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Kwasniewski Ready to Rock in Nationwide Debut

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By Chris Owens – Three short years ago, nobody knew whom Dylan Kwasniewski was or even how to pronounce his name. Spin forward three years and Kwasniewski will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut today at Daytona.

A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Kwasniewski is the first driver to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West championships in back-to-back years. He became the second driver in back-to-back years to win the East Series championship and graduate to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Kyle Larson being the most recent driver.

Before last season, the biggest track Kwasniewski had seen was Phoenix International Raceway on the West Series circuit. Now he comes to Daytona ready to tackle one of the biggest beasts on the NNS circuit.

Starting on the pole in last Saturday’s ARCA turned several heads for the young phenom.  While the ARCA race and Saturday’s NNS race don’t compare as far as cars go, Kwasniewski says he still learned several things he can apply come race time.

“You can definitely take a lot out of that ARCA race and take into the Nationwide race. It’s going to be that times 100 I guess. Everything is going to be way more intense,” Kwasniewski said.

“It will be a lot more racy for sure, people will take more risk, you have to stay on your toes and hopefully we’ll be able to stay out of trouble and be there at the end and hopefully get a good finish.”

With just three years in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Kwasniewski hasn’t been through in the limelight just yet. With the move to the NNS, Kwasniewski says the stage becomes bigger. With the added spotlight, mistakes tend to show more, and that’s one thing he’ll try to minimize on Saturday.

“The type of racing is different, the stage is bigger, and there are more fans. Everything is bigger, it’s more intense and we are going to be able to make those decisions on a split second,” he said.

“Hopefully we won’t be able to screw up that much. It’s going to be tough, especially at Daytona, with how much you have to trust your spotter. It’s going to be hard to have those instincts to react that quickly when you’re on such a big stage.”

One thing Kwasniewski has that he’ll be able to rely on is the fact that Kyle Larson took the same route as he did. Both Larson and Kwasniewski came off of championship runs in the NASCAR East Series and graduated straight to NASCAR’s minor league.

“He went through the same thing I’m going through this year,” Kwasniewski said. “He came from the K&N Series, was absolutely brand new, he had to adapt quickly, so relying on him and having somebody to work with is huge.”

While Larson has graduated to the Sprint Cup Series in just two years, Kwasniewski knows that he’ll be held to a higher standard to perform. He knows he’ll have to, or be forgotten about in a short period of time.

“There’s a very slim opportunity for us to actually show our stuff, come out with a bang and show we have talent in the first place. After that, if you don’t succeed and you don’t perform, well they kind of start to forget about you,” he said.

For the young Las Vegas driver, he’s ready to go. Now that we’re getting closer to his debut, he’s looking forward to making his debut and racing with the caliber of drivers in the NNS.

“Now that we’re getting closer to the weekend, closer to actually going out and competition it’s an awesome feeling,” he said. “A lot of media attention obviously, so just seeing that and being at the big stage and getting to race with these guys is a pretty cool experience and definitely looking forward to the race. “

EMAIL CHRIS AT chris.owens@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ChrisOwens62

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