“With 10 laps to go, we were restarted 10th on the outside, which was the fast groove. We had some slower cars around and probably would have gotten up to sixth or seventh. Nobody could hold it on the bottom anymore and that outside lane was going to take off on the last restart.”
In the end though, Freeman was cursed with the same type of bad luck that has plagued him all season long.
“The lights went off on the pace car and we had a right rear tire go flat. That is number four in a row when it comes to bad luck for us.”
Overall though, the young driver was excited about what he was able to accomplish at Thompson.
“This was my first time stepping foot here,” said Freeman. “It was fun to be able to mix it up with the Mike Olsens and the Mike Johnsons out there. I just wish that we could have been there for the end.”
OLSEN DICES IT UP
Actually, the Mike Olsens and Mike Johnsons of the race probably had the best battle of the night. The two raced hard and clean through the closing laps before Johnson ended up fourth and Olsen ended up sixth.
BUSCH EAST LEFTOVERS: THOMPSON By Mike Twist
Where Starting on the Front Row Was Bad and Wrecking and Practice Turned Out Good
HOAR GOES FROM PRACTICE WRECK TO SECOND-PLACE FINISH
Just a few moments into the first practice session, one look at Brian Hoar’s car would have made any observer really doubt that it would even race later in the day, much less be capable of the second-place finish that it ended up with at the end of the night.
Hoar wrecked his #45 Dodge in turn four just as practice began. The opening races of 2006 had not been kind to the Vermont driver or his team, so nobody would have blamed the team for calling it quits right then and there.
“We came this close to loading the car up, closing the trailer up and just leaving,” said Hoar. “The last two weeks have been rough and our attitude was in the dumps. We asked ourselves if we could get this car fixed.”
The answer from Hoar’s team? A resounding yes.
“They worked their asses off and they did a good job,” said Hoar after the race, pointing to the underside of his
Brian Hoar's team had some work cut out for them at Thompson, but they were rewarded with a runner-up finish in the race. (Glen Davis Photo)
car that was now loaded on the top level of his hauler. “See the rear clip? See how it is bent? That whole fuel cell is bent way over. I’ve got no rear bumper and the entire section is twisted over a good four-plus inches. The whole rear clip is bent. That happened in the first practice. Literally, it was pancaked. Fortunately, it didn’t bend any suspension parts.”
With all of their practice time tied up in fixing the car, the team had little time to adjust it. That’s why it was a good thing that Hoar had a fast car to work with before even getting to the track.
“Thank God it was fast right off the truck because we missed the entire first practice. We made it out for the second practice because amazingly we had three hours between practices and that never happens in this series. We made a few laps and were fifth or sixth fastest [in that practice session].”
CAISSE HAS NIGHT OF PROMISE GO BAD
Another driver who also saw his fortunes change between practice, qualifying and the race was Sean Caisse. Unfortunately for this young New Hampshire driver, his fortunes went from good to bad.
For most of the day fell into the hands of Caisse and the #44 Andy Santerre Motorsports team. Their Casella-backed Chevrolet was quickest in practice. It was quickest in qualifying and for the first 14 laps of the race it was quickest in the main event as well.
By lap 15 though, Caisse was coasting into the infield and looking at a 28th-place finish after a mount broke in the rear end of the #44 and caused some major driveline problems.
“This was something that bites one person a year and tonight that was us,” said Caisse. “It broke on the left side and that is what holds the rear end square to the car. When it broke, that shifted the rear end over in the car and it peeled right off and broke the driveshaft in half.
“I’ll tell you what, we had an awesome car before that and it’s unfortunate.”
So far in 2006, Caisse and the ASM team have been a force to be dealt with at every track that they have visited. Up until bad luck struck them at Thompson, that race was no different.
“We’ve had the fastest car in practice all four weeks. We’ve got three out of four poles and we’ve won two races.”
The team is looking forward to their next race, the July 8th event at Lake Erie Speedway, and plan to rebound the next time out.
“We can’t look at the points,” added Caisse. “We just have to start finishing in the top-five and the top-three and not have any DNFs. Those DNFs don’t win you championships. Andy Santerre had not had a DNF for five years. When this broke, he came up to me and told me that he hadn’t broken anything in five years and that he was sorry that it had to happen to me. It was just the luck of the draw.
“It’s tough to swallow, but we’ll try to do it again at Lake Erie. Andy has some wins there and I like the place. We’re just going to go there and try to rebuild our momentum because we lost some tonight.
“I’m excited to go [to the next race]. We need to get back on top and start winning races again. We’ve just got to play catch-up. We just can’t have any more mistakes, even though this one was out of our hands.”
MacDONALD KEEPS HEAD UP AFTER ROUGH NIGHT
Starting on the front row was not a good omen when it came to logging a good finish at Thompson. As we just saw, it wasn’t a good night for polesitter Sean Caisse. It also wasn’t a good night for defending race winner and outside polesitter Eddie MacDonald.
MacDonald’s #48 had an electrical problem on the start of the race.
“We probably would have had a chance to be right up there and even contend for the win tonight I think,” said MacDonald. “It’s tough to predict not knowing how it was going to play out, but we had an electrical problem right on the first lap.”
MacDonald lost three laps while making repairs. He was able to make of those laps up and finished 20th. Since he was multiple laps down, the lucky dog rule did not help him get back to the lead lap.
“We got messed up with that lucky dog thing and it never worked out. It was almost impossible to get your lap back unless you could do it all in one shot.”
MacDonald also had to be cautious to get the car to the finish, or otherwise he might not have a car for Lake Erie this weekend.
“It was really frustrating, but we had to be smart. We had to finish and keep the car in one piece to go on to next week. All of the guys have been working unbelievably hard.”
MacDonald and crew chief Rollie LaChance started the #48 team less than 10 days before the season opened after they found themselves without a ride. Without any major backing or sponsorship, they have made it to all of the events this year. At Thompson, they had the help of NEMO get them to the track…but there was nothing fishy about that deal.
“New England Mechanical Overlays (NEMO) helped us out and we wanted to have a good run for them,” said MacDonald. “We’ve been trying to find the sponsors that we can to make one week and then the next week. People have been unbelievable in trying to help. I appreciate everyone doing that and without all of these people, but wouldn’t be able to race. There are so many people helping out and I thank them for that.”
FREEMAN SEES NIGHT OF PROMISE GO SOUTH
Busch East rookie John Freeman finished 19th in his first race at Thompson.
MacDonald's #48 car.
John Freeman (51 Photo)
That sentence might seem to tell the entire story. After all, a top-20 finish when visiting a tough track for the first time isn’t anything to be ashamed of. But the final rundown doesn’t even begin to tell the story of Freeman’s race. It was an up-and-down affair when the young driver ran as high as fourth, got caught in a wreck not of his own doing, battled back and then had a flat tire drop him back in the field near the finish.
“The car was really fast, we were just trying to get some laps on the board and trying to save our stuff for the end,” said Freeman of his plan for the race. “We started out a little bit loose and when the track tightened up, we were getting better. We would have had a really good car for the end.”
But while running in the top five, that all changed.
“The car behind us said that they lost their brakes and caught us in the left rear. That spun us around and even though I saved it for the most part and only lost three spots, we had a lot of damage to the front end. That gave us a little aero push.”
Still, Freeman didn’t give up.
Caisse's #44 ride. (Glen Davis Photo)
“It was a good race for the fans at least,” said Olsen. “We needed to put on some kind of a show with all of those caution laps.”
But Olsen was disappointed with the finish. The 2001 Busch North champion just was not satisfied with sixth place.
“I had a better car than where I finished. We had a really good car and I hated to waste it. Every restart, I got stuck on the bottom and my car didn’t work well there. The one restart where I did get on the top, I got up to third. But we restarted on the bottom and I fell back to
fifth on that. I just couldn’t make the car work on the bottom and that was frustrating because I was quicker than he was.
ANOTHER TOP FIVE FOR CHEW
On the heels of his first NASCAR Busch East Series victory, Bryon Chew took home a fifth-place finish from Thompson. Things are going well so far this year for Chew’s #99 team, which sits third in the standings.
“We’ve got some good momentum going now. We’ve got
a good car and the crew is working hard. We were a little
bit off today and I tried to get what I could out of the car.
We finished where we were, so I was happy with that. I
Winning has been a big relief for Chew.
“I honestly feel a big weight off my shoulders and it feels
pretty good. Now it’s time to get down and get some