holmes took the lead early and set the pace until Kwasniewski passed him on a restart. The three-time series champ and BMR teammates Cameron Hayley of Canada and Markus Niemelä of Finland, making his series debut, ran 1-2-3 for more than 50 laps until Kwasniewski picked his way through the field and interrupted the BMR party.
Holmes had one last restart opportunity on lap 133, approaching the flag stand high with Kwasniewski underneath. The kid held on, and Holmes finally ran out of real estate. Kwasniewski, who will race in Pro Series East next year, won by .436 of a second with David Mayhew third.
“We just didn’t get out on the restarts real good. He was just fast at the end,” Holmes said. “I’m a little disappointed we didn’t win. We’re definitely getting faster, but we’re here to win.”
Derek Thorn followed his win in the SRL Spears Southwest Tour Series 125-lap race by finishing fourth, and Hayley was fifth.
Thorn was content to run behind Jim Pettit II and Jacob Gomes during a massive stretch of green-flag racing until Jared Vorse spun on lap 106 in the SRL main event.
Thorn picked off Gomes for second place and took the lead coming out of turn two on lap 119. Both just missed a spinning Jason Gilbert, and Thorn drove to the checkered flag .813 of a second in front of Pettit, whose car was too loose in the final laps to mount a threat.
M.K. Kanke was third, Gomes fourth and Roseville’s Eric Schmidt fifth.
Thorn leads Pettit by 54 points heading into the season finale Nov. 17 in Las Vegas. That race pays $15,000 to win.
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