Before the Kobyluck-Caisse incidents, Caisse was looking to make some headway on championship point leader Mike Olsen. Olsen had been involved in an accident earlier in the race and was forced to try and come from the back. Caisse was running strong and looked to be the class of the field, along with Kobyluck, and looked to gain some points of Olsen. Instead, Caisse ended up losing points and find himself in a bigger deficit with just two races two races to go.
KOBYLUCK VS CAISSE RILVALRY OVERSHADOWS BES TITLE CHASE By Jeremy Troiano
New Hampshire Was Ugly, But Drivers Say Feud Is Over
On Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway, the NASCAR Busch East Series put on what was one of the ugliest races of the year. There is no doubt about it. The final results, which included 73 of the race’s 104 laps being run under caution, pretty much told the story.
But the biggest story that came out of New Hampshire was the heated rivalry between Sean Caisse and Matt Kobyluck, which was elevated after another set of on-track incidents unfolded between the two. On the flip side, the accidents had a dramatic effect on the championship as well.
The championship implications were huge, but everyone was really looking at the two incidents between the #44 (Caisse) and the #40 (Kobyluck) during the race and the war of words between the two afterwards when all was said and done.
The action started on lap 50 when the two drivers were coming up through the field. Caisse dove to the inside to pass Kobyluck in turn three and the two made contact. Kobyluck spun into the outside wall.
Whether that contact was intentional or not, and who’s fault it was, can be argued until kingdom come. In the end, only two people really have the answers.
The action continued then when Caisse was involved in another accident with Brian Hoar. That put Caisse in the back of the pack, right with Kobyluck. Just a few laps later, the two drivers got together again, with Kobyluck getting into the back of Caisse and spinning him around. In the process, Caisse collected Brad Leighton, who slammed hard into the outside wall.
NASCAR officials deemed the action by Kobyluck retaliation and parked him for the rest of the event. If it was or it wasn’t is another point that can be debated to no end. And again, only one person really knows.
The action started when Caisse (#44) and Kobyluck (#40) getting together the first time (top). Then, Caisse got spun again by Kobyluck, taking Brad Leighton (#35) with him. (Howie Hodge Photos)
But no matter whether it was or wasn’t, it set off a war of words between the two drivers that had been brewing for some time. Just a few weeks prior, the duo got together while racing for the win at Waterford Speedbowl (CT), and Kobyluck eventually went on to win over Caisse. The feud between the two might have actually started at New Hampshire a year ago though, when they made contact and Caisse spun out.
Saturday, the pot boiled over. And during post race interviews, both drivers took their own shots and were adamant at telling what happened in their eyes. However, it was their views toward each other that really had a lot of people’s eyes opening.
“Sean is young and he’s got a bright future ahead of him,” said Kobyluck. “He needs to be more concerned about how he conducts himself out there, especially when he gets up to the next level. If he gets that opportunity next year, those guys aren’t going to tolerate that crap. They will put him into the fence every lap of every race until he learns he has to have respect. It’s unfortunate because he’s got a fast car and a bright future.
“Even after the deal at Waterford, I walked up to him and congratulated him for the deal he’s got with Kevin Harvick (Caisse will make his NASCAR Busch Series debut with Kevin Harvick Inc. this weekend at Dover) and told him he deserved it and that he’s got the talent to do it. I told him this sincerely because he’s a bright kid and has a bright future ahead of him. But if he doesn’t gain respect, guys will teach him respect.
“Whether what he did on the track is payback from Waterford or not is from his perspective. I have no idea. Let him tell you that.”
After the race though, Kobyluck was puzzled as to why he’d gotten parked by NASCAR.
“I was surprised I got parked,” said Kobyluck. “If I wanted to park him, I’d park him the first lap of the race. It doesn’t take any talent to take someone out and it takes all the fun out of racing for me. I do this because I love to do it, I love the sport, and I love being able to be able to compete. You could take racing out of my life right now and I’d be just as happy that way, but I do it because I can and I can compete at the level that we are. It doesn’t have any bearing on me what Sean Caisse does.”
Caisse was very adamant after the race that Kobyluck had taken him out of purpose and in the process, let his emotions fly.
“It is a shame that someone can be that jealous that he has to take someone out,” said Caisse of Kobyluck. “He has a ton of money with that Mohegan Sun deal (Kobyluck’s sponsor). He’s got enough money he could do a (NASCAR Busch Series) deal. He’s tried it and guess what? He never made it. He’s got something up his butt. I don’t’ know what it is, but it’s pretty big.
“He came up to me before the race and was saying all of these things. He said he’s been proud to race with me and he’s happy for my deal for next year. He said ‘people think there is something between me and you. I don’t hate you.’ Well he did a great job of showing that that. You can’t trust him. It’s just unfortunate.
“That is fine though. There is sun on the horizon. Things are looking up for me. I’m working with a great guy in Andy Santerre. I’ve got a great deal with (Kevin) Harvick. We just have to look at Dover as another opportunity to close the gap on Mike (Olsen). I just hope NASCAR does the right thing and doesn’t let Kobyluck run the next couple of races or bans him from the series. He is just a weapon.”
Of course though… like any feud, time heals. And everyone, including the participants involved, can play Monday morning quarterback. Racing is ultimately a passionate sport, and things are said in the heat of the moment.
Sean Caisse (left) talks with team owner Andy Santerre (right) before the start of the race. (51)
With a title chase on the line, both drivers took a few days to reflect and their views on things had changed heading into this weekend’s event at Dover. Both drivers agreed that nothing will continue on into this weekend, especially being that the race is a Dover, one of the quickest tracks the series runs on all year long.
“A lot of stuff happened on the racetrack that was out of my control,” said Caisse on Wednesday. “It’s just unfortunate that everything happened, but we’re looking forward to the rest of the season. Unfortunately for me, no matter what happens, I may have said some things that I regret saying. In the heat of the moment, I was out of line and I apologize to Matt and his whole team for what I said about them. They have a strong operation over there and I apologize for saying what I did. There’s nothing that I can do that can take back all the words I said, except offer an apology.
Kobyluck's #40 gets ready to get loaded up after the race at New Hampshire.
“Whatever’s going on between me and Matt, we need to sit down and get things straight between us so that we can have an understanding and we can race for the win. We both have top teams, so there’s no reason why we can’t get along, run hard and give the fans exactly what they want – and that’s hard racing and hopefully close racing."
Kobyluck echoed Caisse’s statements on Wednesday, saying he is more worried about the next race rather than what happened last week.
“It is out of my mind,” said Kobyluck of the accident. “I’m not even thinking about it really. I probably forgot about it the day after I left the track. You have to. You got to move forward and focus on the next event with the same perspective that you are just going to the next event to win. If you get caught up into letting the last race dictate how your next event goes, you will never accomplish anything.
“I know NASCAR’s eyes will be watching the both of us, but I’m not going to let it influence what our objective is going into Dover. They are going to be watching, but they are going to be watching me run up front and winning.”
Matt Kobyluck (51 photo)
“It definitely was a great comeback from where we were early in the race,” said Olsen. “I hated to have to be in that position. After the incident, I was a little concerned and a little bit down. We still had a good car, but there just wasn’t enough green flag racing there to get singled out. It could have been worse. We could have been out in that first crash and had it ruin our day, but we held on and finished in the top 10. It wasn’t bad.”
And Caisse came out with a bigger deficit than he’d hoped.
“I don’t know if (what went on with Kobyluck) is the breaker in the championship or not,” said Caisse. “If it is, so be it. Things that happen on the racetrack are out of my hands
sometimes. There is nothing that I can do about it nor is there anything I can say that will change it.”
Now, Caisse, Kobyluck and Olsen will all be able to look back on New Hampshire as a race that could have dictated the NASCAR Busch East Series Championship. And whether or not both Kobyluck and Caisse keep their promise and play nice at Dover this week remains to be seen.
Now, Olsen's (#61) and Caisse's (#44) championship battle is more interesting. (51 photo)