Caisse Tops The East and West in Elko Grand National Show by Penny Aicardi
Two Races In, This Youngster is Already Looking Towards a Title Run
Sean Caisse in victory lane.  (NASCAR / Denny Stremple Photos)
Sean Caisse has made it no secret that he wants a Busch East Series Championship. On Friday night, he made a stride towards achieving that goal by winning the Grand National Division's Minnesota 150 at Elko Speedway (MN).
Caisse held off Bryon Chew on a restart that extended the race to 156 laps.  Then he cruised to the checkers unchallenged in his No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet. The race marked the first ever combination event with both the East and West Series.

"My real goal coming into this race was just a top-five finish, so a win is a huge bonus for us,” said Caisse.  “We're points racing and we're trying to finish these races and come home with the championship. I learned a lot last season. We won three races, but I'd give them all up to win a championship.  It was just an awesome, awesome racecar tonight."

Caisse started on the pole and survived several restarts before 2006 defending Busch East Series Champion Mike Olsen charged from a fifth place starting position to take the lead on lap 28. Olsen led until lap 41 when caution once again put the duo side-by-side for a restart. They swapped the lead one more time before Caisse took over for good at lap 104.

"It was deja vu of Lake Erie last year,” said Caisse.  “It seemed like whoever had the top groove would have the lead. Mike had a really good car there, and I was catching him on the long run, but then I would start to catch him and back off because I knew I didn't have enough to get by him on a green flag deal. I just hung behind him and got him on the next restart on the outside. I don't know what happened to him because he fell back there a little bit, but he still had a really good car.”

"Sean and I had a really good race going," agreed Olsen. "We both gave each other room and didn't pressure each other too much. We knew we had to be patient. It was key tonight knowing that you have to go on to another race the next day."
Caisse easily paced the field as the laps wound down, but an accident between Joey Logano and West Series driver Brian Ickler tightened up the field for a green-white-checkered finish.

"He wrecked the both of us," Logano said of the incident with Ickler. "It served him right that he's got a wrecked car too. I was so much faster."
"I don't know if we could have gotten Sean Caisse there or not but I know if we had another restart we would have had a shot at it for sure," Ickler said. "The 10 [Logano] was just overdriving all night and he turned my good friend Peyton Sellers and he took us out."

Caisse held his own for the final restart and Chew was unable to mount a challenge. Caisse chalked it up to experience.

"I think the real advantage that I had over the 99 was that I was doing restarts the whole race,” said Caisse.  “I had a lot more practice at when to go, how hard to go, and when to get in the gas. Bryon did a great job. He's a great driver."

Chew's runner-up finish came unexpected to the driver, who started 23rd on the grid after a disappointing qualifying run.
Sean Caisse (#44) and Brian Ickler (#16) lead the field to the green flag at Elko.
"What a car, what a crew, what a race," said Chew. "I got into second and I thought I had a chance, but (Sean Caisse) started a little bit earlier than I did. It was what it was. I'm just excited to be here tonight, and I owe a lot to my crew and my Dad for giving me such an awesome car. To come up from 23rd is just unbelievable."

After the Elko race, only 25 points separated Caisse, who currently sits atop of the point standings with only two events complete, from Chew. Mike David from the West Series finished third followed by Rogelio Lopez and Olsen.
"There were a lot of good cars that went home from here tonight,” said Olsen.  “To come out of it with a car in one piece and a top-five finish is a great night. Of course, as a racer, you always want to win, especially after leading as much as we did tonight, but we'll take this."

Caution dominated the event with 72 laps run under yellow and a six minute red flag that halted the event all together.

"I expected (a lot of cautions) when I came here. It's a bullring. There's 30 big cars on a small track so it's a recipe for disaster," Greenville-Pickens Speedway winner Joey Logano said.

The Grand National Division continues the doubleheader weekend with the Featherlite Coaches 200 at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, May 20th.

1. (1) Sean Caisse, Chevrolet, 156 laps, $9,410
2. (23) Bryon Chew, Chevrolet, 156, $4,860
3. (18) Mike David, Ford, 156, $3,960
4. (12) Rogelio Lopez, Chevrolet, 156, $2,446
5. (5) Mike Olsen, Chevrolet, 156, $2,860
6. (11) Peyton Sellers, Chevrolet, 156, $1,600
7. (10) Jesus Hernandez, Chevrolet, 156,. $1,775
8. (16) Justin Lofton, Ford, 156, $1,503
9. (30) Eric Hardin, Chevrolet, 156, $2,403
10. (19) Michelle Theriault, Chevrolet, 156, $1,175
11. (9) Jamie Hayes, Chevrolet, 156, 1,100
12. (17) Matt Kobyluck, Chevrolet, 156, $1,985
13. (14) Eric Holmes, Chevrolet, 156, $1,050
14. (29) Jeff Anton, Chevrolet, 156, $1,435
15. (24) Mike Duncan, Chevrolet, 156, $1,360
16. (15) Jason Bowles, Ford, 156, $1,286
17. (7) Tim Schendel, Dodge, 156, $800
18. (26) Tim Woods III, Ford, 156, $928
19. (4) Joey Logano, Chevrolet, $800
20. (2) Brian Ickler, Chevrolet, 156, $2,710
21. (27) Ruben Pardo, Dodge, 155, $928
22. (25) Jonathan Smith, Chevrolet, 155, $1,082
23. (28) Johnny Borneman, Ford, 154, $1,210
24. (3) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 145, accident, $1,082
25. (8) Marc Davis, Chevrolet, 144, $800
26. (22) Alex Haase, Chevrolet, 108, $1,210
27. (20) Brett Thompson, Chevrolet, 67, clutch, $1,210
28. (13) Moses Smith, Chevrolet, 50, accident, $928
29. (21) Andrew Myers, Chevrolet, 50, accident, $1,210
30. (6) Richard Jarvis, Jr., Chevrolet, 37, engine, $800

Joey Logano