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GREENVILLE, S.C. – Dylan Kwasniewski dominating season just keeps rolling along.
The 18-year-old from Las Vegas won for the fourth time in the last six NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races – and for the fifth time this season – as he took the checkered flag in Monday's Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 at Greenville Pickens Speedway.
Kwasniewski's No. 98 Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet finished 2.650 seconds over runner-up Daniel Suárez. After starting on the pole for the third time this season, he surrendered the lead on Lap 3 to Suárez and fell back to as far as ninth, but that was part of the plan.
“That was the strategy today to make sure we had something for the end,” said the victor, whose best Greenville finish coming into the day was seventh. “We didn’t want to drop too far and put us in a bad spot when it was time to go.”
Patience paid off for Kwasniewski. After dropping back in the pack he began a methodical march back through the field. By Lap 100 he was back in contention for the race lead. On race’s 108th lap Kwasniewski worked his way around Jeremy Burns in Turns 3 and 4 for the lead. From there, it was just a matter of staying away from trouble as he was able to get away from the rest of the lead pack.
“Turner Scott Motorsports did a great job. We came here testing and got (the car) absolutely money,” Kwasniewski said. “Every single person on this team did a fantastic job to give me a great car.”
Suárez, who led a race-high 64 laps, jumped out early to set a quick pace. The Rev Racing driver out of Monterrey, Mexico gave up the lead to Matt Tifft shortly after the race’s lone restart on Lap 67. Like Kwasniewski, Suárez dropped back to allow the tires to cool down on a very warm day before mounting a late rally.
“We were looking for a yellow flag that never came,” said Suárez. “We were running the same speeds as (Kwasniewski). Maybe we waited too long, but second place is good for points and we’ll keep working to win another race in 2013.”
Fifteen-year-old rookie Gray Gaulding started seventh and spent much of the race running in the top five before finishing third for his third podium finish of the season. The youngster has scored consecutive top-five finishes in his last two outings.
“It’s great to finish third at a historic track like Greenville,” said the Colonial Heights, Va., driver. “We’re coming off a good top five at (Virginia International Raceway) and got a good top five today. We’re building great momentum going into New Hampshire.”
Kwasniewski is the defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion and current East points leader. He's looking to become the first driver to win the two series in consecutive years. He pushed his lead to 40 points over Brett Moffitt, who finished ninth, with four races remaining.
Eddie MacDonald finished in the fourth position while Mackena Bell equaled her career-best finish with a fifth-place effort. Ben Rhodes, Jesse Little, Kenzie Ruston, Moffitt and Ben Kennedy rounded out the top 10.
Kennedy is third in points and at 53 back, meaning Moffitt is the only driver within a race of Kwasniewski.
The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 will air on FS1 on Sunday, Sept. 22 at noon.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to the track Saturday, Sept. 21 for the North American Power 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Dylan Kwasniewski's No. 98 Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet was a little worse for wear but he still managed to put it in Victory Lane Monday at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway. Matt Kentfield/Speed51.com