KOBYLUCK DRIVES NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION SPEC ENGINE TO VICTORY IN NASCAR TOYOTA ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN; MIDWEST SERIES CHAMPION SCHENDEL WINS ELITE DIVISION RACE IRWINDALE, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2006) -- Matt Kobyluck shed the bridesmaid tag in the...
KOBYLUCK DRIVES NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION SPEC ENGINE TO VICTORY IN NASCAR TOYOTA ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN; MIDWEST SERIES CHAMPION SCHENDEL WINS ELITE DIVISION RACE
IRWINDALE, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2006) -- Matt Kobyluck shed the bridesmaid tag in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway, scoring a hard-fought victory in the NASCAR Grand National Division feature event while using the new, cost-reducing Grand National "spec" engine under the hood of his No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet. Earlier in the evening, Tim Schendel took the lead early but had to fight off challenges on three late restarts that sent the race it overtime to win the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division event of the $500,000 "super bowl of short track racing" televised nationally by SPEED.
Kobyluck, the runner-up in this event in 2004 and 2005, started sixth and took the lead for the final time from fellow Grand National Division, Busch East Series competitor Sean Caisse on a restart with ten laps remaining in the 150-lap race. AutoZone West Series champion Eric Holmes made a run at the win but tangled with Caisse on the final turn, spinning while Caisse held off AutoZone West Series driver Mike David for second. Tracy Gordon of the Busch East Series and Brian Ickler of the AutoZone West Series were fourth and fifth. Despite the fact that Busch East Series drivers captured three of the top five places, the depth of the AutoZone West Series enabled the home-standing AutoZone West Series team to win the "team" competition - a race-within-a-race that provides an additional award to the best-performing series overall - for the first time in the event's four-year history.
Kobyluck was one of 11 drivers in the all-star event utilizing the new spec engine technology, which was introduced this season as a cost-saving alternative for NASCAR Grand National Division teams. The spec engine includes a closely-specified set of components to limit costs, while providing competitive performance and durability. The new engines, which are optional, are expected to save teams nearly 50 percent on the cost of their engines.
"It was an awesome win. When you can compete against 29 other top drivers in the country and pull off a win, it has to be the biggest achievement of my career," said the 36-year old Kobyluck, who finished fifth in the 2005 Busch East Series standings. "We bailed it down into the first corner on the restart and kept it wound up on the outside. There was no way I wasn't going to get this win" he added in describing his winning move. An executive of his family's construction firm in Uncasville, Conn., Kobyluck is in his eighth season of racing the Busch Series-style cars and owns 10 Busch East Series regular season victories.
Caisse's runner-up finish was memorable as he came from 27th in the starting lineup using a backup car after his primary mount was destroyed in a crash during Friday night's qualifying race. The 20-year old series runner-up took the lead from Holmes on lap 125 but surrendered it to Kobyluck 16 circuits later. Ickler, a Sunoco Rookie contender in the AutoZone West Series, led at the 100-lap service break but faded soon afterward and came back to grab fifth behind David, the AutoZone West Series runner-up in the regular season, and Gordon, a New England racing veteran who was making his Toyota All-Star Showdown debut.
Schendel, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series champion from Sparta, Wis., took the lead on lap 18 of the scheduled 125 lap AutoZone Elite Division event and didn't face a major challenge until a restart o lap 119 gave Minnesota's Dan Fredrickson a clear shot. The same scenario would be repeated two more times, extending the distance to 130 laps, but Schendel was equal to the competition. On the final corner of the race, Californian Thomas Martin dove under Fredrickson to take second at the checkered flag. Eric Holmes, who recorded two top five fishes during the evening, and Jim Pettit II completed the top five, helping the AutoZone Elite Southwest Series win the team competition among the four regional tours.
"Winning the championship, then winning the Showdown and getting to drive a NASCAR Busch Series car next weekend in Memphis is fantastic," the winner said in victory lane. "I wanted this one bad because it was the last chance I had to win in the AutoZone Elite Division," he continued, referring to the fact that the late model-type cars are in their final season as a NASCAR Touring division.