LOS ANGELES--()--With just one race left in the season, 20-year-old rookie Austin Dyne managed to hang on to his Sunoco Rookie Championship lead driving his William Rast Sunrise Ford to a hard earned 12th place finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 race on Saturday night at All American Speedway.
“I decided to pass as many cars as I could in order to gain back some of the Rookie points we had lost”
“We rolled off the hauler for the first practice on Friday with a comfortable set-up and spent most of the time working on mileage,” said Dyne. For qualifying Dyne spent the first lap building heat into his tires, but on lap 2 the car got loose resulting in having to start 20th.
With a race strategy of being “patiently aggressive”, in order to protect his Sunoco Rookie Championship points lead, Dyne managed to work his way past the crashes and slower cars to 6th place by lap 35. “At that point I felt we had a car that could win this race,” Austin stated. But on a lap 50 restart, Austin was hit by a back-marker causing sufficient damage to have NASCAR call him into the pits for repairs. His Sunrise crew fixed the car and got him out in time to take a spot at the back of the field, but he was still on the lead lap.
Austin dug deep and managed to fight his way back to 10th place, when he was again involved in someone else’s wreck, causing him to lose a lap and go to the back of the field again. At the restart, Austin dug deeper and drove to the position of being the lapped car leader earning him NASCAR’s “Lucky Dog” award, allowing his car to get back on the lead lap on the next restart.
That restart came with 20 laps left. “I decided to pass as many cars as I could in order to gain back some of the Rookie points we had lost,” said Dyne. Austin did just that, and finished 12th.
The series now heads to the season finale, Casino Arizona 50, at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 10, where the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title will be decided – with Dyne holding a 4-point lead over Cameron Hayley.