Kobluck Back In The Game By Getting Back In The Race by Penny Aicardi
Late-Race Spin Not Enough To Stop Kobyluck From Winning Race #2
Matt Kobyluck (#40, outside) led a group of veterans, including Sean Caisse (#44) and Mike Olsen (middle) to a crazy finish at Lime Rock. (Howie Hodge photos)
Matt Kobyluck avoided a near disaster Saturday afternoon after sliding through oil on the last lap of the Mohegan Sun 200 at Lime Rock Park. Kobyluck, having led 46 laps of the race up that point, hit the kill switch with his elbow and gave Sean Caisse an opportunity to make a drive for the checkers. Kobyluck would not be denied, however, and found the momentum to score his second victory of the season. The victory comes after a dominating run at Adirondack three weeks ago in which the Uncasville, CT-driver had been blacked flagged nine laps before its conclusion after leading most of that race.
“This is big," said Kobyluck. "When you win one road course race it’s great to put it on your resume. To win another one really solidifies yourself as a legitimate road racer. To do it with Mohegan Sun Casino as the sponsor of the race, to do it after what happened a couple of weeks ago at Adirondack, and to do it to and have a great points day is just awesome!” said an ecstatic Kobyluck after the race.
Kobyluck closed in on point leader Joey Logano, who had an off day with a 23rd place finish, to just 92 points.
The drama began to unfold at lap 59 when, during a restart, Caisse and defending champion Mike Olsen got a run on Kobyluck into turn one. The trio went three wide with Caisse emerging as the leader. Olsen challenged Caisse on the following lap and took over the lead officially at lap 61.
Olsen’s crew had come down and talked to us about picking up the pace a little bit on the restarts. I figured yeah, if it helps out Mike, I’ll give it a whirl,” Kobyluck explained. “They must
have had a higher first gear than me. In order to pick up the pace I had to start in second gear, but I wanted to help Mike out so we did it. Mike and the 44 blew past me. I don’t know what happened there, but I wouldn’t start in second gear again after that. It cost me three positions and I had to fight my way back to the lead.”
Olsen, who was making his 200th consecutive start, led for 9 laps before a caution closed up a considerable lead the 18-year veteran had opened up over Kobyluck. On lap 75, Olsen and Kobyluck brought the field back to green with Olsen back out front with pressure from the determined Kobyluck. On lap 77, Kobyluck beat Olsen through the tricky right hander of turn one and reclaimed the point.
“Matt outbraked me. I thought if I beat him into turn one I would have a good shot, but it didn’t work out that way,” Olsen explained.
Everything appeared to be wrapped up at that point. But as the saying goes, it ain’t over until it’s over.
On the final lap, on the downhill corner as they were coming to the frontstretch, Kobyluck hit oil, slid off course sideways, and managed to get back on the track to make a final run for the checkers.
“I took the white and I was pretty much on cruise control at that point because I had Mike by five or six carlengths," said Kobyluck. "I wasn’t pushing it that hard – just hard enough to maintain that,” he recalled. “I came around the last turn before the bridge and my spotter told me there was a local yellow on the downhill. I got over the hill and I couldn’t slow up too much because Mike (Olsen) was right behind me. I came over the hill and the track was all oil. I knew we were going to go off course and I was just going to try to not tear up the car. I wanted to salvage what I could out of it. I got off course
Kobyluck came away with the hardware and is now back in shot of the points lead.
and I was sideways.I don’t know how I saved it, but in the process I hit the kill switch with my elbow and killed the car. When I got back out on the racetrack I couldn’t go, but I don’t know how, but I knew I had done that and hit the kill switch again and took off and went. I don’t know how much I beat the 44 car to the line, but it couldn’t have been by much. It was crazy!”
Caisse fell short in his bid, but after coming from a 29th place starting position, was more than happy to be on the podium.
When the last lap came around Andy was screaming, ‘Back it down, back it down!’ I started slowing down, saw the oil, saw them starting to spin off the track so I was trying to save it. I went straight through it and I was just coasting and they yelled on the radio, ‘Get on the gas! Get on the gas! Go! Go! Go!’ So I got on the gas real hard and I was catching Matt and then all of a sudden we ran out of like 10 feet of racetrack. It was a pretty cool finish for us,” he said.
Not every driver was so lucky. Olsen, who seemed to have a runner-up finish wrapped up, spun in the oil as well. Disappointingly, he finished ninth.
“I was trying to make a run on Matt and we came down the hill. I was going really hard and so was he. I saw him wiggle and locking brakes up and then when he did that I saw the track was all oil. There was nothing I could do. I slid off track and into the dirt. I tried
LIME ROCK PARK (CT)
1. Matt Kobyluck
2. Sean Caisse
3. Jeff Anton
4. Jesus Hernandez
5. Jeffrey Earnhardt
6. James Buescher
7. Ruben Pardo
8. Peyton Sellers
9. Mike Olsen
10. Larry Moloney
11. Jerry Marquis
12. Jamie Hayes
13. Eddie MacDonald
14. Jonathan Smith
15. Chase Austin
16. Bryon Chew
17. Mike Johnson
18. Michelle Theriault
19. Jason Cochran
20. Dion Ciccarelli
21. Max Dumarey
22. Rogelio Lopez
23. Joey Logano
24. John Salemi
25. Marc Davis
26. Scott Bouley
27. James Pritchard, Jr.
28. Jeffrey Oakley
29. German Quiroga
Olsen had a strong run taken away from a late-race spin.
to drive it out and I could see I wasn’t going to make it. I popped the wall with the back of the car.”
Jeff Anton finished third followed by Jesus Hernandez and Jeffrey Earnhardt.