Judging from his efforts this weekend in NASCAR Nationwide Series testing at Daytona International Speedway, 18-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski (pictured) appears to very much be a “morning person.”
For the second day in a row, the reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion led the morning session for Preseason Thunder on the 2.5-mile oval. Driving for Turner Scott Motorsports, Kwasniewski topped the charts with a lap at 190.022 mph, just ahead of Saturday leader Chase Elliott (189.950 mph) of JR Motorsports and former Camping World Truck Series champ James Buescher (189.921 mph) of RAB Racing.
According to Dustin Long of Motor Racing Network, Kwasniewski is aiming to run the ARCA Racing Series’ season opener at Daytona on Feb. 15 in order to gain approval to run the NNS’ 300-mile curtain-raiser one week later on Feb. 22.
Last year, in addition to his K&N East duties, he ran in a sole ARCA race at Kansas Speedway. But he made it count, converting a pole position to a fourth-place finish on the 1.5-mile oval.
Former Cup champion Bill Elliott continues his testing work for JRM this weekend, and he posted the fourth-fastest lap in the morning run (189.885). Richard Childress Racing’s Brendan Gaughan, returning to a full-time role in Nationwide this season, was fifth-fastest (189.881).
NATIONWIDE PRESEASON THUNDER – SUNDAY MORNING TIMES
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.