ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The battle for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship continues as the series heads into its final three races of the season.
Defending champion Greg Pursley holds a 15-point advantage over second-year driver Dylan Kwasniewski in the championship standings as the series makes its inaugural visit to NAPA Speedway just west of Albuquerque, N.M., for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 on Saturday.
Pursley and Kwasniewski are teammates at Gene Price Motorsports. They both excel on track and are driven to win, but beyond that the two are quite different. Pursley is a 44-year-old former motorcycle racer who can be found working in the GPM shop when he is not behind the wheel of a stock car.
Meanwhile, Kwasniewski, as a member of NASCAR’s Next 9 program, is one of nine NASCAR K&N Pro Series drivers who represent the next wave of young talent set to make an impact on the national series scene. He became the first 15-year-old to race in the series when he joined the circuit early last season and has said he wants to be the David Beckham of NASCAR.
Pursley was dominant a season ago, winning six of the first eight races en route to the series title. Although his four wins this season have been more spread out over the schedule, it was his two most recent wins – July 28 at Colorado National Speedway in Dacono, Colo., and Aug. 26 at Portland (Ore.) Int’l Raceway – that fueled his move past Kwasniewski in the standings.
If he retains the lead through the final three races, Pursley will become the 13th driver in series history with back-to-back championships with the most recent being Mike Duncan in 2004 and 2005.
“We plan to go out there and keep doing what we’re doing, keep our heads down and keep trying to pull off these top five finishes,” Pursley said. “Our goal now, obviously, is to finish in front of the 03 car for the last three races. We had a feeling it was going to come down for the championship to the last race. It’s pretty cool to have both teams come out of Gene Price Motorsports and do that.”
Kwasniewski also had a great season in 2011, with a record–setting year as a series rookie. His success has continued this year, with two wins and three poles. When he took over the lead in the championship standings just before his 17th birthday, he became the youngest driver in series history to lead the points. Now, he’s looking to gain the lead back and take the title.
“I think we definitely have a chance,” said the Las Vegas teenager. “We have a great team and great sponsors, with Rockstar and Royal Purple. It’s going to be tough to beat Greg. I think our team can pull together and I think we can get the strength to succeed in those last couple of races.”