Holmes, Caisse Tangle Leaves Crowd On Their Feet
If you were in the stands at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday night, here is to hoping that you didn’t leave the stands early.  If you were watching on SPEED, here is to hoping that you didn’t fall asleep or turn the channel.

If you did, you missed one hell of a race.

sights on Kobyluck.   With a full head of steam, Holmes looked once on Kobyluck.  Then, he looked again.  The two raced side-by-side, which let Caisse catch back up and put him back into the mix.

Kobyluck made his move, taking the lead back from Caisse on lap 141 as all three drivers raced nose-to-tail and side-by-side.  Holmes followed his way by Caisse into second and set his sites on Kobyluck.   With a full head of steam, Holmes looked once on Kobyluck.  Then, he looked again.  The two raced side-by-side, which let Caisse catch back up and put him back into the mix.

On the white flag lap, Holmes made another charge.   So did Caisse.  Finally, heading into turn three, Holmes and Caisse made contact and Holmes crashed into the wall.  That allowed Kobyluck to take the checkers under less pressure than he’d found himself in over the last 50 laps. 

Matt Kobyluck celebrates in victory lane.  (51 photos)
It also made for the biggest win of Kobyluck’s career thus far.

“I don’t think I’ve had that much fun in a racecar in quite some time,” said Kobyluck.  “The last 10 laps were crazy.  It was controlled craziness though.  I needed to be on the high side and I know those guys wanted to be on the bottom.  In the years past, I wanted to be on the bottom to make any headway.  I could still run the bottom, but I was so much better on the top. 

“This is huge.  To come out here and race against the other top 29 teams in the grand National series is big.   And to pull off the win is a huge accomplishment because there was some stout competition here tonight.  My hats off to my guys, because they are
Eric Holmes was fast all weekend long, but contact ruined his evening.
The first half of the race, it looked like a two man show; Brian Ickler and Matt Kobyluck.   However, after the lap 100 break, the last 50 laps proved a totally different story.

Fans knew things were going to be crazy when, in the first corner of the first lap after the halfway break, things were three-wide three rows deep racing for the top spot.  And from there, it only got wilder.

The battle came over the last 15 laps and was between three drivers: Kobyluck, Eric Holmes and Sean Caisse. 

Holmes took the lead on lap 103, from Kobyluck, who had grabbed the lead off the lap 100 restart.   From there, Kobyluck and Caisse chased.  Then, on lap 125, Caisse got into the back of Holmes, loosened him up and took the lead. 

Things were not done though.  Bumpers were being used and sheetmetal was being used up.

Kobyluck made his move, taking the lead back from Caisse on lap 141 as all three drivers raced nose-to-tail and side-by-side.  Holmes followed his way by Caisse into second and set his
prepping these things and making them as bad ass as they are for me to drive.  This car was no less than spectacular tonight.  I knew early on we were going to have a dominant car.  Then, from lap 75 to 100, we had lost some ground.  I really wasn’t concerned though, because we weren’t running 75 laps at the end.  We were running 50.  and for 50 laps, the thing was bad ass.  We knew we were going to be hard to beat.”

It was hard to beat, but there were two other cars that had a shot.

Caisse was lucky to be up there after racing a backup car following a crash in Friday night’s qualifying races.  The car Caisse was piloting, nicknamed “Faith,” was one that he’d never sat in before Saturday night’s green flag.

“To take a backup car that had run all year and that I had never sat my butt in all year just shows how strong of a team we are,” said Caisse.  “These last 10 laps were wild.  Me and matt were running side-by-side.  We were running great.  Then, me and Eric got together there on the last lap.  Unfortunately, he chased it up the hill and got into the wall a little bit.  I hate it for him because he raced me clean all night long and he should have gotten a top-three finish out of it too.   You don’t like to see that happen when we are racing up there and we are all running good.”

Holmes might have had the best car of any of the three.  But the finish won’t show it.  It will show Holmes in 19th after his car ended up against the fourth turn wall.

Kobyluck's crew did some of their own  celebrating after the race.
“We had the best car,” said Holmes, who was the West Series champion.  “The transmission broke.  When we came in for the break, it was stuck in high gear.  They tried to pop it back out.  it shifted really nice.  I got the lead and was cruising.  The caution had came out and I went to grab the shifter and it was in third gear.  The shifter had broke.  I had fourth gear only.  The restarts killed me.  If I would have had a tranny, I don’t think anyone could have touched me.  The car was that good.

“The 40 (Kobyluck) and the 44 (Caisse) are the dirtiest drivers I’ve ever raced against.  I see why those two drivers wreck each other every week.  I give and take.  I gave them plenty of room.  The last accident was probably as much my fault as anyone.  I was committed to go down and my spotter said low as soon as I was going down there.  He still had some room to give me but he didn’t. 

“It’s disappointing to do all that work and not have the finish.  I’m happy though because we had a good car, the best car, and put on a show.  Just upset that we crashed this car.  We ran this car all year and never put a scratch on it.  Now, we wrecked it.”

The contact with Holmes left the fans cascading boos at Caisse on the frontstretch after the race.  It wasn’t anything new for Caisse though.  And it might have been ironic. 

All year long on the Busch East Series, Caisse and Kobyluck were known as rivals.  Sometimes, it was friendly, sometimes is wasn’t.  So, it was perfect that it came down between those two drivers.

“Me and Matt have gone leaps and bounds over where we used to be.  I gained a lot of respect for him tonight and I hope he did for me.  I’m glad an east guy won it.  It’s great.  We spent more money then we needed to this year and I’m pretty sure he did too.”

NASCAR Grand National Division
Irwindale Speedway    October 21, 2006
Final leaders of Saturday's $303,000.00 NASCAR Grand National Division stock car race with driver's starting position in parentheses, hometown, make and model of car, laps completed, winner's average speed, reason out (if any) and prize money.
1.  (6) Matt Kobyluck, Uncasville Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $30,000
2. (27) Sean Caisse, Pelham N.H., Chevrolet, 150, $21,000
3. (10) Mike David, Modesto Calif., Ford, 150, $13,300
4. (12) Tracy Gordon, Strong Maine, Ford, 150, $14,000
5.  (1) Brian Ickler, Poway Calif., Chevrolet, 150, $11,750
6.  (8) Tim Woods, III, Chino Hills Calif., Ford, 150, $10,500
7.  (5) Peyton Sellers, Danville Va., Chevrolet, 150, $10,000
8. (15) Brian Hoar, Williston Vt., Dodge, 150, $11,500
9.  (9) Scott Gaylord, Lakewood Colo., Chevrolet, 150, $9,000
10.  (4) Johnny Borneman, Ramona Calif., Ford, 150, $8,500
11. (22) John Freeman, Huntersville N.C., Dodge, 150, $10,500
12. (14) Austin Cameron, El Cajon Calif., Chevrolet, 150, $8,000
13. (25) Eric Hardin, Anaheim Calif., Chevrolet, 150, $7,500
14. (20) Jim Inglebright, Fairfield Calif., Chevrolet, 150, $7,250
15. (26) Kip Stockwell, Braintree Vt., Chevrolet, 150, $9,000
16. (17) Mike Duncan, Bakersfield Calif., Chevrolet, 150, $6,500
17. (13) Dion Ciccarelli, Severn Md., Ford, 150, $8,500
18. (19) Charles Lewandoski, Stafford Springs Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $8,500
19.  (7) Eric Holmes, Escalon Calif., Chevrolet, 149, $6,800
20. (23) John Salemi, Nashua N.H., Chevrolet, 149, $8,500
21. (29) Ruben Pardo, Mexico City Mexico, Dodge, 148, $8,000
22. (30) Jeff Anton, Russell Mass., Chevrolet, 147, $8,000
23. (11) Joey McCarthy, Randolph N.J., Chevrolet, 147, $8,000
24. (21) Jack Sellers, Sacramento Calif., Pontiac, 147, $6,000
25. (16) Mike Olsen, North Haverhill N.H., Chevrolet, 126, $8,000
26.  (2) Andrew Myers, Newport Beach Calif., Chevrolet, 46, $6,500
27. (28) Steve Portenga, Sparks Nev., Ford, 13, $6,000
28. (24) Bryon Chew, Mattituck N.Y., Chevrolet, 13, $8,000
29.  (3) Justin Lofton, Westmorland Calif., Chevrolet, 13, $6,000
30. (18) Mike Johnson, Salisbury Mass., Ford, 13, $8,000

Sean Caisse.
“The hatchet is buried,” said Kobyluck. 

And it wasn’t a matter to Kobyluck, who knew he would be tough to beat after the lap 100 break.

“We made a small track bar adjustment and a small wedge adjustment.   I knew we had to make a little adjustment.  I knew there was going to be some cautions there near the end.  Making that small adjustment was needed.. I knew it would let me be able to stand on the gas on the high side.

“After the break, it took about 10 laps to get the pressures up, then I could just haul the mail on the high side.  I kept it wound up and let it eat some pavement.  This is a huge win… huge.”

Following Caisse to the line was Mike David.  Tracey Gordon and Ickler rounded out the top-five drivers.