Matt Kobyluck, sixth at Lime Rock, comes uJust short in BNS championship chase. Mohegan Sun Chevrolet driver Matt Kobyluck, a season-long contender for the NASCAR Busch North Series championship, finished sixth in Saturday afternoon's ...
Matt Kobyluck, sixth at Lime Rock, comes uJust short in BNS championship chase.
Mohegan Sun Chevrolet driver Matt Kobyluck, a season-long contender for the NASCAR Busch North Series championship, finished sixth in Saturday afternoon's rain-shortened season finale at Lime Rock Park. Kobyluck's fifteenth top-ten finish in nineteen races this year wasn't enough to wrest the championship lead from Andy Santerre, though, as Kobyluck had to settle for second place in the standings, just nine behind Santerre.
It took four days to get the Burnham Boilers 200 completed, and when it was run, it was significantly shortened. Following two weekends of trying to get a dry track to run practice and qualifying, the starting lineup was set by owner points, putting Kobyluck on the outside of the front row. Originally scheduled to be run on October 12th, the race was finally given the green flag on an overcast afternoon two weeks later.
Falling to second behind Brad Leighton in the race's opening laps, Kobyluck took the lead on the third lap and led a three-car breakaway from the rest of the pack. He gave up the lead on lap 20 when he made a planned pit stop for gas, returning to the race deep in the field.
Rain started falling again while the field was under a lap 25 caution. Kobyluck, sitting thirteenth, waited out the seventy-minute red flag as the rain stopped and track-drying activities began. Soon, the race cars were on the track to finish the job, and ran twenty caution laps before returning to green-flag racing.
Three laps were run before caution came out again, but in those three laps, Kobyluck moved to ninth. As the field was given the one-to-go signal before returning to green, officials announced to teams that there would be only five more laps of racing before the checkers were shown - making the total race distance 63 laps instead of 82. In those final five laps, Kobyluck worked his way to sixth but that was two positions short of where he needed to be in order to take the championship.
"I'm disappointed," he said after the race. "It's a disheartening way to end a season considering the season that we had. I have a problem with how the race was run today. We only ran a few laps of green after the rain delay, and that to me has not been what this series is about. When there's been questionable situations in the past, they've always said to come back, or let's get it in the right way, let's not nickel and dime it just for the sake of getting the race in.
"We knew, at the end of the race, we had the fastest car," Kobyluck continued. "With the proper circumstances to settle the championship under, we could have had a shot at winning the championship. Maybe we would have, maybe we wouldn't have, but we at least would have had the opportunity to. They didn't give us the opportunity to do that today. They took it out of our hands and gave us fourteen laps to try and get a race in. In the first twenty-five laps that we ran, everybody was going on the same pit strategy. Everybody had to pit and take on gas and get back out there, but what they did when they ran all those caution laps, they allowed all the cars that didn't pit to not have to pit, and that took the whole strategy part of the race out of the picture. All those cars that needed to come down pit road, didn't after they ran twenty five laps of caution just to dry the track. That allowed them to not have to pit and that took the championship race away. They basically decided the championship by running all those caution laps. That's not the way that our series should have ended after coming here three times to get the race in. There were other choices. We could have run more laps under green, or we could have not gone on the track so early to dry it. There's a lot of things that could have been done differently, but they were feeling pressure to get the show in so everybody didn't have to come back again. That's not the way the championship should be decided. We should be given the opportunity to race for the championship."
Kobyluck, while disappointed with the final race's finish, had nothing to be ashamed of after enjoying his best year yet in the series. He won two races (Seekonk and Dover), and finished in the top five eleven times.
"I'm not going to walk away with my head down over a second place finish in the championship standings," he said. "I'm real proud of my whole team and all that we've accomplished this year - it's a huge accomplishment. It's just disheartening to have it end the way it did. For my guys, who put their heart and soul into winning this championship this year and having a legitimate shot at doing it, and coming to a road course where we excel at, and having the fastest car at the end of the race, it's real disheartening. We're just going to suck it up and move on. We're just going to have to move on and try and take the championship next year."