Dylan Kwasniewski returned to Las Vegas, the city where he grew up, and had a good time watching the show “Zarkana,” going on a helicopter tour, driving out near Red Rock and taking in the sights of the Strip.
“Just been hanging out with my friends, and I got to take this girl on a date a couple of times,” Kwasniewski said. “Coming back to Vegas, you get to experience Vegas for what it is.
“I’ve never done any of these things, and I’ve lived in Vegas for so long. I decided to live life like a tourist.”
This is a business trip, though, and Kwasniewski was brought back to such reality when he put his No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet into the wall Friday coming out of Turn 4 during testing for today’s Boyd Gaming 300. He went to the infield care center, where he was examined and released.
The crash will force him into a backup car for the 1:15 p.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“We were just loose,” Kwasniewski said. “I should’ve pulled it in. I wanted to get more laps. I wanted to push it faster.”
He is hoping to land Nationwide Rookie of the Year and is facing a tough field that includes Ty Dillon and Chase Elliott. The Sprint Cup rookie class of eight is the largest in 20 years, so Kwasniewski, 18, could have tough competition for years to come.
He has limited experience on the 1½-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval. He drove on the front stretch in Legend cars when he was younger, and last year took part in the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
“When some people say ‘hometown advantage,’ I’m like, ‘You guys don’t get it,’ ” Kwasniewski said. “I’ve never been on this track before. Hopefully, I’ll have the advantage of my home crowd cheering me on and family and friends out here watching. It’s going to be a good experience.
“No matter what the finish is, just to be out here racing in front of these guys, to be at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where these guys have given me so much and helped me throughout my career, it’s a dream come true.”
■ NEUTRAL SITE — Las Vegas native Kyle Busch, 28, has dominated in Nationwide, having already won once this season by finishing first last weekend at Phoenix, giving him a series-leading 64 career victories.
“I’ve won a ton of races — I don’t know why it is — but I haven’t won here yet in Nationwide,” Busch said of his home track. “I’ve come close a couple of times on the flatter surface (before reconfiguration) … but there have been times where it’s also been stupid fast and stupid silly things that have bit me — blown tires and parts breaking and me spinning out and wrecking. This place has got one on me for sure.”
That turned out to be the case again in Friday’s Nationwide practice when his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Toyota went into the wall after blowing a tire, forcing Busch to go to his backup car.
Though Busch would love to end his dry spell today, winning Sunday’s Kobalt 400 Cup race is the higher priority.
He won the Sprint Cup race in 2009 at LVMS, but said a flat “no” when asked about receiving extra love at his hometown track compared to other stops.
“This is a vacation destination for a lot of race fans, so there are a lot of out-of-towners that do come here,” Busch said. “It’s not 100,000 from Las Vegas that will be sitting in these grandstands. I bet you it’s like 20,000 or 30,000, but it’s just part of the deal.
“Plus, when I was coming up through the ranks, I won a lot and probably won too much and didn’t make many friends. So I’m not sure I don’t have many pulling for me anyway because I kicked their butt too much.”
■ JUNIOR LIKES VEGAS — Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been voted NASCAR’s most popular driver 11 years in a row, and LVMS is pretty popular with him, too.
He was asked what makes this city different.
“The mystique of Vegas and the history of this town and how it was built,” Earnhardt said. “How it survives. I think the track certainly adopted that personality and the way the garage is built, the way the fans have access to us throughout practice …
“The track itself is an impressive facility when you compare it to other tracks on the circuit. Driving in here and when you’re inside and looking around, just the facility here for the media, it’s a really nice place and very representative of Las Vegas itself.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.