For NASCAR to allow him to run the Nationwide Series race at Daytona, 18-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski had to run the ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil 250 to get NASCAR’s approval. Not problem as Kwasniewski won the pole and finished solidly inside the top 15.
On the heels of that, Kwasniewski put his No. 31 Rockstar/FOE Chevrolet on the pole for the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona in his first ever Nationwide Series start. The 2013 K&N Pro Series East Champion will run the full Nationwide Series schedule this year as he battles for the Rookie of the Year crown against Ty Dillon and Chase Elliott.
“If you’d told me I’d have the pole for the Daytona race, I’d have said you were crazy,” Kwasniewski said afterwards. “For lack of a better word, I have no idea how to say what the feeling is for this. … It’s crazy. … It’s an extraordinary feeling.”
The Nationwide Series qualifying session marked the first round of NASCAR’s new group segment qualifying format. However, due to rain, NASCAR was only able to complete the first 25 minute segment so therefore the field will be set by those speeds.
Kwasniewski will be joined at the front of the field by his Turner-Scott Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Danica Patrick, as they qualified second and third behind them. The TSM cars all headed out together and were able to post the quick time mid-way though the session.
Kwasniewski credited Patrick for their fast time, stating that, “She picked her way (though) perfectly and got all us a great lap.”
Both Larson and Patrick shared their thoughts on the new format, saying that it was wild and exciting.
“The new qualifying was really wild, especially since it was on a super speedway. But it was a lot of fun,” Larson commented. “I definitely think the car owners are happy we aren’t doing two more sessions.”
There will be some times when it will be a total disaster,” Patrick added. “Like when we go to short tracks. Can’t even imagine. If NASCAR wanted to make it interesting for the fans, they’ve done that.”
The three Turner-Scott Motorsports were followed by the three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers: Kyle Busch, Elliott Sadler and Matt Kenseth. Jamie Dick turned in an impressive seventh, followed by Jeff Green, Johnny Sauter and David Starr.
Notably, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 16th, followed by Brad Keselowski in 17th. Rookies Ty Dillon and Chase Elliott qualified 23rd and 26th, respectively.
One car would find trouble during qualifying as rookie Ryan Reed made heavy contact with the wall. He will go to a back-up, though made the field virtue of having Travis Pastana’s owners points from last year.
Failing to make the field was Clay Greenfield, Carlos Contreras, Carl Long, Matt DiBenedetto, Matt Carter, Willie Allen, Chris Buescher, Tanner Berryhill and David Ragan. Chris Buescher is scheduled to run the full NASCAR Nationwide Series this year for Roush-Fenway Racing and go for the Rookie of the Year Award.