by Alexis Ann
Last Friday, December 12, 2008, the Mohegan Tribe made history when Matt Kobyluck was crowned the first Native American to win a NASCAR Series Championship. It was a heartwarming experience witnessing Champion Matt, a member of the Mohegan Tribe, accepting the coveted NASCAR trophy for the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series East Champion. Feelings of pride enveloped the Mohegan Convention Center, not only for Champ Matt, but also for his entire Mohegan Family and circle of friends. These good feelings were contagious.
Mohegan Tribal Chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum spoke of the “Tribe’s core value of giving back to our communities.” “Congratulations Matt, you are the first Native American in history to win a NASCAR Series Championship.” “You started at Waterford Speedbowl and now, you’re here. It’s always good when Native sons rise and achieve such honor.” Two Dogs talked about Matt’s Construction Company helping to build the Sun’s first Casino of the Earth. In closing, and in true Mohegan Tradition, the Chairman sang the Honor Song.
“Even when you are the best, you strive to be even better!” posits Matt. “It’s in the history books. It’s really good!” Matt thanked his family and especially his wife Lori, “My wife, Lori is the champion here in our house.” Matt introduced his team, “Stand up and take some recognition,” he said. Matt spoke about the close bond he has with his crew chief Perry Waite.
Matt Kobyluck accomplished plenty during his first nine full seasons racing in the NASCAR Camping World Series East. He posted wins on short tracks, speedways, and road courses; won at all three NASCAR-sanctioned tracks in his home state of Connecticut; and had at least one win in six of the past seven seasons. What he was able to do in year ten, topped all of that.
He concluded with an emotional salute to his late brother, Dan Kobyluck, Jr., “Sixteen years ago this January, I lost my best friend, my brother Dan Jr. Ever since then, I have done my best to memorialize, honor, and have him as my co-pilot at every race and in life. I have learned so much with DWK, Jr. next to me on the roof of my car guiding this team in a direction that only he knew. We accomplished the impossible!” he said.
The 38-year old Native American drove his No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Chevy to a series-high four wins en route to the first NASCAR championship in his long and distinguished career.
Champ Matt collected nine top fives and 12 top 10s in 13 starts, and his dominance throughout the season allowed him to clinch the championship at Dover International Speedway with one race remaining on the schedule.