New Hampshire, Dover Set To Host Final Two NASCAR Busch East Series Events Of 2007 * Rookie Joey Logano, Veteran Matt Kobyluck Race For Series Championship * Kobyluck Has Date To Defend Win In October 20 NASCAR Toyota ...
New Hampshire, Dover Set To Host Final Two NASCAR Busch East Series Events Of 2007
* Rookie Joey Logano, Veteran Matt Kobyluck Race For Series
* Kobyluck Has Date To Defend Win In October 20 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 4, 2007) -- Two superspeedway events will decide the 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series championship, and conclude the popular series' 21st season. Two drivers, a rookie, Joey Logano (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Driven Chevrolet) and a veteran, Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet), will decide the series championship between themselves.
Plenty of storylines have played out in race-by-race chapters over the course of the 13-event, six-month campaign, with teenage rookie Logano, the series current point leader, playing a lead role. Before his 17th birthday on May 24, Logano won two NASCAR Grand National Division Busch East Series races, as well as a NASCAR West Series event at Phoenix. Since turning 17, he added two more wins. He's led the series point race since his victory over visitor Kevin Harvick in the Featherlite Coaches 200 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa on May 20.
Over the second half of the season, Logano and his team seemed to be building an insurmountable lead in the series point race while thoroughly dominating the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award standings.
The point race took a dramatic turn in the series' 10th race of the season, a 125-mile event on the road course at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., on August 18. Logano held a 188-point lead at the start of the event. But a spin into a tire barrier at the race's halfway point caused heavy damage to the left front of his car that required significant repairs. In the end, Logano finished the race in 23rd place, eight laps behind winner Kobyluck.
The Lime Rock win was the second of the season for Kobyluck, who maintained a steady but increasingly distant second place in points. After Lime Rock, Logano's point lead appeared less invincible. His point had been cut by nearly half, to 92 points.
Logano managed a successful on-track rebound in the series' 11th race of the season in Mansfield, Ohio. Sean Caisse (No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet) posted his second win of the season followed by Kobyluck and Logano. Still, Kobyluck picked up 10 more points on Logano by finishing one position ahead of him and picking up five bonus points for leading 12 laps. Post-Mansfield, Logano's point lead was cut to 82.
No one expects the pressure of the points race to rattle Logano and team. But veteran Kobyluck has a determination that won't concede one position on the track, let alone the point race.
It appears Logano still has a decided edge in the standings, and his extraordinary talent behind the wheel of his JGR Chevrolet allows no one to discount his chances in any race due to his rookie status.
Logano's wins have come on short tracks (Greenville, S.C., Beaver Falls, N.Y.), an intermediate track (Iowa Speedway), and a superspeedway (Loudon, N.H.), which hosts the series' next event.
New Hampshire International Speedway's Sept. 14 Aubuchon Hardware 125 presented by HardwareStore.com could turn out to be a head-to-head race between the two series standings leaders. Logano won from the pole in the June event at NHIS, while Kobyluck finished sixth. Although Kobyluck has yet to win there, he has three top-five finishes and eight more years of experience on the 1.058-mile oval than does Logano.
The Loudon track offers its own set of variables that can make a shambles of predictions, however. It typically attracts the largest field of cars of the year -- 43 started the June event -- and conditions such as weather can make the surface changeable, offering a challenge to crew chiefs determining set-ups. Another variable expected is eight-time NHIS winner and two-time NASCAR Busch East Series champion Brad Leighton (No. 55 Irving Oil Chevrolet). Leighton, who races infrequently, finished second to Logano after a fierce battle for the win in June.
The series finale will be hosted by Dover (Del.) International Speedway for the first time on Sept. 21. Logano has never raced on the one-mile oval, and its concrete surface will be the only concrete the series has competed on this year.
Kobyluck has a great track record at Dover, which includes a victory in 2002, and two top-five finishes in five appearances there, including a fourth-place finish last September. The 2007 version of the Sunoco 150 at Dover will have a maximum starting field of 30, making qualifying even more important.
The final two races also have prestige and visibility factors: both are run in conjunction with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series. The three divisions are joined by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire. The addition of NASCAR national series owners and drivers to the at-track audience is an added incentive for drivers and teams to focus on producing a superior performance.
The last two "regular season" NASCAR Busch East Series races are also the final two opportunities for drivers to win guaranteed starting positions in the post-season NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Oct. 20. Only NASCAR Grand National Division race winners and champions of NASCAR's developmental series win guaranteed starting positions. All others must race their way in to the field. Kobyluck, the defending champion of the Showdown, won his starting spot for the 2007 edition in June with his victory at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Other 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series race winners who qualified for the Showdown include Logano, Caisse, Rogelio Lopez (No. 03 Telmex/Lucas Oil Chevrolet), and Eddie MacDonald (No. 48 N.E.M.O. Chevrolet).