Matt Kobyluck kicks off 2002 Busch North season with top five finish. Uncasville, Connecticut's Matt Kobyluck started his 2002 NASCAR Busch North Series in fine fashion when he took his Mohegan Sun Casino Chevrolet to a fifth place finish in the...
Matt Kobyluck kicks off 2002 Busch North season with top five finish.
Uncasville, Connecticut's Matt Kobyluck started his 2002 NASCAR Busch North Series in fine fashion when he took his Mohegan Sun Casino Chevrolet to a fifth place finish in the Sanel Auto Parts 150 at Lee (NH) USA Speedway, the first of nineteen races to be held this season.
"The car was flawless all day. To pull off a top five at the opener here, and our luck here has not been good in the three previous races, is just great. To start seventeenth and come home with a fifth is a big day for us," he said after the race.
Kobyluck's top five only came about after a gutsy call to stay on the track when the majority of the field pitted for tires, leaving him to fend off those competitors over the final fifty laps to the finish.
Starting seventeenth after a disappointing time trial result, Kobyluck fell back even further before the outside lane opened up and he took advantage, approaching the top ten within the first fifty laps. He then started picking off top ten cars one by one, coming to fifth place at the halfway point.
"We were stuck back in traffic," he explained. "We started off seventeenth, but dropped back to 23rd and the traffic wouldn't go anywhere. One line went, then the other line went, and guys were beating and banging on each other 25 laps into the race. Once we got open track we were able to pick off cars on the outside, the outside lane worked good and we just went around everybody as fast as we could to get out on some open track and run with the leaders."
A lap 86 caution brought most of the front-runners to pit road to change tires, but Kobyluck stayed on the track and took over the lead. He led seventeen laps before being passed by eventual race winner Andy Santerre, but those with fresher tires could only put Kobyluck back to fifth by the time the race ended.
Kobyluck was asked about the call to stay out while the rest of the field pitted.
"It was a joint call between my tire guy, Jay Gentile, my crew chief, Perry Waite, and myself," he said. "The only thing we gave up was a little bit of tire wear, and we expected the other guys' tires to fade a little too after a while. We gambled, like at the casino, and stayed out there. We figured we'd try to see if we could hold them off for ten or fifteen laps and let their right sides get down to where ours had tapered off to, and then we'd be able to hold them off. Some we just couldn't hold off that long, but once they got in front their tires wore off and we stayed with them.
"We gambled, we were fifth when they came in and pitted, we ended up fifth," Kobyluck continued. "We didn't gain anything but we didn't lose anything, but we learned a lot about the tires. That was the big thing today.
The next race for the Mohegan Sun Racing team will be held May 11 at the New Hampshire International Speedway. The race, held in conjunction with the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series, will be broadcast on the Speed Channel May 20.