By: Hubble Smith, Sports Editor
Other than having a little fun on the Strip and drawing a lot of media attention in his hometown, it was a disappointing trip back to Las Vegas for 18-year-old NASCAR driver Dylan Kwasniewski.
He smacked the wall during practice for the Boyd Gaming 300 Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Turner Scott Motorsports had to unload the backup No. 31 Chevy Camaro. He made contact with the wall again in Turn 3 after a wreck on the 70th lap of Saturday’s race and finished 24th among the field of 40 cars.
A graduate of Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas, Kwasniewski started his rookie season by winning the pole and finishing eighth at Daytona and followed that with a 13th-place finish at Phoenix. He’s No. 8 in Nationwide Series points.
The mop-haired kid who wears those oversized-bill caps had never turned a lap at Las Vegas Motor Speedway until making his debut there with the Nationwide Series, despite having burned a lot of rubber on the nearby Bullring track.
“A lot of people think I’m going to have a home-field advantage this weekend, but the truth is, I have never run a lap on the big track,” Kwasniewski said prior to the race. “I have done all my racing at the Bullring across the street. I know this weekend is going to be a challenge, but Pat (crew chief Pat Tryson) and the guys have prepared a great car for me and hopefully we can bring home a good finish.”
That didn't happen, but Kwasnieski said he’s looking forward to coming back next year and redeeming himself. He said he couldn't describe the feeling he got taking the green flag at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“When my family and I sat down a few years ago and methodically put together a plan to help me reach my goals, this was high on the list and something I really wanted to achieve,” he said.
Brendan Gaughan, son of South Point casino owner Michael Gaughan, had a better showing in the Nationwide race, finishing 16th after being penalized twice for speeding on pit row. Driving the Richard Childress Racing No. 62 Camaro sponsored by South Point, Gaughan is No. 7 in Nationwide Series points.
In the featured Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race, Las Vegan Kyle Busch finished 11th and brother Kurt was 26th.
One interesting note this year was the new qualifying system. Instead of each car running two laps, which would take about three hours, they all ran 20 minutes with the fastest 24 times advancing to a 10-minute second round of qualifying. The top 12 times then advanced to a 5-minute third round of qualifying, and those times set the order. Joey Logano won the pole with a record lap time of 27.939 seconds, or 193.2 mph. It was more exciting for fans to see the race-style qualifying and it was over in less than an hour.
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