April 21, 2012
By Donalde z Smith
This weekend was wonderful for NASCAR Fans.
NASCAR Race Mom was pleased to watch Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Friday (Nationwide); Greg Biffle, break his race losing streak (of 49 races and 18 months) to win the Samsung Mobile 500 on Saturday (Sprint Cup); and Kasey Kahne win the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200 on Sunday (Camping World Truck Series).
However, if you know me, you are aware of my dedicated passion for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (KNPSW). Now in its 58th season, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West can be traced back to 1954, when NASCAR came to the West Coast and began sanctioning the Pacific Coast Late Model circuit.
Early in its 2012 season, NASCAR Race Mom wants to remind you that the K&N Pro Series West, a NASCAR developmental series that features tomorrow's NASCAR stars, might be coming to a race track near you*. Names like Pernelli Jones, Hershel McGriff, Kevin Harvick, and David Gilliland have graduated from the series. Do not miss an opportunity to watch a 'West' race in person if possible.
Photo Courtesy NASCAR Home Tracks
L to R - Bill France Jr., Hershel McGriff, Richard Petty
On Saturday, NRM was able to “watch” a KNPSW race via both the computer coverage at NASCAR Home Tracks’ Lap by Lap and Racing West Near Live. I actually had both sites open on separate browsers so not to miss a second of the exciting 150 lap Toyota/NAPA 150 presented by Gene Price Motorsports at Havasu 95 Speedway.
The car count was good and three entries had to be sent home.
Derek Thorn, who recorded his first career ‘Coors Light Pole Award’ earlier in the day, battled for the majority of the race with the 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Dylan Kwasniewski before charging ahead for the win.
The race runner-up, David Mayhew managed to remain in the top-ten for the first hundred laps of the competition. Conversely, his No. 17 MMI Services/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet began a charge after the double file restart on lap 103. He advanced to the third position on lap 124 and took second place on lap 142. However, with only eight laps remaining, Mayhew had to settle for a close second. Kwasniewski rounded out the podium in third.
The series is scheduled to appear next on April 28th at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. Going into race three of the fifteen race schedule, it is not surprising that the three skilled drivers mentioned above, each have top-five finishes in the first two races of 2012.
David Mayhew: The current point’s leader won the season opener and finished second on Saturday.
Derek Thorn: Second in the points, Derek finished fifth in the season opener and won on Saturday.
Dylan Kwasniewski: The very fast yet consistent sixteen-year-old, Kwasniewski finished second in the season opener and third on Saturday. He is third in the point’s standings.
A mere six point separate the top three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West drivers. Therefore, who will be on top of the points after Utah is anyone’s guesstimate. 2012 could be one of the most exciting years in series history.
Although NASCAR Race Mom was not able to attend the race in person, I managed to interview the top three drivers.
Derek Thorn Interview:
NRM - Congratulations on your win! Can you tell us how it felt to win the race from pole?
Derek Thorn – “Winning at the K&N level for the first time just shows how hard Bob Bruncati, Bill Sedgwick and the entire Sunrise Ford Team have been working to give me such great equipment. With the track conditions as they were, we were hoping for a good qualifying run to give us track position and qualifying on the pole gave us the best starting spot in the house. It was awesome being able to bring home the win.”
NRM - You battled with Dylan Kwasniewski for most of the race. How did you feel racing the youngster – did it make you nervous that Dylan is only sixteen and in just his second year in the series?
Derek Thorn – “Racing with Dylan was fun, he raced me clean. He could have used the bumper multiple times but ran a real clean race. With age Dylan will only continue to get better. It's great seeing someone as young as Dylan running up front. I wish I could have had similar opportunity at sixteen to help boost my career.”
David Mayhew Interview:
NRM - Congratulations on your second place finish. Please tell us about your late race surge to the front – was that your race strategy – did you start the charge a bit too late – had you planned on one more late race yellow?
David Mayhew – “My plan wasn't really to wait until the end but it seemed like every time we got close to the front we would re-start on the outside and couldn't go. I felt like we had a fast car the whole time just couldn’t get in the right spot for show it. When it finally went green for a while we worked our way right to the front.”
NRM - What are your plans for the rest of this year?
David Mayhew –“We are planning on running the entire west schedule but if something comes up for a truck or Nationwide race we would for sure do that as well.”
Dylan Kwasniewski Interview:
NRM - Congratulations on your third place finish! Tell us about your battle with the race winner, Derek Thorn – did you use up your tires before the end of the race?
Dylan Kwasniewski –“ Derek had a good car, it looked to me like he was having trouble on several re-starts keeping it down, and my car felt really comfortable on the outside, so I figured that was going to be my best shot. The tires were actually perfect at the end of the race; think we just missed something in the set-up.”
NRM - Where do you think your first win of the year will come?
Dylan Kwasniewski – “I'd like my first win to come soon. We've got Miller coming up and since I had bad luck there last year, winning would be awesome. I like the short tracks and Stockton is a new track for the WEST, I think I have a shot there and then my home track at the Bullring would be awesome.”
* You can find the complete NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule here - If the opportunity arises; go to a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Event. You will not be disappointed!
If you would like to learn more about Donalde z Smith, please check out her web site at NASCAR Race Mom.
You can contact Donalde z Smith at .. Insider Racing News
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