Ganassi signs Dylan Kwasniewski as development driver

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18-year-old Nationwide Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski’s tough homecoming at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has ended well enough with the news that he’s been signed as a development driver for Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR program.

Kwasniewski’s debut at LVMS in yesterday’s Boyd Gaming 300 was marred by an incident in which a bump from Chris Buescher sent him into the wall on Lap 70. That ultimately relegated the Vegas native to a 24th place finish.

But surely today’s announcement of his alliance with Ganassi will take some of the sting out of that result.

“I am extremely happy right now and thrilled to be getting this opportunity with Chip and the whole team,” Kwasniewski said in a Ganassi release.

“I have wanted to do nothing but race for as long as I can remember so this is a dream come true. I look forward to being part of Chip’s organization and will hopefully be a key contributor to its future success.”

Ganassi, who already has one potential superstar on his Sprint Cup side with rookie Kyle Larson, appears to be equally high on Kwasniewski.

“This young man has impressed us from the moment we saw him,” he said in the same release. “His poise, skill and determination on the race track are remarkable for someone so young.

“I am really looking forward to seeing him grow as a driver with each increase of competition. I think Dylan has a big future ahead of him in NASCAR.”

Kwasniewski currently races in the Nationwide Series for Turner Scott Motorsports, which also ran Larson full-time in NNS last year.

With Kwasniewski’s new partnership with Ganassi, the obvious thing is to wonder what this news could mean for the future of the team’s veteran Cup driver, Jamie McMurray (who led yesterday’s final practice session for today’s Kobalt 400).

Fox Sports has relayed Ganassi’s comments on the matter:

McMurray currently runs 10th in the Sprint Cup standings after the first two races of the year.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III