Matt Kobyluck To Open 2005 Racing Season With NASCAR West Series Race in Phoenix
(Uncasville, Conn. - Jan. 20, 2005) - Matt Kobyluck, for the third straight year, will get a jump on his NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series competition by starting his season in late January, competing in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series' opening race at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. Kobyluck has entered his No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet in the January 30th United Rentals 100, part of the Copper World Classic weekend.
In his first visit to Phoenix, Kobyluck ran in the top three in practice and qualifying, and was running third in the race when a cut tire forced him out of the race. Last year, he started 24th after qualifying was rained out but ran through the field to finish third.
"I like the place," the Uncasville, Conn. driver said. "It's a good venue for us to go to. We've had good performances there the two times we've been there so far. It gets rid of the winter blues a little bit during the off-season, especially when it looks like the Busch North season isn't going to get started till later in the spring than it used to. That breaks up a seven-plus month stretch with no racing. Going out to race at Phoenix will keep everybody sharp. We've built a new car and a new motor to go out there with. We could potentially be competing with Kevin Harvick out there, so there's a lot of challenges to look forward to."
The biggest difference between the two previous races at Phoenix that Kobyluck has run and this year's edition is that while the previous races were 150 laps each, this year's race distance is 100 laps.
"That's going to mix things up a little bit. Phoenix is a place where tires make a difference, and now it's also going to be a fuel mileage race. It should be interesting with different strategies playing out," he said.
"The tires we're using will last 100 laps, but we don't know if they're going to be what you want to have on the car at the end, that remains to be seen. We might see guys coming in and taking on two tires, depending on what the rules of the event will be, whether they'll let us take on tires or not. We won't know that until we get out there."
The Phoenix West Series opener has dominated by NASCAR Nextel Cup star Ken Schrader in recent years, and with fellow Cup driver Kevin Harvick expected to run this year as well, Kobyluck will have an additional challenge to overcome if he wants to improve his best finish of third.
"When we ran third last year, we pretty much settled for third place," he said. "I definitely could have had second if I wanted to pressed the issue a little bit, but the way we came out of there the year before, when we cut a right front tire and ended up in the fence, we figured if we came out of there in third, it would have been a good day. I think we were one adjustment away from being in contention to win that race, and coming back with a brand new car and a brand new motor, we'll do what we're capable of doing. If we're in position to go for the win this year, then we're definitely going to go for it."
Practice for the United Rentals 100 will be held Saturday, January 29th, with qualifying set for Sunday morning. The race will be the final event of the afternoon's racing card, and will be broadcast live on HDnet television with coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.