Leftovers: NASCAR Busch East Series at South Boston by Penny Aicardi
Rookies Battling for Point Lead, Where's the Caution? and More
Kobyluck's #40. (NASCAR / Mike Keon Photo)
MENTAL MINDSET PAYS OFF FOR KOBYLUCK
Matt Kobyluck was able to harness a championship mindset at South Boston Speedway, and the strategy paid off with the win. Too many drivers overthink behind the wheel and in crunch time, they make mistakes. Kobyluck himself admits that in the first few races this year, his decisions cost him. He also talked with us about how his demeanor at South Boston, despite some travel setbacks, played a big factor in his success.
“It’s kind of funny tonight I was just so relaxed. The entire day I was so relaxed,” Kobyluck said. “I didn’t rush to get here because I had spoken with the race director and explained that my flight had been canceled so I had already gotten clearance for the driver’s meeting. I slept at a hotel at the airport last night, woke up before my wake-up call came, got up, got in the shower and moseyed down to the terminal.
“On the plane, a lady was actually nice to me! She was sitting in an exit seat and had gotten up to go to the bathroom and saw I was jammed in to the seat that I was in, and asked if I wanted to switch with her. I got in that seat, sprawled out and took a nap. I drove right here after I got off the plane and I was nice and calm and collected. I had never seen this place before and my second lap in practice today was my fastest lap other than qualifying. You can’t really script much of a better day than that. It was great.”
Kobyluck’s win secured a spot in the 2007 edition of the Toyota All-Star Showdown. Kobyluck won the event last year, and is looking forward to defending that victory. But first, he’s anxious to return to Stafford Motor Speedway in his homestate of Connecticut.
“It’s the closest trip to home. I’m looking forward to going back there and backing up what we did this last weekend. It’s one of those tracks where it’s got a lot of grip, a nice smooth surface, and I like that it gets real racey there. It’s unique in that there is definitely a preferred way of getting around that track,” he said.
But when asked what that preferred way was, Kobyluck wasn’t quite ready to give that up.
“You’ll have to watch me on lap 149 just before I take the checkered flag,” he said with a chuckle.
THERIAULT GETS FIRST ROAD BLOCK
Michelle Theriault, driver of the No. 37 Glock, Inc. Chevrolet posted a 32nd place finish at South Boston Speedway – her worst finish of the year – after experiencing some mechanical issues during the race.
Theriault has posted two top-10’s this season and has impressed many people with her performances. She entered South Boston Speedway seventh in the points, but dropped to 14th after the 32nd place finish.
“I couldn’t be happier (with our season so far). Tonight, we had a top-five car. We were coming through the field, and its just one of those things. It was a $20 piece that cost us our night. We’ve been really competitive this year so we’re really happy about that.”
During the race, one of Theriault’s crew members was taken out of the track by ambulance. The crew member was treated and released for dehydration and heat exhaustion.
LOPEZ CLOSES IN ON LOGANO
Rogelio Lopez moved up to second in the points after posting his third top-five finish this season. Lopez finished the South Boston 150 in fifth after qualifying sixth and
running the fourth fastest time in practice. Consistency was the order of the day for the driver of the No. 03 Telmex Chevrolet.
“This track is great,” he said. “I hope we come back here next year. The car was really good on the long runs, but I think there were too many yellows and that hurt us. My car was not good enough on the outside and I had to work it hard to pass the cars on the inside.”
Lopez was in a heated battle with Jamie Hayes and Mike Olsen on the final lap when he came around to a wreck in turn one. Lopez got caught up in the mess and sustained a lot of damage to the car after taking the checkers.
“We were working the entire race to keep the car in the lower part of the track to be in the leading group. Unfortunately towards the end NASCAR Officials did not pay enough attention in an accident featuring some lapped drivers that occurred in front of us (the leading group), and they were practically two or three cars stopped in Turn one, while we were still fighting for position. Several cars also were vying for improving their positions. Therefore, we could not brake and at the end we wrecked the car.”
Lopez, who has yet to visit Victory Lane, trails Logano by only 39 points in the title hunt.
Michelle Theriault (51 Photo)
TOUGH WEEK FOR SALEMI
John Salemi was also one of the drivers caught up in the last lap wreck at South Boston Speedway. Salemi immediately took his wrecked No. 63 machine to North Carolina and stripped the damaged nose off the car in the driveway of Jeff Spraker's shop while Dale Quarterley found someone to put a new nose on. Salemi had business to attend to at home so he flew back on Monday only to have to return to North Carolina on Wednesday to pick up the repaired car and bring it back to the team's New Hampshire shop.
“I got bounced around in turn three but kept it going and didn't bring out a caution," he said. "I was going down the front straight and out of nowhere comes another car and the next thing you know I'm zig-zagging down the straight and spin to a stop in turn one. I figured I'd be all right, I didn't hit anything. But here come cars heading right for me and I realize they're not going to throw the yellow, and the next thing you know there's a pileup.
“What can you say? They needed to throw the caution," Salemi continued. "I'm just glad that nobody got hurt. You don't want to put the blame on any one person, but the yellow had to come out. This is why they don't race back to the caution. Everyone here tonight was racing to the checkers and this could have been prevented. Now I have a race car to fix and so do a lot of other people because they never threw the yellow. It really hurts to run a good race and have it all taken away with a preventable last-lap wreck. It hurts my sponsors, it hurts my family, and it hurts my crew, but we're not the only ones who are going through this tonight. I just feel for everybody else who was involved. There's nothing worse than being stopped on the racetrack and there's no caution while cars are coming at you at full speed.”
STANCILL MAKES BES DEBUT
Eighteen-year-old driver Ben Stancill from Ayden, NC made his debut in the Busch East Series with car owner Rich Gould. Stancill drove the No. 58 Nassau Painting Chevrolet to a 15th place finish. Stancill is a regular in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series.
“Considering the facts, we had a really great run tonight. It’s too bad we didn’t have a little bit more time to work with the car to get a setup that would work better for us during the race. We really appreciate Rich (Gould) giving us the opportunity to run his car. Hopefully, this will open the door for other similar opportunities. This is a very professional series and I had a great time running against these true competitors,” said Stancill.
“We missed the set up a little bit, but considering we only got seven laps of practice and the competition level that is in this series this year, we pulled out of it with a decent finish,” said Olsen. “In turns one and two I was tight in and loose off. I was tight in the center. In turns three and four I was loose all the way through the turn. We just didn’t get enough practice. You have to be on your game, and you can’t be a little bit off like we were tonight.”
Olsen was one of the cars caught up in the last lap wreck.
“I let off and gave up a position or two to save the car,” he said. “It was crazy. I don’t understand why the caution wasn’t out. We were all going in there full speed.”
Olsen had his hands full as he also made his debut as car owner with driver Max Dumarey, who finished the race in 25th.
Mike Olsen works on the rear from his #61. (Penny Arcardi Photo)
OVERHEATING PROBLEMS THWART CAISSE
Sean Caisse slipped from second to fifth in the Busch East Series point standings after overheating problems and a spin took him out of contention at South Boston Speedway.
The troubles began for the driver of the No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet on lap 57 and he never quite recovered after that.
“The bottom line is that a lot of the lapped traffic were racing the leaders,” he said. “At a place like this, after you run a few laps, a lot of the cars even out so it’s really hard to pass anyway. We were just running hard and ended up getting turned around.”
But Caisse says the spin didn’t really matter in the bigger picture. The car was overheating and that was going to happen whether he got spun or not.
“We were getting hot anyway. We got spun around so we came in and took some tape off, but the temperature was still spiking. We went back out and I got into somebody. I don’t really know who I got into. We started running 260, 270, and we were dumping a lot of water. The final result was that we were losing so much water that we had to lose a few laps to make sure we got it (the temp) down. We didn’t want to lose an engine or anything.”
OLSEN RECOVERS TO FINISH SEVENTH
Mike Olsen blew a rearend during practice for the South Boston 150, and only got seven laps of practice, but managed to pull off a seventh place finish despite his problems.