Cywinski, Sorenson Have Nothing For Homestate Favorite
Robbie Pyle has had a pretty tough year.  With all expectations pointing toward the championship before the season, Pyle has found himself fighting from behind since a crash took him out of the race at Lakeland.
However, there was no fighting from behind at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway on Saturday night.   Pyle earned it.   He blew away the rest of the field in qualifying, he and the #63 CITGO team employed excellent pit strategy to get up front and he used a classic “bump-and-run” to get the lead.  From then on out, it was a romp, as Pyle pulled away from his first win of the 2004 season in the BFGoodrich 250 at Mansfield (OH).

“We didn’t really come here thinking we could win, but we are pretty pumped up about it,” said Pyle, who is an Ohio native and received a large ovation from the homestate fans.  “We knew we were pretty good during practice, but these cars are all so close to the same speed, you really don’t know how good you are until come race time. 

“We put a pit strategy together and hoped we had a good enough car to do it that way.  That was the key to this race.   A good pit strategy gave you good track position and that was everything here.”
Track position was everything because the half-mile was a tough place to pass.  In fact, most of the passes on Saturday night were made using the front bumper and not a different groove.

No different was Pyle’s pass for the lead on lap 184, when he used a classic “bump-and-run” to get around surprise front runner Jay Middleton.

“I was just waiting and waiting and was trying everything I could to get around him,” said Pyle of his battle with Middleton.  “Then we all started to get bottled up and it was getting a little bit hairy.  I knew I was quite a bit quicker than he was.  So we finally just slipped by him there.   We had to do it or the same thing was going to happen to me.”

Middleton slipped back to second, then got bumped back to third, fourth and eventually out of the running.
“I guess I haven’t earned the respect of everyone yet because we just got jacked up it seemed like,” said Middleton, last year’s Florida Pro Series champion.  “I know those guys were a little faster than us, but if they are faster than us, they should have been able to pass us cleanly.  We made it to the front without touching a soul. 

“Pyle got into us a little bit to get around us for the lead, then Cywinski roughed us up.  I guess it is just the nature of the beast at a place like this.  Oh well, what can you do.  We showed we had a hell of a car out there and I’m happy with it.”

Unfortunately, things didn’t end all happy for Middleton, as he was spun by fellow rookie Brett Sontag with just six laps
to go in the race and tagged the wall, ending his night prematurely.

It wasn’t just a cruise to the end for Pyle however.  As part of the team’s strategy, they pitted twice early in the event, but never took on fuel.  And the late caution and subsequent extra laps (guaranteeing a green flag finish) put a bit of fear in the CITGO team.

“All I was thinking about was fuel,” said Pyle.  “Chas (Howe, Pyle’s spotter) was talking about fuel.  We didn’t fuel the whole race.  We knew it was going to be close.  We ran more than 250 laps, so it was a lot closer than we thought it was going to be.  He kept saying ‘we don’t need these extra laps.’  Right there all I was thinking was ‘oh my God I forgot all about it.’  
Jay Middleton snuck up on everyone and led the most laps at Mansfield.
“I don’t know how close we were in the end, but it lasted, so I guess that is all that matter.”

Cywinski, last week’s winner, really had nothing for Pyle at the end of the year.

“Our pit strategy was good and that is what you needed to do to get out front here,” said Cywinski.  “We came in and got both of our stops down early to get track position.  It just took a little bit for our car to get going.  Robbie could get away from us pretty good.  We didn’t need that last caution flag but that is the way the ball bounces

“I think I could have caught him on a long run, but I don’t think I could have done anything with him.  It’s so hard to pass here.  Earlier in the race, I had a run on him and I got up to his door, but I couldn’t make the pass and make it stick.”

Reed Sorenson, who has a horrible qualifying run and had to come
Robbie Pyle earned an extra $5,000 for winning from the pole.
from the back yet again this week, just run a solid third, but was happy with it.

“I don’t know if we had anything for Robbie.  We had a long green flag run at the end and it looked like Kevin and I were catching Robbie, but catching and passing is was different here.   We looked like we were a little better on short runs than Kevin, but we just didn’t get the chance.”

But it was Pyle’s night.  In addition to the race win, he collected an extra $5,000 from Jani-King for being the first driver of 2004 to win from the pole position.

“One little thing can change a whole day and we had it go our way.  Who knows, one little thing can change a whole year and maybe this is what we have been waiting for.”

Robbie Pyle is greeted by his CITGO team after winning for the first time in 2004 at Mansfield. (51 Photos)