NASCAR Next sweeps K&N podium at Iowa
June 08, 2013, Brad Norman, NASCAR.com
Michael Self, Dylan Kwasniewski and Brett Moffitt finish 1-2-3 in East-West combined race
Michael Self had quite the afternoon at Iowa Speedway when he was one of 13 drivers announced as part of the 2013 NASCAR Next class. His night wasn’t bad, either.
Hours after the NASCAR Next announcement, Self pulled away from the field late in the Casey’s General Store 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race that went nine laps past the scheduled distance. Driving the No. 21 Chevrolet, Self held off a pair of fellow NASCAR Next members over a series of late cautions.
"The NASCAR Next program is about the next rising stars, and I think we’re definitely representing the class of 2013 well."
--runner-up Dylan Kwasniewski
Self, who competes in the K&N Pro Series West, won for the second consecutive race. It’s also the first time that a Pro Series West driver won a points-paying combination race. A K&N Pro Series East driver had won the previous eight races, including seven at Iowa.
“It was just an unbelievable night,” Self said. “We were about 20th in practice, but we knew we just had to stay motivated and stay positive and know the car is going to come to us. We just paced ourselves and knew once the sun went down we’d have something. The car absolutely came to life.”
Dylan Kwasniewski and Brett Moffitt finished behind their NASCAR Next comrade, taking second and third, respectively. In the books, Kwasniewski is credited with a K&N Pro Series East win. Moffitt earned his sixth top-five in seven starts at his hometown track.
Kwasniewski was at Iowa racing instead of in Las Vegas with his high school classmates. The 18-year-old’s graduation was Friday; he received his diploma in the mail.
“Racing’s too important to miss,” the driver said. “Being here at Iowa is a lot better for sure.”
Moffitt was the crowd favorite -- he's from Grimes, Iowa, a small town about 45 miles west of the track. He outdistanced Greg Pursley (fourth) and Ben Rhodes (fifth), a fourth NASCAR Next selection in the top five.
“To come up short when we had a great race car is tough, but I guess there’s always the fall race,” Moffitt said. “It was a good night for the (NASCAR Next) guys. It definitely shows they made the right picks.”
Self ceded the lead only once over the final 50 laps, to Moffitt on a restart. Once he realized the inside lane wasn’t working, Self used the high side of the track to regain the lead -- and he chose the outside lane on all ensuing restarts.
“Throughout the race I thought we were a better long-run car,” Self said. “We’d pull away and never stop pulling away. We’re really happy with the win … restarts at the end can be nerve-racking.”
Of the 11 cautions, two of the biggest incidents came late. Austin Hill hit the wall hard with 30 laps remaining, sending thick plumes of smoke into the night.
On Lap 143, Eric Holmes and Mackena Bell wrecked in Turn 2 in a battle for ninth. Holmes’ No. 16 Toyota took most of the damage, and the race was briefly red-flagged, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
“It was great race,” Kwasniewski said. “Me and Brett put on a good show battling (for second). I don’t think anybody could have caught Michael. I think this race just goes to show the drivers of the future. The NASCAR Next program is about the next rising stars, and I think we’re definitely representing the class of 2013 well.”