went off the track after contact. The bumper cover was flapping around in the wind, and NASCAR called Quarterley in to get it fixed. In the process, Quarterley went down a lap.
“Brian Hoar took me out, but I don’t think he did it on purpose. I was on the outside so I was in a bad spot, but I had him cleared about seven inches away. Coming up off the turn, he caught me, and I turned right around,” he explained.
Despite the team’s best efforts, Quarterley finished a disappointing 14th.
“I think I showed them after I had to pit, I was mowing them down and coming through the field, but I was a lap down. It was one of the fastest cars, if not the fastest car, here today," he concluded.
BUSCH EAST LEFTOVERS: LIME ROCK By Penny Aicardi
Big Welcome For New Champ, Caisse Runner-Up & More
When a driver races for the title right down to the wire like Mike Olsen did for his Busch East Series championship this year, the reality of it rarely sets in at the track. The celebrations – in victory lane, in the pits, and at the team motorhome – fail to allow a driver to actually think about the accomplishment. But when you’re greeted at home by a parade of townspeople, fire trucks, and banners, it’s hard not to put the magnitude of the achievement into perspective.
“We had a party at the shop and the fire trucks and everything met us in town as we got home. That was pretty neat,” said Olsen. “There are quite a few race fans here in town because of my grandfather, and I’ve been doing an article in the local paper every week so they are familiar with racing, but a lot of them have seen me grow up and everything. They’ve known me since I was a kid. It’s nice to know that they all care, take time out of their weekend to come down and celebrate this with us. It’s pretty overwhelming.”
Olsen officially clinched the title at lap 39 when Brad Leighton retired his No. 79 machine from the race with transmission problems. Olsen’s spotter, Mark Galloway, immediately let Olsen know that he had finally achieved the goal they had been striving for. It didn’t come soon enough for Olsen though.
“I was just relieved. I really thought it was going to happen earlier than it did. I was getting a little nervous, and I was just waiting for them to tell me we could go race. After Brad went out, I was happy to get the points off my mind and just race,” he said.
Olsen’s grandfather, Stub Fadden, joined the team in victory lane when series director Lee Roy presented Olsen with the championship trophy. It was a heartfelt moment for the family.
Mike Olsen picked up his second championship trophy at Lime Rock, but the celebration paled in comparison to the one he got back home. (Howie Hodge Photos)
“Everything I know I learned from him, and everything I do is because of him. It’s pretty special having him here,” Olsen said.
But the team isn’t ready to kick back and celebrate too much. Their focus has shifted to the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in two-and-a-half weeks.
“We’re pretty busy still getting ready for California,” Olsen said. “There’s nothing I’d like more than to go out there and win that thing.”
LAST LAP OR NOT?
Drivers rely on several resources to know what’s going on outside the cockpit of their cars. One of the most important is the flagman. Spotters use the lap counter as a back-up. So when NASCAR’s starter gave the two to go signal, and the lap counter at the track displayed lap 80, the teams had no reason to doubt they had two laps left in the race. NASCAR caught the mistake, but the drivers didn’t know it until they had reached the back part of the track.
Matt Kobyluck, who led the most laps in the 200-kilometer race, felt the communication error cost him a win.
“I knew I had (Pardo) on that lap, but I figured since I had one more to go there was no problem. I didn't need to do anything crazy with two to go, because I figured when we took the white flag I could get him going down into turn one. I was just setting him up for the last lap.”
All 82 laps of the race were run, but the information that was provided to drivers took away a key element in racing -- strategy. Mike Olsen, who had already clinched the title and was running for the win, agreed that he would have run it a little harder on that lap had he known it was the last one.
“I thought we had two laps to go when we went by,” he said. “And I thought I might be able to set something up to grab another spot or, hopefully two, on that last lap. I was hoping to get Matt. On the restart, I fell back to fourth, and I came down the hill and they said two to go and that gave me another lap. I had to put a lot of pressure on the 45 and I was lucky that I got him with such little time to go.”
CAISSE HOLDS ON FOR RUNNER-UP POINTS FINISH
Mike Olsen wasn’t the only driver with a case of the nerves Saturday afternoon. Sean Caisse, who has been a mainstay in the point battle all year long, was at risk to losing even the second place position in points to drivers Bryon Chew and Brian Hoar. He knew he needed an uneventful race with the best finish possible. Caisse pulled off his goal with a fifth place finish – obtained by driving in a way that seemed surprising for the young hotshoe – conservatively.
“We had more to lose than we had to gain in this race. I knew that going in. We could’ve fallen back to fourth in the points,” he said. “We’ve had a few issues the last couple of weeks and we needed a good rebound race. We needed to run a conservative race and I think we did. We ran the top-10, top-15 most of the race and we finished in the top-five. My guys have done a great job all year, and I have to congratulate Mike Olsen and the whole 61 Little Trees team (on their championship).”
Caisse hopes to return to the Busch East Series next season, though he admits a deal is not quite in place just yet. He wants to take another shot at the title, using some of the things he learned his mentor Andy Santerre and his fiercest competitor Mike Olsen.
“I’ve learned a few things this year. I made a few mistakes, had a few equipment failures, but I think we’re only going to be stronger next year,” Caisse admitted. “A championship would be nice, but it isn’t that easy. It just goes to show you how hard it is to compete every week and to be able to run like Mike did all year. I think his worst finish was a ninth place and he finished every lap. He’s a good points racer, and that’s what makes him so competitive. We can’t have the DNF’s like we had this year, and I made a few mistakes out on the track that cost me some points also. You just can’t go out there and win championships, but I have a great mentor in Andy Santerre in my corner. That’s all we need.”
NO BREAK FOR ROAD RACING GURU
One of these days, all the hard work Dale Quarterley puts into a race will pay off. But for now, the driver of the No. 32 machine will just have to wait. Quarterley, a two-time winner at Lime Rock Park, was unable to get any practice time on Friday morning when team mate Jeff Anton broke a rear end. The team faced a dilemma – do they let Anton, a fixture in the top-10 Busch East Series point standings, take over Quarterley’s ride, or do they try and fix Anton’s #30?
Sean Caisse put up a strong fight with Olsen for the title, but needed just some better luck late in the season.
Quarterley's #32 at speed at Lime Rock.
“We had to decide if we were going to go home, get a new one, and try to fix it or just give him my car. He had practiced some already so we decided to fix it. My car is a top-three car and I hated to give up my ride. So that’s what we did – we went home and got a new rear end and we left my car alone,” Quarterley said.
Quarterley comes from a road racing background and is always considered a factor at Lime Rock Park. Last week was no different. The Westfield, Mass. driver started from the rear of the field and made it up to fourth before the race ever hit halfway. But trouble was lurking around the corner. In a battle with Brian Hoar, Quarterley
Ruben Pardo (#12) and Matt Kobyluck (#40) battled throughout the race.