Years from now we will remember Dylan Kwasniewski as a short track star for being the first (and perhaps the only) driver to win both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and East titles. Kwasniewski came from behind to win the West title in 2012. In 2013, he withstood a late-season swoon and dominated the season finale to lock down the East crown at Road Atlanta.
“To get both the West championship and the East, it is just amazing,” said Kwasniewski. “I broke records in the west and then that’s what I came out here to do. I wanted to be different than any of the other drivers that anyone has seen."
Different has been his approach. From his positive attitude off the track, his hard charging style on the track and his trademark flat brimmed hat, there is no mistaking Dylan Kwasniewski.
He quickly made a splash by starting the season with a win at Bristol in March. After that he slipped to fourth in points with off runs, including a seventh-place run at Florida's Five Flags Speedway on seven cylinders.
The summer came and Kwasniewski rattled off four podium finished and two wins. He went back-to-back in late August and September to win three races from the pole in his final five starts.
"I wanted to prove to everyone that I've gotten better and I can go out there and win races no matter what the circumstances are," added Kwasniewski. "With a team like Turner Scott Motorsports, in their first year in the series, we get a championship out of it with six wins - that is just unbelievable. It’s spectacular and it just shows how hard this organization works and how we never give up."
The second half of the season really took a change when Kwasniewski had some extra cameras following him around for "Flat Out," the 10 episode series on AOL on Video Channel. It was almost like dramatic fashion when the large lead built up by Kwasniewski disappeared with some poor runs at New Hampshire and Dover.
“It was a little bit weird actually,” said Kwasniewski. “You can’t say that having cameras following you around is normal but I wanted to be sure that I ended off the season and their entire production with a win. That’s what the fans wanted to see. They wanted to see how I was going to make it through the sport and I think by doing so, doing this and breaking records, it’s going to put me on perfect track to go up through the next levels. The fans wanted to see it and I sure as anything wanted to see it, so we just had to make it happen. We had to go into this last race and be focused and make sure we kept the car on the track at all times and we had to be smart.”
Now Kwasniewski is like every other driver in the off season. Making plans for 2014 and he's only as good as his last race which just happened to be a win and championship.
“During the sermon after the drivers meeting back at Road Atlanta the topic was wisdom,” said Kwasniewski. “And I was telling myself during that race that I had to be smart, I couldn’t over-drive it. I couldn’t take any chances that could put me in the wrong position. I just kept reminding myself of that. I knew my dad would want me to do it, I mean he was the one that started it all. He told somebody, ‘my son is going to become a NASCAR champion one day,’ and I know I did that last time but now I can say I’m a back-to-back champion.”
Kwasniewski's final potential gift to the NASCAR K&N and short track community was at the banquet. Where he asked everyone one to give him the thumbs up for a picture he took with his cell phone for his Twitter account. It could also have been a fitting sendoff to the champion, as Kwasniewski has announced that he will be competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2014, but the team has not yet been revealed.