Dylan Kwasniewski took another step in his promising NASCAR career.
The Las Vegan has signed a developmental deal with Chip Ganassi Racing, putting him on a pathway to a possible Sprint Cup career.
But Ganassi cautioned that signing Kwasniewski, an 18-year-old rookie in the Nationwide Series for Turner Scott Motorsports, wasn’t done with the idea of rushing him, saying he was at least “two years away.”
“We think Dylan’s a pretty unique talent,” Ganassi said. “He’s certainly been impressive. You can see he certainly has a pedigree that we look for as a team. Some people also say he’s a marketer’s dream, so that’s always a good thing in this sport.”
Sunday’s announcement capped what otherwise was a disappointing debut for Kwasniewski at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He crashed cars in practice Friday and in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300, finishing 24th.
Now Kwasniewski has something to look forward to in working with a Cup team that includes Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.
“To be associated with an organization as great as Chip Ganassi Racing, it’s a dream come true,” Kwasniewski said. “It allows you to be with the best possible team and the best possible way to get to the top.”
■ OTHER LOCALS — Native Las Vegans Kyle and Kurt Busch didn’t have quite as good a Sunday as Kwasniewski.
Kyle Busch, though, appeared as if he would be a strong challenger at the end of the Sprint Cup Kobalt 400. He overcame two poor pit stops to rally from 41st to first place and led for 52 laps.
But he wound up 11th in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, saying the car kept “getting looser and looser, especially on the last run. Just disappointing when we looked like we had a good car earlier in the race.”
Crew chief Dave Rogers said it was difficult to pinpoint what went wrong.
“Through passing cars and pit strategy, we took the lead and showed a lot of speed,” Rogers said. “But even when we were leading, we saw some guys catching us, and we knew there were some cars faster than us. So we started working on it, and just seemed like the more we worked on it, the more we slowed it down. Maybe we should have held what we had.”
Kurt Busch, in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, finished 26th to continue his frustration of usually not running well in his hometown.
■ BACK AT THE TRACK — Race winner Brad Keselowski benefited from having his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, back on pit road.
Wolfe flew to North Carolina and missed the March 2 race at Phoenix so he could be home for the birth of his son, Caden. Keselowski finished third in that race.
“It was a big week for me last week and something very special that you can’t compare to a race win,” Wolfe said. “It’s a total different feeling. I’m fortunate to have a great family that supports me, and I’m fortunate to have a great company like Team Penske behind me to know that I could leave the racetrack for such a special day for me and we could still go out there and run like we did.
“That’s just a testament to everyone on this team and all the hard work we’ve put in. Not planning on taking any more days off, though. It was tough to watch that one on TV, for sure.”
■ EARLY END — Kevin Harvick looked strong in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Chevy, even leading for 23 laps. But his hopes of winning were halted when mechanical problems forced him out with 30 laps left.
“It’s hard to complain,” Harvick said. “These guys on this Jimmy John’s Chevrolet have given me cars that are good every week. Just a little parts failure there, and we will figure out the cause of it and try to just keep that from happening. Every week is a new notebook for us. I really think as we get established and get some foundation for our setups and just the little things, this team is going to be dangerous.”
■ NO REPEAT — Defending Las Vegas champion Matt Kenseth finished 10th in the No. 20 Gibbs Toyota, calling it a “very tough day.”
“We just kind of struggled most of the weekend,” he said. “We got some decent track position there, just couldn’t really go anywhere.
“It was about all we could do. We’ve just got to get better.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.