Every year the Kobyluck Corporation hosts 500 guests when the Busch North Series visits the Waterford Speedbowl. The first two years of the affair, Matt Kobyluck put on a show for his employees and customers, but not the kind he planned. In 2002...
Every year the Kobyluck Corporation hosts 500 guests when the Busch North Series visits the Waterford Speedbowl. The first two years of the affair, Matt Kobyluck put on a show for his employees and customers, but not the kind he planned. In 2002 he crashed right in front of the hospitality tent, ultimately costing him the series title, and in 2003 he crashed a little way down the track after tangling with a lapped car while leading.
In 2004, Kobyluck turned things around to finish third in a race his company sponsored. Then last Saturday night he made all the effort and expense worthwhile by winning the Busch Pole and leading all but two laps. Needless to say, the big guy was a happy man in victory lane, surrounded by family and friends. "This is where it all started, and this is where we belong," he exclaimed. "You have to believe in yourself, keep on digging, and keep on progressing. People from small places end up in big places if you keep on doing that."
While Ryan Moore momentarily edged ahead on a pair of restarts, Kobyluck was most concerned sitting in the car during the red flag period to remove Rich Gould's damaged car from the track. "Things go through your mind on a red flag, like 'Is the car going to start back up?' You sit for a little bit, and sometimes a lot of heat cycles hurt these tires, but the track had a lot of grip tonight. The car took off every lap on all those restarts and I was sure it was going to do it again after the red flag," he related.
Kobyluck's sixth career Busch North triumph was his second of the season and left him batting 1.000 in Connecticut this season, as he also won the series opener at Stafford Motor Speedway. He now owns 13 Waterford wins, the first 12 coming in the late model division. Ironically, the late models were on the track during the Busch North victory lane celebration.
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As noted in the race story, Bryon Chew's second place finish was his best ever in a race run over its full scheduled distance. He previously finished second at Lime Rock in the rain and darkness-shortened 2002 season finale. "This feels a lot better," he remarked, continuing "We needed this. We haven't had a great year so far and this will boost everyone's morale on the team."
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The Busch North Series procedural changes implemented at Waterford call for a double-file alignment on all restarts, with lapped cars retraining their positions in the running order up to lap 125 and falling to the rear beginning with lap 126. "I liked the double file restarts. It's more competitive, and we can stay up there and have some fun," said Bryon Chew.
"On single file restarts, I think I would have had an eighth place car, so the double-file restarts really helped me," added third place finisher Andy Santerre, who came from 14th at the start and made good use of the outside groove. The three-time champion has never won at Waterford, in fact, up until last Saturday, his best finish had been seventh.
"There was a lot of respect out there, at least for me," added fourth place Mike Olsen "I think everybody did a pretty good job. There was one time I had to take a lapped car three deep, ands that panned out all right."
Another perspective comes from Don Wagner, who races modifieds when he's not running the Mannings USA Busch North car. Double-file restarts are universal in modified racing. "All I saw tonight was good, hard racing," Wagner stated, adding a suggestion. "Maybe they should do something to get the lapped cars behind the lead lap cars sooner, maybe with fifty laps to go, but I think going to double-file restarts was a great move by NASCAR." Wagner finished 14th after a late pit stop.
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A statistical oddity found Matt Kobyluck and Joey McCarthy in a tie for the fastest qualifying time, carried out to one-thousandth of a second. Kobyluck won the tie-breaker due to his higher point standing. "I thought I had the pole. Those were two perfect laps," McCarthy said. "It's almost first, and it's not really second," he reasoned.
The race did not go as well for the New Jerseyite who barely missed qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at NHIS the previous weekend. Side-to-side contact with Santerre while battling for third cut a tire, and after coming back to sixth after pitting, he was part of a chain-reaction in turn two which forced him out of the groove and he was freight-trained back to tenth.
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It was a quiet night for point leader Mike Stefanik, but his fifth place finish gave him an unblemished record of top-fives since he was ninth in the opener at Stafford.
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Ryan Moore's slow restart on lap 127, which began his roller-coaster ride from contention for victory to a beat-up ninth place, was due to a transmission locked in third gear. He later spun out after contact from Brian Hoar. Nevertheless, Moore has four straight top-ten finishes.
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A night of promise turned frustrating for Kip Stockwell. He qualified 12th, his best run of the year, but broke a front spindle in the early laps. The team made repairs, but by the time he was able to return to the track under caution, he was nearly 100 laps behind. (For safety reasons, cars are not permitted to return from Waterford's outside pit area under green flag conditions.) He ran the last third of the race at competitive speed, but never gained a place on the score sheet, finishing 25th.
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CORRECTION: Mike Olsen's point total was incorrectly listed in the unofficial finish. The correct total for Olsen is 725, not 720.
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MILESTONES... Stefanik, Santerre, and Mike Johnson are all working on perfect top-ten records... In what is becoming a weekly habit, Sean Caisse posted his best career finish and the best for Barney McRae's Motion Racing team with his sixth place... John Salemi (11th), Marc Rogers (15th), and Laine Chase (16th) also recorded their best career finishes. Chase was assisted by Bob Harrison, long-time crew chief for Bill Penfold... Since he was qualified for the starting field, Charles Lewandoski was scored 26th with full points and prize money for that position, although the damage from his crash on the second lap of qualifying prevented him from taking the green flag... Driver quotes courtesy Alan Claffie and Penny Aicardi.