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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The challenge for the 2012 championship in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West featured one of the closest battles in the history of the series, with 17-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski edging Greg Pursley by six points for the title.
Before we turn the page on 2012, let’s take another look back at the season.
Record Setter: Coming off his record-setting rookie year, Kwasniewski continued to set series standards in his quest for the 2012 title. The Las Vegas teen became the youngest driver to lead the championship standings, taking the top spot in points just before his 17th birthday in May. Kwasniewski, driving the No. 03 Rockstar/Royal Purple Ford, swapped the points lead with Pursley before eventually clinching the title in the season finale and becoming the youngest series champion at 17 years 5 months 10 days old.
Most Wins, Again: For the second straight year, Pursley had the most wins during the season – with four. His first victory of 2012 was in April on the road course at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah – where he won for the third year in a row. He went to Victory Lane at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in June and at Colorado National Speedway in July. Pursley’s fourth win came at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway in August.
Youth Movement: The series continued to attract many talented young drivers in 2012. Among them was 15-year-old Hannah Newhouse of Twin Falls, Idaho – who made her series debut with a sixth-place finish at NAPA Speedway in Albuquerque, N.M., in September. Young talent was particularly prevalent in the season finale at Phoenix International Raceway, where the 30-car field featured a dozen drivers under the age of 21 and the average age of the top five finishers was 18.
Breakthrough Season: Michael Self had a breakthrough season in 2012. Self, who entered his third full season in the series with a career-best finish of fourth, rang up three victories during the year. The driver of the No. 21 Rockwell/Golden Gate Meat Chevrolet – who hails from Park City, Utah – scored his first career win on the road course at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway in May. He followed that up with a victory as the top finishing K&N West driver in the combination race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa in August and wrapped up his season with a win in the season finale at Phoenix International Raceway in November.
Not A Thorn-y Day: Derek Thorn was also a first-time winner in the series in 2012. In his first full season of series competition; the Lakeport, Calif., driver scored two wins – at Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., in April and at NAPA Speedway in Albuquerque, N.M., in September. Thorn went on to finish third in the championship standings, driving the No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford.
Gene Price Dominates Qualifying: Gene Price Motorsports drivers dominated series qualifying in 2012, accounting for nine of the 14 pole awards – five for Kwasniewski and four for Pursley. The teammates were particularly strong midway through the year, when they qualified 1-2 in three consecutive races.
Special Weekend For Gillilands: David Gilliland and his father, Butch, both captured the spotlight during the NASCAR weekend at Sonoma, Calif., in June. Butch, the 1997 series champion, was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on Thursday night. Two days later, David scored his second series win at the twisting 1.99-mile track – to match the two wins his father had there.
Holmes Continues Winning: Three-time series champion Eric Holmes scored his 17th career win in 2012 – putting him in a tie with Bill Sedgwick on the list of career series victories. For Holmes, driver of the No. 20 NAPA Toyota, it also marked his seventh consecutive season with a series win.
Milestone Win For BMR: The win by Holmes at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., in July marked Bill McAnally Racing’s 50th win.