WS: Phoenix: Matt Kobyluck race report

Matt Kobyluck's 2005 Season Debut Results In Seventh Place Finish (Phoenix, Ariz. - Jan. 30, 2005) - Matt Kobyluck, who finished the 2004 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series seventh in points, started his 2005 season with a...

Matt Kobyluck's 2005 Season Debut Results In Seventh Place Finish

(Phoenix, Ariz. - Jan. 30, 2005) - Matt Kobyluck, who finished the 2004 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series seventh in points, started his 2005 season with a seventh place finish. His second consecutive top-ten finish in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series came in Sunday's United Rentals 100, which was slowed just once by caution and turned into a fuel mileage run for many front-runners.

Kobyluck, who finished third in last year's West Series opener at Phoenix, returned this year with a brand new Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino Chevrolet. Shaking down a new car in practice, he found the track time he needed reduced by a couple of factors.

"We've had a little case of the new car blues," he said. "In practice we found a bad steering box in the car so we had to take a lot of practice time changing that instead of being on the track. Then practice time got cut short because of rain, so we basically threw a new setup in there for qualifying and we went about a second faster than we did in practice. We're gaining on it, we've got something we can work with for the race so I'm pretty optimistic. I think I got about ten laps of practice total, but with all things considered, I'm pretty happy with where we're at right now. The car is going to be good. We'll have to rely on our one pit stop to take on a couple of tires and make some adjustments to set us up to go the distance."

Starting from the tenth position in the 33-car field, Kobyluck was already up to seventh just two laps into Sunday's hundred-lap race. He was just outside the top ten when the first and only caution of the race came out on lap 25, and with this he came down pit road for adjustments, fuel, and right-side tires.

Restarting deep in the field, Kobyluck started to work his way back to the front. He got to eleventh place but his forward progress was hampered by a pair of problems: the field had become so spread out with no further cautions to close up the field and, with about twenty laps to go, Kobyluck's right front shock absorber broke. But he maintained his speed and took advantage of other drivers' having to make late-race pit stops for gas, and wound up seventh at the end of 100 laps.

"When we pitted, we lost so much track position, and that left us with a lot of ground to make up," the Uncasville, Connecticut driver said after the race. "We came out of the pits in 25th, and the field spread out so much on the track with no more cautions to close us up. By the time we got back through traffic, there was too much distance to make up. And the right front shock broke, so we finished the race with no right front shock. If that didn't happen, we definitely had a top-five car. But we took a brand new car with no laps on it and put it in the race with hardly any practice on it. We brought it home in the top ten, and we're happy with that.

"We were way too tight before the pit stop, and the adjustments we made during that stop really livened the car up," he continued. "If we had a couple cautions mixed into the last seventy laps to tighten the field up, we could have passed more guys sooner and, if the right front shock had gone the distance, we had a solid top-five car. We were so strung-out on the racetrack, even though we finished in seventh place we finished 19 seconds behind the leader, that's a half a lap."

Kobyluck looked back on a successful weekend in Phoenix.

"Everything was good. It was a successful trip, I had a good time," he said. "The guys all had a good time out here, and we're happy that we ran as well as we did. If circumstances were different, we very easily could have finished in the top five. With the cards we were dealt, I think we did a great job."

Kobyluck is seriously considering another trip to Phoenix in April, when the track will run a tripleheader consisting of races for the West Series, the Busch Series, and the Nextel Cup Series. An announcement will be made regarding whether he will race in the West Series race or the Busch Series race.

-www.mattkobyluck.com.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Matt Kobyluck