Ganassi signs Kwasniewski as development driver

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm •  Published: March 9, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Chip Ganassi Racing signed 18-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski to be its next development driver on Sunday, adding another top young talent to its stable.

Ganassi announced the deal with Kwasniewski shortly before the start of the NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kwasniewski's hometown track.

"Obviously, Dylan is a raw talent at this age, but we think he has all the pieces to excel," Ganassi said. "I think it's important to have a pipeline, and he's the next driver in that pipeline."

Ganassi said the teen probably is still a few years away from being ready for a NASCAR ride, but the development deal means Kwasniewski will get a head start in learning how to be a Sprint Cup driver. He'll see the inner workings of the Ganassi team, learning alongside its two drivers, Jamie McMurray and 21-year-old Kyle Larson.

"It's a dream come true," said Kwasniewski, who graduated from nearby Faith Lutheran High School last summer. "It definitely allows you the best possible way to get to the top. Hopefully I can show the entire organization that I'm here to race and here to make it in the sport."

Kwasniewski is in his first season as a full-time driver in the Nationwide Series for Turner Scott Motorsports, dramatically winning the pole in Daytona two weeks ago. He finished 24th in Saturday's Vegas race after a bump from Chris Buescher put him into the wall on the 70th lap, but he sits eighth in the overall Nationwide points standings through three races.

Kwasniewski won the K&N Pro Series West in 2012 and won the K&N Pro Series East last year, becoming the first driver to win both titles in back-to-back seasons and marking him as a future star.

Kwasniewski already is Larson's Nationwide teammate at Turner Scott, and he intends to lean on his fellow prodigy for advice and friendly competition. They're among a promising crop of young drivers including 18-year-old Chase Elliott, who finished fifth in Saturday's Nationwide race.

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