Growing up racing at the 3/8-mile bullring in Las Vegas, Dylan Kwasniewski always dreamed of being able to race the high-banks of the mile and a half Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval. His dream is coming true this weekend as he races the No. 31 Rockstar Energy Chevrolet for Turner-Scott Motorsports in the Nationwide Series.
“To actually be here racing at my home track, and hopefully have the home crowd cheer me on is pretty cool,” Kwasniewski commented. “I think we have some good momentum going. We’ve had two good races and hopefully we can improve on our finish at Phoenix last week.”
Kwasniewski added that he’s made laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before this weekend – but only with the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
“It’s just going to be a good experience no matter where I finish to be racing here at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway infront of guys that have given me so much for my career,” he continued. “I just can’t wait to get on track and hopefully we can have some speed and we won’t suck in front of my hometown.”
Kwasniewski did get a taste of racing at LVMS before, racing a legend on the front stretch.
“You raced on the track – you only get a small snippet there – but just being around there in front of the fans that stay to watch you and being on a big stage,” he expressed of that experience. “I always grew up watching the stuff, sitting on people’s pit boxes. Now that we’re here, it’s a crazy feeling.”
Kwasniewski says there’s some sadness to it because he loved racing at the bullring next door, enjoying the ability to let it all hang out and race hard on the smaller short tracks.
“You get to race hard, rough people up, drive the crap out of the car,” he said. “It’s a blast and I’m going to miss it – but this is the next step up. I’m looking forward to what these tracks have in store for me. The speeds are going to be a lot faster, the competition is going to be harder and I’m looking forward to the challenge that presents itself.”
Some of those people in the grandstands will be rivals that Kwasniewski raced previously, though he isn’t worry about some not liking him as he has always tried to be respectful. Kwasniewski added that he thinks he’ll get their respect because it’s nice to see people from your own hometown go on to do bigger things.
“I think they’ll think it’s cool that I am getting up there because it could pave the way for them,” he said. “Kyle and Kurt did that for us, and hopefully I pave the way for more. Some people will hate on me – I’ve had some tweets – but it’s just going to happen, whatever. Hopefully for the better things of the whole, hope people will like seeing me out there on the track and making it in the series. “
With being in hometown, Kwasniewski has spent the week leading up to the race with friends, going to shows and doing a helicopter tour of the city – taking in the role of tourist.
“I decided that I live it up like a tourist so I’m staying at my best friend’s house and sleep in a bed that I am used to,” he commented. “I get to sight see, go out to dinner and have some fun. I get to see my friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. I got to go up to one of my favourite spots which is up almost to Red Rock. You’re about as high as you can get and you can see all of Las Vegas. It’s cool to wind down and relax before this weekend in my home city. It’s good to feel comfortable in the place that I know best.”
This year marks Kwasniewski’s rookie season in the Nationwide Series after winning the K&N Pro East Series Championship last year. For that reason, Kwasniewski says that one of the simplest goals this year is to win the Rookie of The Year title. However, that’s not the only goal for the 18-year-old.
“I also want to go win races,” he commented. “I mean, you can’t go out there and not think that you can win the race because you set yourself up for failure. You just have to go out there knowing that you can do your best. It’ll be tough. Obviously, Kyle is fast and he does wax the field sometimes. But if you can go out there and beat him, it shows your ready to stay here and to play. It’s going to be tough, but you have to set your sights high.”
Kwasniewski has done well so far this year – finishing inside the top 10 at Daytona before finishing 13th at Phoenix International Raceway.
“I just wanted to get out of Daytona. I knew if we got out of there solid that we’d be on a good track,” he commented. “It’s a wild card. You have no idea how you’ll finish there. I am surprised that I’m doing this well – but at the same time, I want to do better than the 13th place finish at Phoenix. I screwed up in my pit stops in Florida and I know that I could’ve improved on that and got better track position.
“I’m my toughest critic. I want to do better than I’m doing. Even if it’s second place, I want to do better and get that one more stop and be the best out there. You just have to constantly push yourself to do better. I am surprised that I’m doing this well but these are great guys and we’re jelling well.”
So far this weekend in Las Vegas isn’t going how Kwasniewski would’ve hoped as he got loose in practice, making heavy contact with the wall. As a result, Kwasniewski will have to unload his back-up car for tomorrow.