NASCAR Camping World Series East News & Notes Mohegan Sun 200 Road Course Huge Factor In Title Race Park Looking To Make It Two Straight After AIS Win Hernandez Making Most Of His Role Points Race Could Take A Turn At Lime ...
NASCAR Camping World Series East News & Notes
Mohegan Sun 200
Road Course Huge Factor In Title Race
Park Looking To Make It Two Straight After AIS Win
Hernandez Making Most Of His Role
Points Race Could Take A Turn At Lime Rock
Conventional wisdom says Ryan Truex (No. 00 NAPA Toyota) could be in trouble this weekend. After all, a rookie with virtually no road-course experience, heading to the high speed twists and turns of Lime Rock Park? Well, Truex turned conventional wisdom on its ear two months ago when he went to his first road-course race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and didn't just run well; he out-raced noted road-course experts Patrick Long and Matt Kobyluck for the victory.
Now, the 17-year-old hits the second and final road course on the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series East schedule in pretty good shape.
Not only does he bring the confidence from that performance, but he'll start Saturday's Mohegan Sun 200 with a 26-point lead over second-place Jody Lavender (No. 88 JoJo Ent./Custom Race Chassis Chevrolet).
Truex certainly brings plenty of momentum: Since finishing third at South Boston (Va.) Speedway on May 30, he has finished either first or second in the last four races.
Despite his recent run, the points battle remains closer than it ever has in the history of the series.
The top six drivers are all within 100 points, and with the intricacies of a road course, and the speedways of New Hampshire and Dover remaining, the standings could still fluctuate wildly.
Only three times have the top four drivers finished the season within 100 points of the champion.
Nobody knows the impact of Lime Rock on a title chase more than Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet), the defending series champion.
His win there last year was his second straight and third in the last four races on the 1.53-mile track. It allowed him to more than double his points lead--stretching it from 57 points over then second-place Trevor Bayne to a 135-point cushion over Bayne. Kobyluck went on to win the championship by 210 points over Austin Dillon.
"I like running road courses, it's a lot of fun," said Kobyluck. "Road-course racing is very technical and I've had a lot of success with that. I'm more of a technical driver than I am a freelance driver, so it fits my driving style well.
"When you've had success at something, it makes you that much more confident, and you're able to build on it when you go back."
Since 2001, Kobyluck has four wins, eight top fives and 11 top 10s in 14 road-course starts in the NASCAR Camping World Series East, leading 263 laps. At a place where starting position can be crucial, Kobyluck has started worse than fifth just twice in 10 starts at Lime Rock.
In 2002, Kobyluck arrived at Lime Rock -- then the final race of the season -- trailing Andy Santerre by 38 points. Weather and darkness conspired to end the race after 63 laps, and Kobyluck came up two positions shy of the championship. He finished sixth, while Santerre's 14th was enough to give him the title by nine points -- the third-smallest margin in series history.
As he looks to defend his championship, he is fourth in points, 67 back of Truex.
Eddie MacDonald (No. 71 Grimm Construction Chevrolet) is third, 35 behind Truex. MacDonald has only two top 10s in seven starts at Lime Rock and is hoping to keep within range of the leaders before heading to two venues where he's had a better history.
"Basically, we hope to get through the road course and get the best finish we can," MacDonald said. "You know there's a handful of guys that are really fast. You go there and do the best you can, and get out of there."
The Race: Mohegan Sun 200
The Place: Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn.
The Date: Saturday, August 15
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: SPEED, August 27, 3 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 1.53-mile road course
Race Purse: $140,884
2008 Winner: Matt Kobyluck
2008 Polesitter: None, Rain
Friday, Practice, 11:05 a.m.-12:05 p.m.; Final Practice, 1-2 p.m.; Qualifying, 4 p.m.
News & Notes
The Race ... The Mohegan Sun 200 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., is the ninth event in an 11-race schedule this year for the NASCAR Camping World Series East and the second of two trips to the Nutmeg State in 2009. This year's edition will mark the 17th season in a row that Lime Rock has played host to the NCWS East.
The Procedure ... The starting field is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will have secured starting positions based on road-race style (group) qualifying. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 82 laps (125.46 miles).
The Track ... Lime Rock is a 12-turn, 125.46-mile road course. The NCWS East has competed at Lime Rock Park every year since 1993. The track opened April 20, 1957 and has held sports car events throughout its history. The track underwent a series of capital improvements beginning in 1984, which included the walk-over bridge in 1987 that connects the hillside with the infield. The track is also home to the Skip Barber Racing School.
Race Winners ... Ken Schrader won the first NASCAR Camping World Series East race at Lime Rock in 1993. Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet) and Butch Leitzinger are the only drivers to win three times. Leitzinger won from 1994-96, while Kobyluck won in 2005, and 2007-08. Dale Quarterly (2001 and 2003) and Bryan Wall (1999 and 2000) each have two wins.
Pole Winners ... Wall has won the most Coors Light Pole Awards with four: 1997 and 1999-2001. Kobyluck is second with three (2005-2007). He also started on the pole in 2008 when rain washed out qualifying.
Track Record ... Wall also holds the track qualifying record at 53.591 seconds (102.778 mph) in 2001.
Final Notes From Adirondack
Park's Place ... Steve Park (No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet) earned his first victory in the NASCAR Camping World Series East since 1996 when he went to Victory Lane twice, the latter coming at the now-closed Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway. Park earned the Camping World Happy Camper Award for his victory. Park has wins in all three of NASCAR's national series as well as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Points battle still tight ... Ryan Truex (No. 00 NAPA Toyota) retained his points lead with a runner-up finish. Truex, who started ninth, entered the race with a nine-point lead over Eddie MacDonald (No. 71 Grimm Construction Chevrolet) and left with a 26-point advantage over Jody Lavender (No. 88 JoJo Ent./Custom Race Chassis Chevrolet), who finished third.
Truex tops rookies ... Truex earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award for the fourth time as the top finisher among the five rookies of the field. He also holds a six-point lead over Brett Moffitt (No. 44 brettmoffitt.com Chevrolet) in the season-long Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
MacDonald out front ... In addition to winning the first Coors Light Pole Award of his career, Eddie MacDonald (No. 71 Grimm Construction Chevrolet) also led 101 laps to claim the WIX Filters Lap Leader Award for the first time this season.
Tardiff makes up ground ... Alan Tardiff (No. 38 Bestway Disposal Chevrolet) overcame a 16th-place qualifying run to finish sixth and earn the Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award.
Delaney has strong run ... After finishing 20th at Thompson, Dustin Delaney (No. 39 Delaney Infrastructure Chevrolet) ran strong all day before a late spin left him with an 11th-place finish. It was good enough for him to claim the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award.
Hernandez Adapts As Season Rolls Along
Two days before the NASCAR Camping World Series East season opened, Jesus Hernandez had no plans to race. Heading into this weekend, he has made six starts and produced two top fives, four top 10s and is one of the top contenders in the Mohegan Sun 200.
Hernandez was a last-minute replacement in the No. 12 Chivas/Telmex/Z-Line Designs Dodge when driver Antonio Perez had scheduling conflicts with his defense of his NASCAR Mexico Series championship. Troy Williams Motorsports turned to Hernandez, who finished third in points in 2008 for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
"I've been taking it one race at a time," Hernandez said. "The first race was just baptism by fire. It was something we had to grow accustomed to and learn each other's style, and I think we were able to do that fairly quickly."
After a rough start (25th at Greenville Pickens Speedway), they put together a fifth-place run in their second race together at Iowa Speedway. Most recently, Hernandez was fourth at Adirondack International Speedway.
One advantage Hernandez has as a substitute driver is that he has raced at each of the tracks they've been to.
Now they head to Lime Rock, where Hernandez has fourth-place finishes each of the last two years.
"I feel comfortable getting around that place," Hernandez said, "and they have some good road-course cars. Crew chief Mark Tudor is real sharp on his road-course stuff. That's a good combination for us to be there at the end, and having a shot to win."
Last year's event ...
Continuing his road-course mastery, Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet) claimed his third win in the last four trips for the NASCAR Camping World Series East to Lime Rock Park.
Only an hour-long red flag for rain could slow Kobyluck, who pitted on Lap 12 and exited in 14th. He made his way back to second by Lap 31. Following the restart from the rain delay, Kobyluck took over the lead when race leader Brian Ickler spun, and led the rest of the way en route to a victory by 1.636 seconds over runner-up Marc Davis.
Peyton Sellers, Jesus Hernandez and Mike Olsen rounded out the top five. Eric Curran, Steve Park, Max Dumarey, Jeff Anton and Alex Kennedy completed the top 10.
It was the third win in a row for Kobyluck, who left the track with a 135-point lead over second-place Trevor Bayne.
Up Next: NHMS
The 10th of 11 NASCAR Camping World Series races in 2009 will take place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., on Friday, Sept. 18.
The Heluva Good! Fall 125 will make the second trip of the season for the series to the 1.058-mile slightly-banked speedway.
Rookies Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Truex put on a thrilling show in June, with DiBenedetto making a pass in the final turns of the final lap to steal away the win. It was the second win of the season for DiBenedetto, a Joe Gibbs Racing development driver who led a race-high 39 laps. Truex, a development driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, won his second Coors Light Pole Award and led 37 laps.
It was the third time in five races a Joe Gibbs Racing rookie won at New Hampshire, following Joey Logano's sweep in 2007.
Brad Leighton, who finished 18th in the race, is the all-time winningest driver with eight victories. Ted Christopher and Kelly Moore have five apiece. Moore has the record for Coors Light Pole Awards with six.
Qualifying is set for Thursday, Sept. 17, while the green flag for the Heluva Good! Fall 125 is set to drop Saturday, Aug. 15 at 5:10 p.m.