Dylan Kwasniewski said he thought he had a top-10 car, but going into the wall for the second day in a row ended any chances of a triumphant return to Las Vegas.
A bump from Chris Buescher on lap 70 sent Kwasniewski, a Faith Lutheran High School graduate, into the wall on Turn 3. That led to a 24th-place finish in the Boyd Gaming 300 on Saturday in Kwasniewski’s first NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“That’s a shame, but you can’t dwell on it,” the 18-year-old said. “Just like I wasn’t dwelling on it yesterday, I moved on from that.
“It’s unfortunate. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. I’m ultimately to blame, but it’s one of those things. It’s a racing incident, and it’s unfortunate it caused so much damage to the car.”
By finishing the race, however, Kwasniewski collected enough points for eighth in the standings three events into the season.
But it wasn’t quite the return he had hoped for. He also crashed his No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet in practice Friday.
“It definitely sucks,” Kwasniewski said. “I was expecting to come to my hometown and be able to do good, and I knew that we had a good car. I’m looking forward to coming back here next year and hopefully redeeming myself.”
■ SPEEDING THROUGH — Another Las Vegan had a what-could-have-been day.
Brendan Gaughan, driving the No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevy, was penalized twice for speeding on pit road. Those infractions, as well as another later for jumping the restart that sent him to the back of the line, helped lead to a 16th-place finish.
“I came in and got caught speeding the first segment, and I knew right where I got caught speeding,” Gaughan said. “Nobody to blame but myself. Then I compounded the problem where you could minimize it, but I got caught speeding again on the way out serving the penalty. So it’s just stupid on my part. You can’t do those things.”
Gaughan was glad the finish didn’t badly damage his place in the standings because Sprint Cup drivers made up five of the top six places and are ineligible for the points title. He is seventh in the standings.
“When you look at the whole season, you’ve got to find ways to minimize, you’ve got to find ways to lose as few points as you can off bad days,” he said. “We’ll go to Bristol (this week), and I’ll kick some ass at Bristol.”
■ GIVING THE GAS — Evan Marchal knew the importance of teamwork and moving fast when he was an offensive lineman at UNLV.
That has helped him as the gas man for Clint Bowyer, where 11-second pit stops are critical for a driver’s success.
“You want to do your best for the driver, for the crew chief and for everybody else on the team,” Marchal said. “You don’t want to be that guy slacking.”
Marchal, 25, is in his first season with Bowyer. He played for the Rebels from 2007 to 2010, finding his way to a racing team following graduation and working his way up to Sprint Cup.
“I started at the bottom,” Marchal said. “I did anything I could.”
Racing and football are quite similar. Marchal said the team watches video of the pit stops, and he stays in shape so that lifting the 90- to 100-pound gas can will go smoothly.
Working with Bowyer has been fun, but Marchal knows today’s Kobalt 400 will be as serious as those football games at Sam Boyd Stadium.
“(Bowyer’s) a funny guy,” Marchal said. “He’s always joking around. But come race time, he wants to win. That fuels you to do your best and do everything you can.”
■ DAILY DOUBLE — Las Vegas native Kurt Busch made big news this past week with the announcement he would compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte on May 25.
Busch loses 7 pounds during a usual race day, so he will take his doctor on a private plane between Indy and Charlotte and receive IV fluids. To prepare for the strain, he is making sure to get in running and yoga and be mindful of his diet.
“It’s a matter of trying to catch all areas where I’m going to be challenged,” Busch said. “The training regimen I’ve been on is a boot-camp style, martial-arts-infused sequence three days a week.
“Whatever it takes to make this happen, we’re going to give it our best effort. I’m lining up as many people as I can to help with it.”
■ PENALTIES — NASCAR will examine Nationwide race winner Brad Keselowski’s right rear shock and make an announcement early this week on whether penalties will be levied. He wouldn’t lose the race, but could be fined and owner Roger Penske could be docked points.
Also, Chase Elliott was found to have his left front too low and will be penalized. He was fifth, the highest-placing full-time Nationwide racer.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.