Matt Kobyluck was having a spectacular day at his home track of Waterford Speedbowl, which held Saturday night's Waterford 150, the eighth NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of the season. Kobyluck earned his career first Bud...
Matt Kobyluck was having a spectacular day at his home track of Waterford Speedbowl, which held Saturday night's Waterford 150, the eighth NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of the season. Kobyluck earned his career first Bud Pole Award in qualifying for the race, and then entertained approximately 350 guests of Kobyluck Enterprises at the track. He led 50 of the first 53 laps of the race, but got caught up in an accident on lap 54, the damage from which forced him to retire from the event.
Fifth fastest in the afternoon practice session, Kobyluck and his Mohegan Sun Racing team prepared his Chevrolet for qualifying. The eighteenth of 24 cars attempting to qualify for the race, Kobyluck posted the fastest time at 15.047 seconds (79.750 MPH) around the third-mile oval. It was his first Bud Pole Award for the fifth-year Busch North driver.
"We were happy with the car in practice, and we made a few changes just before qualifying, and we're going to race it just like this," he said after qualifying. "I was real happy and comfortable with the car so I didn't care if it's not the fastest thing for two laps, as long as it was comfortable on a fifteen-lap run. To pull off the pole at the home track is a great way to start the day."
Kobyluck led the first lap of the Waterford 150, but surrendered the lead to Ryan Moore for two laps before reassuming the top spot on lap four. Mike Olsen caught Kobyluck but the two ran nose-to-tail through an early yellow and towards the race's one third-distance mark.
"The car was performing flawlessly," he said. "It was really good, me and Olsen were just cruising along and checking out. What the car does at fifty laps is usually what it'll do at 150 laps, and at 50 laps the car was almost perfect. I was looking forward to keeping on going, but things took a turn for the worse."
On lap 54, Carey Heath spun in the first turn and Kip Stockwell was also involved. Kobyluck approached the accident but couldn't avoid it as he had a lapped car underneath him, and he slid into Heath's stopped machine.
"The only thing I can come up with is that there had to be some fluid on the track," he explained. "I saw the wreck, my spotter was telling me to go low. I saw Carey spun out in front of me. I couldn't go low because I was passing a lapped car at the time, so I was kind of committed to where I was. There was a big hole to go through and when I got in there and cut down to get away from Carey, the car didn't turn, so there had to be some fluid on the track, I just went straight into it."
Kobyluck pitted his Mohegan Sun Chevrolet where the crew assessed the damage. The radiator and upper radiator hose were damaged too severely to be repaired in time to rejoin the race, so Kobyluck was forced to retire from the event in 24th place.
"It was disappointing," he said. "After sitting on the pole and leading 50 of the first 53 laps, things were definitely going good. But we went from the penthouse to the outhouse in one lap. But that goes to show you, when it's not your day, it's not your day, whether you're leading the race or running 20th. We'll bounce back. We just keep plugging away and approach every week as if it's a brand new week, and you forget about what happened the week before."
Next weekend was supposed to be an off-weekend for the Busch North Series, but a rained-out event at Seekonk Speedway, originally scheduled for May, will be run this Saturday at the Seekonk, Massachusetts third-mile track. Kobyluck is the defending winner of the Budweiser 150, having held off Bill Penfold for his first of two 2002 season wins on his way to finishing second in the championship points standings.
"With everything we've learned in the past three or four weeks with the tires and the chassis, we're excited about going to Seekonk," Kobyluck said. "We'll be able to really defend our title as race winner from last year, and really put on a good show."