KALISPELL - At 16 years and 2 months old, Dylan Kwasniewski was already the youngest-ever driver to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race.
He accomplished that Aug. 6 at Colorado National Speedway with his first career victory. On Saturday night at the quarter-mile Montana Raceway Park, he became the youngest-ever driver to get career win No. 2 in the series, grabbing both checkered flags within seven days of each other.
Kwasniewski flashed past teammate and polesitter Gene Pursley on lap 52 and lapped most of the field on his way to winning the Toyota/TTC 150 in the 10th race of the year in the K&N Pro Series West, which is three levels below the Sprint Cup Series on the development ladder.
Pursley accidentally opened the door for his much-younger teammate and could only watch him drive away after that.
"He made a little bit of a mistake and we were able to get our nose in there and make a clean pass," Kwasniewski said of his race-winning pass. "Once we were ahead of everyone, we knew we were going to pull out a little bit and get a comfortable lead. And that's what we did."
When he took the checkered flag, Kwasniewski - who's from Las Vegas, like Sprint Cup stars Kurt and Kyle Busch - had lapped all but five other cars, including the one piloted by two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip. Kwasniewski went three-wide several times to lap slower traffic.
"I was definitely trying to push the limit at the beginning," said Kwasniewski, who has a comfortable lead in the Rookie of the Year standings. "I like having a comfortable lead, knowing that everyone else is far behind. Once we got out there and I knew that we had a straightaway lead, I kind of backed off a little bit."
Kwasniewski maintained a margin of just over three seconds through the late stages of the event and crossed the finish line with a winning margin of 4.301 seconds.
Another teenager - 15-year-old Cameron Hayley of Calgary - made his first series start and finished second in a Toyota. Defending series and race champion Eric Holmes finished third. Pursley and Michael Self rounded out the top five.
At 15 years and 2 months, Hayley is now the youngest driver to ever start a K&N Pro West race. Kwasniewski had set that mark himself at 15 years and 10 months earlier this season.
"We just came out here with an open mind," Hayley said. "Rob (Dixon), my crew chief, had it dialed in ever since practice. We went out there and qualified seventh. We rolled around there for a bit at the beginning, just to save my tires. I experimented with different grooves to see what was going to be best at the end. We had something for Dylan, but we were just a little too far back."
Brett Thompson, Waltrip, Ben Kennedy, Carl Harr and Moses Smith rounded out the top 10. Thompson was the last driver on the lead lap. All 20 starters finished the race.
Pursley reset the track record in qualifying, circling the oval in 13.712 seconds (65.636 mph). He stretched his commanding lead over Smith in the championship standings to 284 points; he leads with 1,885.
The race is scheduled to be broadcast on Speed at 2 p.m. Sept. 1. The next event on the 14-race NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is Sept. 3 at Spokane County Raceway in Airway Heights.
Toyota TTC 150 Results
At Montana Raceway Park, Kalispell
Lap length: One-quarter mile
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (3) Dylan Kwasniewski, Ford, 150 laps, 190 points.
2. (7) Cameron Hayley, Toyota, 150, 170.
3. (2) Eric Holmes, Toyota, 150, 165.
4. (1) Greg Pursley, Ford, 150, 165.
5. (8) Michael Self, Chevrolet, 150, 155.
6. (9) Brett Thompson, Chevrolet, 150, 150.
7. (5) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 149, 146.
8. (6) Ben Kennedy, Toyota, 149, 142.
9. (15) Carl Harr, Chevrolet, 149, 138.
10. (11) Moses Smith, Toyota, 149, 134.
11. (4) Luis Martinez Jr., Ford, 148, 130.
12. (13) Dylan Lupton, Ford, 148, 127.
13. (14) Ryan Philpott, Ford, 148, 124.
14. (18) John Wood, Chevrolet, 147, 121.
15. (17) Greg Rayl, Ford, 147, 118.
16. (12) Dave Garber, Chevrolet, 147, 115.
17. (10) Daryl Harr, Chevrolet, 145, 109.
18. (19) Jack Sellers, Chevrolet, 144, 106.
19. (20) Justin Funkhouser, Chevrolet, 144, 106.
20. (16) Justin Philpott, Chevrolet, 141, 103.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 56.509 mph.
Time of Race: 39 minutes, 49 seconds.
Margin of Victory: 4.301 seconds.
Caution flags: 2 for 8 laps.
Lead changes: 1 among 2 drivers.
Lap leaders: Greg Pursley 1-51, Dylan Kwasniewski 52-150.
Leaders summary (driver, times led, laps led): Pursley, 1 time for 52 laps; Kwasniewski, 1 time for 148 laps.
Top 10 in Points: 1. G.Pursley, 1885; 2. M.Smith, 1601; 3. L.Martinez Jr., 1534; 4. E.Holmes, 1532; 5. B.Thompson, 1490; 6. M.Self, 1487; 7. D.Kwasniewski, 1464; 8, D.Harr, 1331; 9. R.Philpott, 1293; 10. C.Harr, 1191.