October 18, 2013 – By Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online – BRASELTON, Ga. – The crown, if you please.
That was all Dylan Kwasniewski needed to say as he flashed under the checkered flag this afternoon in the K&N Pro Series East season finale at Road Atlanta. And did he ever say it, not just in his wild Victory Lane celebration, but in his sheer dominance of this afternoon’s Road Atlanta 115.
The Las Vegas, Nevada native and Turner-Scott Motorsports standout led from the pole after qualifying was cancelled due to weather, and he never looked back after grabbing the lead in Turn 1 of the first lap. Kwasniewski led all 28 laps en route to his sixth victory of the 2013 East series season and 11th overall K&N Pro Series victory (including 5 West victories). The win sealed the KNPSE championship for the 18-year-old, who becomes the first driver in the history of the K&N Pro Series to win a title in both the East and the West divisions.
“We did it!” Kwasniewski said following the event as the celebration began. “I had all the faith in the world in this team, and together we finished the year exactly how we started it, celebrating a win!”
Daniel Suarez chased Kwasniewski for the majority of the 28 lap event, but could never mount enough of a charge to challenge for the win and came home second. His Rev Racing teammate Bryan Ortiz completed the podium in third.
Andrew Ranger charged from the back of the 25-car starting grid and further showcased his road racing abilities, notching a fourth place finish, and rookie Cole Custer, a two-time winner this season at Iowa and Loudon, finished his 2013 season in fifth.
Ben Kennedy, Scott Heckert, Brandon Gdovic, Dale Quarterly and Austin Dyne rounded out the top ten in a race marred by attrition.
The most serious casualty of that attrition was the championship runner-up coming into the event, Brett Moffitt, who went out of the event after completing just seven of the race’s 28 laps with a transmission failure. Moffitt has been the perennial bridesmaid in the K&N East ranks, with a blown tire in 2011, a last-lap crash in 2012, and this year’s mechanical failure among the series of heartbreaks that have derailed Moffitt’s title hopes the past four years. With his runner-up standing in this year’s points, the Grimes, Iowa native has now finished second in the K&N East points race three times in the past five seasons and has never finished worse than third in the final standings, but again, he was forced to watch the championship slip away.
Mackena Bell (stalled), Matt Tifft (oil line) and Ryan Gifford (crash damage) were also casualties of a very physical event that surprisingly only saw one caution, on the opening lap for the stalled #44 of Akinori Ogata.
With his sixth win on the year, Kwasniewski ties Brad Leighton for second-most wins in a single season in the East series, behind Ricky Craven’s ten-win season in 1991.
Jesse Little, who finished 16th, netted Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
Kwasniewski will be honored for his 2013 championship at the NASCAR Night of Champions banquet at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in December along with the rest of the touring series champions.
Photo Credit: Speed51.com
Unofficial Results – Road Atlanta 115