NNS: Dylan Kwasniewski to swap rides for stand-alone races

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Turner Scott Motorsports has announced that Dylan Kwasniewski will move to the No. 42 Chevrolet for five NASCAR Nationwide Series stand-alone races.

The first of those events will come this weekend at Iowa Speedway. Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson will continue to drive TSM’s No. 42 Nationwide Series car in companion events while continuing his Cup duties with Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the No. 42 car this week and for the remaining four stand-alone races,” Kwasniewski said in a statement. “I’m confident in all the guys at Turner Scott Motorsports, so it’ll be a great learning experience.”

Officially, Kwasniewski will be in the No. 42 for Iowa, Road America, Iowa II (August), Mid-Ohio and Kentucky. Larson will be in the No. 42 for the NNS event at Chicagoland since that falls on a Sprint Cup off-weekend, while Kwasniewski will go back to the No. 31 for that event.

“With Dylan being a [Chip Ganassi Racing] development driver, it will be a great learning experience for him and an overall win-win situation for both organizations,” said team co-owner Harry Scott.

Kwasniewski has piloted the No. 31 machine this Nationwide season, but at Iowa, that car will be taken over by Chase Pistone. He finished 13th this past March in the Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway, and has one previous start in Nationwide (Martinsville 2006, finished 37th).

Driver plans for the No. 31 in the remaining stand-alone races are yet to be determined.

We’ll see if the ride swap results in better performance from Kwasniewski. Since finishing eighth at the season opener in Daytona, he has finished in the Top-10 since.

In that span, his best finish has been an 11th at Fontana and he’s crashed out of the last two races at Richmond and Talladega.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “