February 14, 2014 — Report by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online — DAYTONA BEACH, FL — Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than fast.
On Friday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway, Dylan Kwasniewski was both.
Kwasniewski, out of Las Vegas, Nevada, scored the Menards Pole Award during qualifying for Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real at Daytona with a lap of 49.400 seconds (182.186 mph).
Kwasniewski inherited the pole after provisional pole-sitter Bobby Gerhart’s time was disallowed following post-qualifying inspection. Gerhart has now been axed from the qualifying sheets in two of his last three attempts at Daytona, after also having his time disallowed in 2012. Gerhart came back to win the 2012 race on a last lap pass.
“It’s an honor to sit on the front row at Daytona,” Kwasniewski said post-qualifying of his efforts. “Now we just have to get it done in the race tomorrow.”
“I think how our race plays out is going to have a lot to do with pit strategy. It’s gonna be tough to stay up there, but if we can manage that we should have a shot at it. It’s going to be a learning curve every lap tomorrow for sure.”
Kwasniewski adds that his confidence is at a high going into tomorrow’s event, citing that as key in his ultimate goal of winning the event tomorrow evening.
“You have to be confident in what you’re doing when you’re out there. Just to be at Daytona at 18 is pretty crazy.”
The pole makes the Sin City native two-for-two in his career in ARCA qualifying efforts. Kwasniewski scored the pole in his first career ARCA start last October at Kansas for Venturini Motorsports and finished fourth to eventual race winner Frank Kimmel.
Grant Enfinger qualified second-quick overall, with a quick lap of 49.577 seconds (181.536 mph), and Roulo Brothers Racing driver Buster Graham clocked in third-fastest with a lap of 49.588 seconds (181.496 seconds).
Venturini Motorsports pilot Mark Thompson (49.603; 181.441) and NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie Chase Elliott (49.651; 181.265) completed the top five qualifiers on the grid for tomorrow’s 80-lap, 200-mile event.
Elliott, the youngest superspeedway winner in ARCA Racing Series history, will be making his first start at Daytona, just like his protege Kwasniewski.
“I’ll just play (the race) by ear,” Elliott said of getting up on the wheel at the 2.5-mile “World Center of Racing” track. “I’m sure it will be wild.”
Other notables in tomorrow’s field include sophomore ARCA competitor Mason Mitchell (6th), defending series champion Kimmel (19th) and Truck Series regular Jeb Burton (24th), who will be competing for ThorSport Racing this weekend and in next Friday night’s Truck event.
In total, four of the fastest 10 cars through qualifying had times disallowed by series officials. Venturini Motorsports drivers Leilani Munter and Justin Boston’s two-lap times were disallowed due to coil spring mount violations. Gerhart and Cunningham Motorsports driver Tyler Reddick had their times disallowed for rear suspension violations.
A fifth car, the No. 23 of Spencer Gallagher, was disqualified for use of a mechanical lowering device.
Following the technical inspection being completed, which took two additional hours due to the circumstances extending the length of the process, the starting lineup was set based on the qualifying speeds and provisionals.
The season-opening ARCA Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real at the Daytona International Speedway takes the green flag tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM Eastern Time, with live TV coverage on FOX Sports 1 and live timing and scoring on arcaracing.com.
Listen in as we caught up with Dylan shortly after he claimed the pole for tomorrow’s ARCA event and heard about his outlook on both his ARCA chances and his upcoming Nationwide run next weekend: