LAS VEGAS — Hometown driver Dylan Kwasniewski finally got the victory he had been wanting for some time with a flawless performance in the Lucas Oil Products 75 presented by Hoosier Tire West Saturday night at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kwasniewski, who set the pace in qualifying for round three of the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart, started fourth after the invert, but moved into second behind Chris Gerchman on lap one. Those two were clearly the best, pulling away from the pack easily, and once he got the lead, on lap 42, Kwasniewski maintained a comfortable margin to the finish.
It was the second series’ win for the 17-year-old Las Vegas resident, who had captured the 2011 season opener at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and he said he wanted to dedicate it to fellow driver Doug Hamm and his family, who are grieving the unexpected loss of Hamm’s sister a week ago.
Gerchman was second without a challenge and Shelby Strobel, BILSTEIN Trophy Dash winner Jim Mardis and Roger Brown rounded out the top five for a race series’ promoter Greg Scheidecker called “very, very ugly” because of seven yellow caution flags, one red flag and several on-track incidents that prompted officials to count yellow flag laps and abandon the two-abreast restarts.
“I’m not real happy with a bunch of spotters,” Scheidecker said.
“Early on there were some tough battles going on in there,” said Stroebel, who suffered some body damage on his car in a collision with Doug Carpenter. “There was some real defensive aggressiveness. It was crazy. We were 22 laps in and I felt like I’d run a race already. I said ‘are you kidding me, I’ve got 50 more to go?”
Gerchman, who got a bump on his head early in the day when the wind blew an awning over in the pits, was ahead of most of the incidents on track throughout the evening, had no answer for Kwasniewski.
“I was running it all out,” he said. “The bottom line is, we got beat. He was faster, there’s no doubt about it. His car was hooked up off the turns more than mine was. I was just as fast in the middle and the center, but he was getting me coming off.”
Kwasniewski, a full-time competitor in the NASCAR K&N East series, said his car got a little loose at the end, but not enough to affect him. His only concern at the finish was the final yellow flag, with four laps of the 3/8-mile oval remaining, and he dashed those worries by pulling away quickly.
“I knew we definitely had a really good car,” he said. “I know in this series you’ve definitely got to take care of your tires and make sure you’ve got some left at the end. I was just trying to pace it and see what Chris was doing, and when it was time to go we took the opportunity. I knew we could stay up front once we got there.
“We’ve been wanting to get a win in the series for awhile. I think out of all the cars I’ve driven this is the definitely the most fun to drive. You have to use so much of your driving skill instead of just the car it’s a blast and every lap is like a new challenge. It’s a really fun series to race to race in, for sure.”
Dylan Kwasniewski, Chris Gerchman, Shelby Stroebel, Jim Mardis, Roger Brown, Chase Catania, Joe DeGuevara, David Crouch, Tim Morse, Doug Carpenter, Aaron McMorran, Vanessa Robinson, Jessica Clark, Devin LaHorgue, Scott Osborne, Larry Gerchman, Chris Cook, Keaton Swane, Nik Romano, Doug Hamm, Jentry Pisca, Matthew Hicks, Jason Patison.