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ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Dylan Kwasniewski got what he needed.
The 17-year-old from Las Vegas rebounded from an early flat tire to win the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West action on Saturday night at All American Speedway and regain the lead in the championship standings, with just one race left on the schedule.
After starting on the pole for the fifth time this season, Kwasniewski fell back through the 24-car field in the early going with the tire problem. After a quick pit stop to change the flat, he began to scratch and claw his way to the front of the field. Kwasniewski made a Lap 119 pass on Eric Holmes and led the rest of the way for his third victory of the season and the fifth of his career.
In Victory Lane after the race, Kwasniewski talked about his early misfortune and battling back for the win.
“We didn’t even lead a lap; then we got a flat tire,” he said. “Right after I got in and we changed that flat, I got taken out and went to the back again.”
Despite the tight battling that went on around the third-mile Roseville oval, Kwasniewski was able to work his way back to the front.
“We just had an awesome car,” he said of the No. 03 Royal Purple/Rockstar Ford. “That was by far the best race I’ve had all year. It was so good to finish in the front. There’s no better feeling.
“I’m in the lead by one or two points,” Kwasniewski said of the championship standings. “This was by far the best race. We not only gained the points lead, but we won the race. I can’t thank the guys enough, and my mom, too. This is the happiest I’ve been all year.”
Holmes, who led a race-high 101 laps, held on for second – finishing .436 seconds behind Kwasniewski.
“It was a great night for the NAPA Toyota No. 20 car,” Holmes said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win, but Dylan had a really fast car coming through the pack. Congratulations to him. That was an awesome win for him. On long greens, I was a little better than him, I felt. But on the short greens, he got by me. It was great side-by-side racing through the front of the field.”
David Mayhew was close behind in third. Derek Thorn, who lost the lead to Holmes after contact on Lap 33, recovered to take fourth – while Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Cameron Hayley finished fifth. Jamie Krzysik finished sixth in his series debut, with Travis Milburn in seventh and rookie Dallas Montes in eighth. Former series champion Mike David, making his first start since 2009, and Jonathon Gomez rounded out the top 10.
Kwasniewski came into the night trailing Gene Price Motorsports teammate and defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Greg Pursley by 14 points in the standings. It was a sub-par performance for Pursley. After starting 13th, he ran into early trouble and had to make a quick pit stop. Starting from the back, he also made his way to the front and was up to fourth by the midway point of the race. He faded in the second half, however, and ended up 13th.
Kwasniewski came away with a two-point lead over Pursley as the series heads to the season finale, Casino Arizona 50, at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 10. Thorn is third in the standings, with Holmes fourth and Mayhew fifth. They are followed by Michael Self, Hayley, Austin Dyne, Gomez and Ryan Philpott.
In addition to the series championship, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title will be decided at Phoenix – with Dyne holding a slim lead over Hayley.
The Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 will air on SPEED on Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. ET.
Dylan Kwasniewski (03) works past Eric Holmes en route to his victory at All American Speedway. Jason Watson/Getty Images for NASCAR