Matt Kobyluck had reason to be excited about Saturday afternoon's Mohegan Sun 150 at Watkins Glen International. The race was sponsored by his team's sponsor, and he was debuting a fresh new paint scheme. His Mohegan Sun Chevrolet was fast, and he...
Matt Kobyluck had reason to be excited about Saturday afternoon's Mohegan Sun 150 at Watkins Glen International. The race was sponsored by his team's sponsor, and he was debuting a fresh new paint scheme. His Mohegan Sun Chevrolet was fast, and he was poised to have a good race. But rain took his strategy and turned it against him, as he was set to go the distance while the race would end up being shortened before he could return to the front. He wound up twenty-second.
"We had a fast race car," he said. "We have nothing to do but look forward to the next road course, which is Lime Rock, and then going back to Watkins Glen next year. We'll move forward to going to Adirondack and putting on a good show there."
Kobyluck's road course car was up to the challenge in Friday's practice and qualifying day, with his timing in sixth fastest in the opening practice session. In qualifying, he was eighth fastest, having completed one lap before a problem in the valve train of his engine forced him to cut his qualifying attempt short.
"Eighth in qualifying is not very indicative of how fast the car is," he said. "We broke a rocker arm on the first lap of qualifying and had to pull it in. We're very optimistic, we had a real good car during happy hour practice. The car's handling well, so we're going to be safe right off the bat, get up to the front, and we'll see what happens."
The race started with the threat of rain overhead. Kobyluck was fast right from the start, moving up to fifth in the opening laps, then taking fourth when Ryan Moore crashed on the fourth lap. He became involved in a heated battle for third with Paul Wolfe, eventually taking that position after a lap 13 restart. He then passed Brad Bennett for second and set his sights on the leader, Dale Quarterley.
Rain showed up for the first time with thirty laps run in the race - just shy of the halfway point. After a delay, the race resumed. As green flew, Kobyluck dove to pit road to take on fuel and tires to make it to the end.
"We took tires and fuel," he said. "Pitting at that time allowed us the opportunity to take on tires because we came in on the drop of the green. The rest of the field wasn't up to speed yet so that gave us those extra seconds that we could use to put tires on."
Kobyluck wound up deep in the field, but other drivers pitted and that moved Kobyluck up in the running order. But after the second caution came out after the restart, rain reappeared and the race was called off before he could move closer to the front. He wound up 22nd.
"There's nothing you can do about the weather," he said after the race. "I guess we could have stayed out and not pitted and gambled, and if it didn't rain, we'd have to pit later. The call that was made at the time we pitted was made when it looked like it was not going to rain again. The sun came out, it looked pretty promising, that's why we came in. Apparently other guys thought the same way because Quarterley came in the next lap, along with Brad Bennett.
"The weather report that we had heard was that the sun was coming out, and everything was going to the north of us," Kobyluck continued. "It looked like that was going to be the case. When they dropped the green after the red flag, we pulled down pit road and did our thing and went back out. We felt like we were in really good shape because we had a real fast car. But the rain came, and that was the end of the day. We were in great shape for a 62 lap race. It would have come down to three or four cars - Dale Quarterley, Brad Leighton, Brad Bennett, and us. But unfortunately none of us got to race for the win. We all have the same story for the weekend, short-changed by the weather."
Kobyluck will try to get back into the top ten next Saturday night when the Busch North Series makes its second visit to the half-mile Adirondack International Speedway. Kobyluck, in last year's race, Kobyluck started on the pole, led laps late in the going, and finished second to eventual champion Andy Santerre.
"We're looking forward to going back there, it's a nice facility and we should have another sellout crowd," he said. "I'm upset that we didn't get the chance to race for the win at Watkins Glen, we could have done something differently, no pitted, maybe we could have, maybe we should have, but we're not going to second-guess ourselves, we're going to move on to Adirondack."