Kwasniewski signs development deal with Ganassi
March 09, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
18-year-old is in first full-time Nationwide Series season
LAS VEGAS -- Chip Ganassi Racing announced Sunday that it has signed 18-year old Dylan Kwasniewski to a driver development contract.
Ganassi made the announcement at Kwasniewski's hometown track -- Las Vegas Motor Speedway -- saying that not only does the former two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series champ come highly recommended for his talent behind the wheel, but Ganassi said grinning, he is a "marketer's dream, and that's good in this sport."
"We obviously think Dylan is a unique talent,’" Ganassi said in announcing the signing. "Only 18 years old and we're impressed by his statistics already. I'm just looking for someone who can wheel one of these things.
"He's a raw talent at this age, but we think he has all the pieces to excel. And I'm very happy to be here this morning in his hometown announcing this. It's important to have a pipeline and he's the next guy in our pipeline."
Ganassi said his current Cup drivers, rookie Kyle Larson and veteran Jamie McMurray, were both supportive of the team's move. And he stressed no one should read into anything in terms of McMurray's tenure with the team.
In fact, Ganassi said he would consider adding a third Cup team to his stable if that turned out to be the best scenario when Kwasniewski is ready to move up to the Cup ranks. He currently drives the No. 31 Rockstar Chevy for Turner Scott Motorsports in the Nationwide Series and Ganassi said he would expect at least a couple years in Nationwide before they'd look at moving him up.
"By no means is this connected to Jamie or to put pressure on him at all. I can assure you he has Jamie's full blessing," Ganassi said. "Every owner goes to his drivers and says, 'Is this guy the real deal or just a profiler' and they both said he's the real deal."
As for expansion?
"Obviously if it presents itself, this could mean a third car down the road. We're always open to those ideas and we'll take a look at it when it becomes time to cross that bridge," Ganassi said.
Considered one of the great young talents in NASCAR, Kwasniewski said he'd had conversations with other potential teams, but considered having Larson and McMurray as teammates a significant selling point.
"To be associated with an organization as great as Chip Ganassi Racing is a dream come true and allows you to be with the best possible team and the best possible way to get to the top,’" said Kwasniewski, who in February became the youngest pole-winner at Daytona International Speedway for the Nationwide Series season opener.
"I’m here to race and here to make it in the sport."
Kwasniewski, who was ranked fifth in the NNS championship before a crash in Saturday's race, is following a similar career path as Ganassi's former development driver Larson -- the 2013 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year driving for Turner Scott Motorsports.
In addition to teaming with Kwasniewski in a second full NNS season with TSM, Larson is now running for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors driving Ganassi’s No. 42 Target Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The two are good friends and both Kwasniewski and Ganassi are hopeful that will be helpful as they navigate the next steps in his career.
"These guys were just a great fit,’" Kwasniewski said. "It allows me to get even more engrossed with the sport and the team. I get to soak all this information in, soak it up every day, go to the shop and pick the brains of Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, a great driver and a great guy. Just to be surrounded by these guys is a great opportunity.
"I'm getting my bearings now and trying to show I can race clean and respectfully. It’' absolutely the best thing for us to have an opportunity to get to racing Sundays."