WATERFORD – Bad luck has been theme of the 2016 season for Paul Kusheba IV in the SK Modified division at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
But after putting up good speeds in practice and winning his heat race Saturday at the shoreline oval, Kusheba had a feeling the night may have arrived for luck to swing his way.
It ended up with Kusheba swinging for the fences with a homerun of a feature.
Kusheba, of Monroe, held off Rob Janovic Jr. and Dennis Perry over numerous restarts to score his first career SK Modified feature win in the 35-lap race for the division Saturday at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
The 21-year old Kusheba is in his third year competing full-time in the division.
“I know we’ve had the car to do it, it’s just been a lot of bad luck, Kusheba said. “My dad pretty much does everything. Me and my dad. We have good cars. The beginning of this year we blew a motor the first week. Then two weeks in a row I got wrecked. It just seems like we could never catch a break. Tonight we won the heat race, the car was fast in practice. I just had a feeling that maybe tonight we could align our stars and get it done.”
Janovic, of Waterford, was second and Dennis Perry of Pawcatuck third.
“He’s fast and he’s good,” Janovic said. “He should have won long before now. I told him I’m proud to finish second to him.”
Paul Buzel started from the pole with Diego Monahan second and Kusheba in third.
Monahan went to the lead from the outside lane at the start of the green flag, Rob Janovic Jr. moving from fourth to second. Kusheba fell to fourth.
On a restart three laps into the race Kusheba got by Buzel for third place. Three laps later Kusheba got by Janovic for second.
With 27 laps remaining Kusheba was able go low under Monahan off turn four to take over the lead.
“Got under Diego and once we got up front the car just stay so consistent the whole time,” Kusheba said. “But those restarts were really killing me.”
With Monahan going to the pits under the next caution Janovic went to second and Dennis Perry to third.
On a restart with 25 laps left it was Perry going by Janovic to second place. The caution flag flew with 11 laps left and on the restart it Janovic got under Perry to return to second place, while Kusheba pulled away at the front.
The caution flew again with eight laps left, but Kusheba was up to the task once again, pulling away quickly from Janovic. Another wreck had the caution flying again with five laps left but another perfect restart had Kusheba keeping the field at bay over the final five laps.
“Every time that yellow came out I was like ‘Oh man we gotta do those restarts again.’” Kusheba said. “But I’ve never driven a better [SK Modified] in my life. I’ve got to thank my dad for giving me this great piece. And my mom for all the hard hours she puts in working. … This is amazing. I can’t believe we finally got it done.
“Jason Palmer was spotting for me and he kept me nice and calm. He just kept telling me every restart we were doing was the way to do it. I know Rob was fast and I know Dennis was fast and this thing was just on rails. I’m just so excited we finally got it done.”