BNS: Seekonk: Matt Kobyluck race report

Matt Kobyluck wins Budweiser 150 at Seekonk Speedway. Matt Kobyluck won his second career NASCAR Busch North Series race Saturday night when he won the Budweiser 150 at the third-mile Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Kobyluck, who won...

Matt Kobyluck wins Budweiser 150 at Seekonk Speedway.

Matt Kobyluck won his second career NASCAR Busch North Series race Saturday night when he won the Budweiser 150 at the third-mile Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Kobyluck, who won his first race last August at the one-mile Nazareth Speedway, took the lead from Bill Penfold just four laps from the end of the race's scheduled distance and held the lead through a green-white-checker finish.

In afternoon practice, Kobyluck's team tried different setups on their Mohegan Sun Chevrolet and found its performance lacking. Before qualifying, they went back to a tried-and-true shock absorber combination and that was good enough to set the third fastest lap in time trials. After qualifying, the top eight drivers redrew their starting positions and Kobyluck would start the race in eighth place.

"We wanted to try something new to see if we could get the car to react the way we wanted it to," he said afterwards. "As it turned out, we couldn't get the car to react the way we wanted it to so we went back to what we tested here with, went out there and timed, and turned the third fastest lap. I said to Perry [Waite, crew chief] after time, 'The car was pretty decent, I was able to get out there and get up on it and drive the thing. It responded for us so let's just leave it. Don't touch a thing. Take the tape off the grill, fill it up, and let's go racing'."

Kobyluck found the going tough in the early stages of the race, especially when many of the first 30 laps were run under the caution flag. While running caution laps at 20 MPH, Kobyluck's car started to overheat.

"The car was running hot and the longer we ran under caution, the hotter it got," he said. "At one point, at the beginning of the race there, I figured for sure that I was going to have to pit. I told the crew that I was coming in but the race was going back to green so I decided to drop back in line. When we ran green, the car ran around 200 degrees, but when we ran under caution, it would go up to 240 or 250, almost 260 degrees a couple of times. When we ran around during the caution laps and the car was going to overheat on us and I thought we were going to have to pull in, I didn't want to give up the track position we earned. The NASCAR officials worked great with us. They kept the yellows as short as possible and we'd get right back to green."

With that problem seemingly solved, Kobyluck could concentrate on racing. He broke into the top five on lap 60 of the 150-lap event and, twenty laps later, he was fourth and racing side-by-side with Dale Shaw. He took third from Shaw and started chasing down the two leaders, Dave Dion and Mike Rowe.

Rowe got into Dion and spun him out of the lead, and, after caution came out, Rowe was sent to the rear of the field. Bill Penfold had passed Kobyluck before caution came out and assumed the lead, and when the race resumed, Kobyluck worked over Penfold for the top spot. With just seven laps to go, Kobyluck drove to Penfold's inside and the two ran side-by-side for three laps before Kobyluck assumed the top spot coming out of turn four. Going into turn one, Penfold tried to pass low, but caution came out for a spinning car in turn four and Penfold could not complete the pass. Kobyluck was declared the leader, and he held the top spot through the final green-white-checker restart to take his first win of the 2002 season.

"Bill dove in there and stuck it a little too hard, and drove it right into my door," Kobyluck said about Penfold's last pass attempt. "I went right out sideways, had the wheel cut all the way around and I thought I was going to go around. He checked up, he knew he drove in there a little too deep. Before that, we raced each other hard and it was so much fun out there. We had a blast out there as we were slicing and dicing. I would get underneath him and then he would go back by me and I'd drop back behind him. It was a fun race and I honestly was ready to settle for second because Billy looked like he had the car to beat. But the longer we ran, he started developing a push in the middle of the corners and I was able to stick the nose under there a couple of times and realized that I could get it in there and stay in there. So I backed up behind him and rode and just kept pushing him and pushing him and made the pass at the end there when I needed to.

"I'm tickled to death with the performance of the team so far this year," Kobyluck continued. "Everybody's on the same page, everybody knows what everybody's doing. I know I have matured a lot as a driver since I've come into this series. Four races into the season, we've got all top-five finishes, a win, and we're leading the points. This is where we want to be. We know it's going to be hard work to stay here the rest of the season but believe me, we're going to bust our tails to stay here and do everything we can to work with what we have and take what we can get, and that's what it's going to take in order to be a championship contender at the end of the season. I can see it coming together."

Kobyluck and the Mohegan Sun Racing team will look to make it two in a row when the Busch North Series returns to action on June 8th at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine.

--msr/ajc-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Matt Kobyluck