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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The old saying goes, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” In 2013, Dylan Kwasniewski delivered as expected.
Kwasniewski, from Las Vegas, Nev., came to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with plenty of expectations. The reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series West titlist switched coasts and series, and as a championship favorite, he became the default torch-bearer for Turner Scott Motorsports’ newly-established K&N Pro Series program.
Added to the mix, the 18-year-old driver had a camera crew following him around to film a reality series in which he was the central figure.
There were a lot of eyes on him, but Kwasniewski took it all in stride and, in fact, excelled.
When the dust had settled on the 2013 season, Kwasniewski tied the K&N Pro Series East mark for the second-most victories in a single season with six, and he became the first driver ever to win championships in both the K&N Pro Series West and East.
And he did it with the level of swagger and confidence akin to what it takes to be successful on “The Strip” in his native Las Vegas.
“I broke records in the [K&N Pro Series] West, and that’s what I came out here [to the East] to do as well,” Kwasniewski said. “I want to be different than any of the other drivers and different than anybody has seen before. I want to prove that I’m better and that I can go out there and win races no matter what the circumstances are.”
Kwasniewski moved over from the K&N Pro Series West to the K&N Pro Series East for 2013 to diversify his racing background (the East had six events at tracks in which NASCAR’s national series compete) as well as to establish roots in the greater Charlotte, N.C., area – the hub of the NASCAR industry.
Kwasniewski drove TSM’s No. 98 Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet to Victory Lane in the season-opener at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway to set the tone for the season. The campaign had its valleys, but they were significantly outnumbered by the peaks.
Although Kwasniewski fully accepted the high expectations, even he was impressed with the accomplishments of the season following domination winning performance in the season finale at Road Atlanta – the Braselton, Ga., road course – when he clinched a second-straight championship.
“With a team like Turner Scott Motorsports – their first year in the series – and we get a championship out of it with six wins, that’s just unbelievable,” Kwasniewski said.
Off the track, NASCAR and Vuguru announced in late spring that Kwasniewski would be the subject of a doccu-series titled “Flat Out” that would be featured at the online video platform AOL On Network. The series followed Kwasniewski from his home life in Las Vegas and transition to North Carolina to the various race tracks of the K&N Pro Series East.
The series put Kwasniewski even further under the microscope, but it was a process that he embraced as part of furthering his racing career.
“It was a little bit weird – you can’t say that having cameras following you around is normal – but I wanted to make sure that I ended off the season and their entire production with a win,” Kwasniewski said. “The fans wanted to see how I make it through the sport, and I think by doing this [winning the championship] it’s going to put me on the perfect track to go to the next level.”
Although plans are not yet finalized, Kwasniewski is indeed expected to advance to the NASCAR national series level for 2014. In the immediate aftermath of clinching his second-straight title, however, Kwasniewski was more reflective and talked about the beginning of his racing career and the support of his late father, Randy.
“He was the one who started it,” Kwasniewski said of his late father. “He told somebody ‘My son is going to become a NASCAR champion someday,’ and I know that I did that last year, but now I can say that I’m a back-to-back NASCAR champion.”
Kwasniewski's sixth victory of the season, in the finale at Road Atlanta, clinched the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship. Getty Images for NASCAR