Matt Kobyluck races to twelfth in inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown. Matt Kobyluck, driver of the Mohegan Sun Chevrolet, joined fourteen other representatives of the NASCAR Grand National Division in Irwindale, California to go head to head...
Matt Kobyluck races to twelfth in inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Matt Kobyluck, driver of the Mohegan Sun Chevrolet, joined fourteen other representatives of the NASCAR Grand National Division in Irwindale, California to go head to head with the top fifteen NASCAR Winston West Series drivers. In the nationally-televised race, Kobyluck struggled with tire troubles to finish twelfth, helping the Busch North drivers enjoy a team victory along the way.
At the half-mile Irwindale Speedway, Kobyluck and the rest of the racers put in four hours of practice before a fifty-lap qualifying race on Friday night, and in those practice sessions, Kobyluck found inconsistency between sets of tires that made it difficult for the team to get a handle on the car.
In his qualifying race, Kobyluck started sixth and ran as high as third before fading back after the halfway point. He wound up eighth, which gave him the fifteenth starting position in Saturday's feature.
"The fifty-lapper was just a practice session and we learned a lot," he said. "The first hundred laps of the feature is just a practice session; the last twenty-five laps are what counts. We're going to figure out in that first hundred laps what we need for the last twenty-five, and let it all hang out.
"We made a bunch of changes before the fifty-lapper, and it started helping the car get in the right direction of where it needed to be," Kobyluck continued. "We've got a good idea of what changes we needed to make for tonight to free the car up a little bit, because that was the big thing, we were a little too tight in the middle and that's the key here, you have to be able to roll through the middle of the corner. We were a little too tight there, so we freed it up a little bit, so we should be pretty decent."
There was some concern over an incident in the qualifying race where a piece of debris struck the underside of the Mohegan Sun Chevrolet, with the team considering going to the back-up car.
"I was following the 17 car [Eddie MacDonald] and he lost his left front shock that went underneath my car. It jammed the crossmember up into the oil pan and bent the oil pan, so we were a little hesitant about making the decision whether to run this car or run the backup car. But we got it all straightened out, we're going to stay with the car we've been working with and finish out the weekend."
Starting fifteenth in the main event, Kobyluck avoided disaster by just nicking the spinning car of Johnny Borneman on lap 58. He continued with just a little body damage to lap 72, when caution came out for an unrelated incident but Kobyluck took advantage to come in for a pit stop for a chassis adjustment. He returned to the track in 21st place but improved to seventeenth at the lap 100 mark, at which time the race was stopped for ten minutes for teams to make adjustments and change tires.
Returning to the race in seventeenth, it took just seven laps for Kobyluck to improve to eleventh. But the inconsistency of the tires caught up to him and prevented him from making further progress. He held his ground and wound up twelfth when the race was over.
"It's just one of those deals where you go to a new racetrack and not hit the nail on the head right off the bat and kind of struggle with the car all weekend," he explained after the race. "In the first hundred laps of the main event here, the car was a little bit tight. We waited until lap 75 and we came in and pitted and made an adjustment, and that livened it up a little bit, so I was excited about going for the 25 lap shootout. We came in and bolted on tires, and we didn't make any other changes. We came out seventeenth, and in a couple of laps we were up to eleventh, so the car was awesome right from the get-go, and I passed a bunch of cars. The problem that we had there was the same problem that everybody else had with the tires all weekend. They brought bad tires to the track this weekend. Everybody's been a victim of it all weekend long. You put one set on and it does one thing, but you put another set with the same stickers, size and pressure and it does another. That's what happened in the last twenty-five laps. After five laps, the stagger went off. We put a bunch of cross-weight in the car to tighten the heck out of it, but that's pretty much all we could do, we hit a brick wall at that point. We just survived with what we could.
"Goodyear should have done a better job of bringing some tires that were compatible with what we're consistently running on the east coast, and that were consistent from set to set," Kobyluck continued. "We didn't get that all weekend long, everybody struggled because of that. It's kind of, whoever happened to get lucky and hit it right and got a set that did what you thought it would do, would run well. If you didn't, you struggled because of it. That's what happened with us in the last 25 laps. If the tires stayed the way they did in the first five laps of that last 25 lap shootout, I would have marched right through."
Kobyluck and team will pick up their tenth place season honors in two weeks at the Busch North Series banquet, which will be held at the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.