BNS: Lake Erie: Matt Kobyluck race report

Matt Kobyluck's first visit to Lake Erie Speedway, located in North East, Pennsylvania, rewarded him with a fourth place finish in Sunday's Local Dodge Dealers 150, the third NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of the 2003 ...

Matt Kobyluck's first visit to Lake Erie Speedway, located in North East, Pennsylvania, rewarded him with a fourth place finish in Sunday's Local Dodge Dealers 150, the third NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of the 2003 season. Kobyluck moved up four places in the series points standings as a result of his second consecutive fourth place finish (he was also fourth in last weekend's race at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway), from ninth to fifth.

Following two hours of practice on Saturday, the Mohegan Sun Racing team went to work deciding what changes would be needed for Sunday's qualifying and 150-lap race. Those changes worked well for qualifying, and Kobyluck recorded the fourth best lap of the Sunday morning time trials session. He commented on the track, which is a new addition to the Busch North schedule.

"It's a fun facility," he said. "The track's got some banking where you can run two grooves, and it's got a lot of grip, so it's going to make for some good racing. We're looking forward to it. We just have to bide out time, keep the nose clean, and get there to the end. We'll make it to the halfway point, make any adjustments we'll have to make, take on a couple tires, and see how it plays out. The Mohegan Sun Casino Chevrolet is looking good today, so we're going to try to come out of it with a victory."

Kobyluck, starting fourth, fell to sixth with fifty laps in the books, but made up those positions when two drivers in front of him got together and got out of the groove. He was running fourth when the five-minute halfway break was reached, and the crew changed right-side tires and adjusted the car to make it less tight. They also hooked the car up to the cooldown machine for a couple minutes.

When the race returned to green, the field was set in the order it reached the halfway break, Kobyluck moved to third place briefly, but was put back to fourth at the hundred-lap mark. He had to fight off challenges to his fourth position from Dave Dion late in the going, but held on to that spot to the finish, recording his second top-five finish of the season.

"We qualified fourth, ran in the top five for the whole race, and finished fourth. I can't complain about that," he said after the race. "The Mohegan Sun Chevrolet performed pretty much the same the whole day. It was just a little tight in the center of the corner and that pretty much set the stage for us the whole race. I couldn't really get up underneath anybody and stay in the throttle because it was a little too tight, and I couldn't get on the outside and maintain momentum because it was a little too tight. So we stayed with what we had, I protected the bottom of the racetrack and anybody that passed me went on the outside of me.

"We came out of there in fourth place," Kobyluck continued. "We'll just keep clicking off top fives and we'll be there at the end of the year again, no doubt about it. The car was tight, but once it got to a certain stage it never got any worse, so that's the good part about it. If it continually got worse, then you have more of a problem than just getting tight. We had a decent car, and I drove my butt off to stay in fourth. All in all it was a good day for the team, we're getting back in our rhythm and just keep progressing forward from here."

Next Saturday night brings the Busch North Series to Seekonk Speedway, where Kobyluck won the first of two races last year on his way to finishing second in the championship standings.

"We're going back to repeat our win there from last year and we're optimistic about it," he said. "The cars are performing the same way they did last year, even though we had a few rule changes that everybody thought were going to change the cars around, but they're pretty much performing the same way so I'm looking forward to going back there and putting on a similar show to what we did there last year."

-ajc-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Matt Kobyluck