Dylan Kwasniewski has had some rough times of late in his rookie season in the Nationwide Series, but not in Saturday’s final practice round for Sunday’s Get to Know Newton 250 at Iowa Speedway.
The Las Vegas native covered the .875-mile track with a best speed of 135.077 mph, coming on the next-to-last of 46 laps he attempted in what was the weekend’s fourth and final practice for Sunday’s main event.
Ty Dillon was second-fast at 134.088 mph, followed by Austin Theriault (133.764 mph), Trevor Bayne (133.713) and Chad Boat (133.480).
Sixth- through 10th-fastest were Chase Pistone (133.254), Brian Scott (132.872), James Buescher (132.648), Ryan Reed (132.632) and Ryan Sieg.
Eleventh through 20th were Regan Smith (132.470), Dakoda Armstrong (132.403), Sam Hornish Jr. (132.236), Cale Conley (132.225), Michael McDowell (132.148), Elliott Sadler in 16th (132.109), Chris Buescher (132.098), Ryan Gifford in 18th (132.037), Landon Cassill (131.871) and Ryan Blaney (131.667).
One driver was conspicuous by his absence for not taking part in the final practice: Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott.
The 18-year-old Elliott had a good excuse: he was back in his suburban Atlanta home, preparing for his high school graduation.
Elliott is expected to be back in time later Saturday for qualifying, which is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.