Keeping Pace

SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2012, 7:44 A.M.

Michael Self Captures First K&N West Win At Brainerd

Michael Self navigates the road course at Brainerd. (Photo Credit: Adam Bettcher/NASCAR)
Michael Self navigates the road course at Brainerd. (Photo Credit: Adam Bettcher/NASCAR)

Moving to second place with 10 laps left in the Brainerd 125, Utah's Michael Self chased down leader Dylan Kwasniewski to take the lead on the white flag lap. From there it was clear sailing for the 21-year old's first career victory on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

BRAINERD, Minn. – Michael Self scored his first career win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with a victory in the Brainerd 125 at Brainerd International Raceway on Saturday.

The 21-year-old from Park City, Utah chased down Dylan Kwasniewski in the closing stages of the inaugural series race on the 2.5-mile road course and took the lead coming to the white flag. Kwasniewski, who had dominated the competition, was battling transmission issues as the race wound down.

Self had run in third behind teammates Kwasniewski and Greg Pursley for most of the race. He picked off Pursley with 10 laps to go and then overcame more than a three-second deficit with five to go to get to the lead. He made the move past Kwasniewski entering Turn 9 on the 48th lap and pulled away in the No. 21 Rockwell/Golden Gate Meat/RCR Chevrolet to win by a margin of 4.859 seconds.

“I had my eye on them since the first lap of the race, I knew they were going to be there in the end, they always are,” Self said of Kwasniewski and Pursley. “We were just super-calm, super-easy on the equipment and that’s exactly what it took at the end there.

Despite the mechanical problems, Kwasniewski held on to finish second and has podium finishes in five of six races this year.

“For the last 10 laps, it kept popping out of gear, so I was driving those last laps with my hand on my shifter to try to keep it in place,” Kwasniewski said. “And those last two laps when I went off over there [Turn 9], I completely lost it. I didn’t have second gear, it kept popping out, and finally went away.”

Pursley was third, with Derek Thorn fourth and David Mayhew fifth. Completing the top 10 were Eric Holmes, Jonathon Gomez, Austin Dyne, Dylan Hutchison and Carl Harr.

With his win, Self locked up a spot in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at the UNOH Battle At The Beach at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway next February during Speedweeks.

Kwasniewski, meanwhile, was able to extend his lead by two points in the championship standings. The 16-year-old from Las Vegas, who led a race high 32 laps on Saturday, has 263 points over Pursley with 246. Mayhew is third, followed by Thorn and three-time series champion Holmes.

Self, who had a previous best finish of fourth in 33 series starts, moved from eighth to sixth in the standings. He is followed by Gomez, Cameron Hayley, Daryl Harr and Dyne.

The Brainerd race featured eight lead changes among five drivers. It was slowed by just one caution.

This was the sixth event on a 15-race schedule and the second of four road course races for the series this year.

The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule will be the Star Nursery 200 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 2.

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.