Leftovers: NASCAR Busch East Series at Stafford by Penny Aicardi
Eddie Mac Headed West? Bad Luck for Caisse & More
Eddie Mac is now qualified for the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale. (Mary Hodge Photo)
MacDONALD ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN BOUND?
Last year, Eddie MacDonald made seven starts on the Busch East Series. Only the top-15 in points were invited to the Toyota All-Star Showdown and therefore the Rowley, Mass. driver was excluded from being asked to sunny California for the biggest race of the year. But things have changed. MacDonald’s win last weekend guaranteed him a spot in the 2007 version. Will he go?
“If we can find a sponsor we would definitely go – especially being guaranteed,” he said. “I guess I have a lot of work to do to find a sponsor.”
MacDonald is the fourth Busch East Series driver to grab a coveted guaranteed starting position at Irwindale. Joey Logano, Sean Caisse, and Matt Kobyluck have all earned a spot with their victories this season.
OLSEN CLIMBING THE POINTS LADDER
Mike Olsen, the defending Busch East Series, Grand National Division Champion, made a major stride in the point battle last weekend with his runner-up finish. Olsen moved from fourth to second in the points and is only 40 points outside of the lead. Olsen has completed the most top-10 finishes of any of the drivers in the point chase having posted one in four of his five starts. However, Logano, the current point leader, owns two wins while Olsen remains shut out of victory lane.
“I’d really like a win,” admitted Olsen. “But consistency has always been our strong point. Hopefully, we’ll be able to win one here pretty soon. We’re getting closer to it every week. The guys have been working really hard and New Hampshire is coming up. That is by far one of the most memorable wins of our career. If I could pick one to win it would definitely be there.”
SOMETIMES WE CRASH AND BURN
Late in the TSI Harley Davidson 150, a battle between Peyton Sellers and Joey Logano off a restart turned bad. The two made contact in the middle of turns one and two and the outcome
was not pretty for anyone involved. Logano had to pit to fix the damage to his No. 20 Chevy and Sellers was sent to the rear of the lead lap cars for aggressive driving.
“It was a tough deal, but we had a better car than Joey,” Sellers said. “We ran in front of him for 100 laps or so, but he got a good jump on that restart. He got on the outside and he almost cleared me. He started coming down on me and I just jumped on the brakes and the car got out from underneath me. I got into him a little bit, but I think it was in part from him going down the track and me going up the track. It’s racing.
"I don’t 100 percent agree with NASCAR’s call, but they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do. There’s no hard feelings so we’re just going to go to Loudon and try to have a good race there.”
Logano showed a lot of maturity in his response to the incident after the race saying, “I had him cleared, but things happen. I knew I was faster than him from the run before, but I was only faster in one and two. In three and four my car wasn’t any good. I knew when we started on the outside I was going to have a chance to get by him. I had him almost clear going into one and I think he came off of four real loose. He went down into one and he was still sideways I think. He went up into my left rear. I got into the wall and I was surprised the car still rolled after that. I guess an 11th place – I’ll take it – but we really should have had a third place finish.”
Marc Davis, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet, posted his second straight top-five finish in as many weeks. Davis, who ran the 92 at South Boston last week and will again at Dover for a special sponsor promotion, got by Bryon Chew in the closing laps for a fourth place finish.
Sellers (#83) and Logano (#20) made contact in Staffor'ds first turn (top), that sent Logano spinning (bottom). (Howie Hodge photos)
"We picked up a few spots, but I think we really needed a long run to get a shot at how good our car really was,” he said. “After a few laps we’d really get it up to speed. This is our second top-five finish in a row so this is really good for us. We were jus cruising for the first 100 laps and just riding around. We picked up a couple of spots when some of the guys in front of us got into trouble, but it was a pretty calm race for us.”
Davis is being coached by Mike “Magic Shoes” McLaughlin, a staple in the history of racing in the northeast. He ran at Stafford Motor Speedway himself behind the wheel of a Modified car before he went on to a successful career in the NASCAR Busch Series.
“He’s been our driver coach for some time now,” Davis said. “He’s a big help. He knows what the car needs to do and he knows how to say it.”
Marc Davis' #18 at Stafford (Rick Ibsen Photo)
YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME
Sean Caisse has seen a lot of success on the NASCAR Busch East Series, but over the last couple of weeks, he’s has been on the wrong side of luck. At Stafford, Caisse was forced to bring his No. 44 machine down pit road after leading the first 30 laps of the race.
“It’s hard (giving up the lead), but there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. “We were running well. I guess we sheered the right front lower control arm off the chassis. We didn’t break the weld – it just sheered right off the chassis. I’m a little confused by it. (Car Owner) Andy Santerre has never seen that before. We just have to hold our heads up high. We’re doing everything right and we’re running really well.”
HOLMES SETTLES AT STAFFORD
It appeared as if 2006 West Series Champion Eric Holmes was headed for a top-five finish at Stafford Motor Speedway, but as they say, appearances are often deceiving. A flat tire during the TSI Harley Davidson 150 ended all chances for a top-five finish and the driver of the No. 35 machine had to settle for 19th.
“This is one of the places I've heard a lot about and I've always wanted to race here. The car's probably the best we've had it all year. We had a flat tire," he said after the race. “We were having a good night, I was just kind of riding there around sixth or seventh and the car was pretty good, but I got a flat and we were stuck in the back. I didn't want to tear it up racing with those guys so I played it safe to get a finish. At least the car was good car to start with, so we're making progress.”
OVERHEATING PROBLEMS THWART CAISSE
Caisse was running so well prior to the problems that he didn’t just set fast time in qualifying – he shattered a qualifying record held by Kelly Moore that stood for six years.
“We didn’t do a time trial run in practice and we were fourth (fastest). We really focused on our car for the long run so I didn’t really expect to go out there and sit on the pole,” he said. “I guess when you’re sideways and wheeling the thing you turn a good lap sometimes.”
Caisse could dwell on his past two finishes, but is surprisingly optimistic in the face of adversity.
“I’m doing what I love to do,” he said. “We’ll keep plugging away. I’m proud of all my guys and they are doing a great job. I’m not the only one dealing with a little hardship.
We’re a team and we’ve got to take these hurdles in stride as a team. You can’t do it alone. I know Andy has poured his heart and soul into this operation, and he wants us to succeed more than anybody.”
ON THE UPSIDE
Matt Kobyluck knows all about bad luck, but his finish at Stafford Motor Speedway has proven that his win at South Boston was definitely a turning point in his season. Kobyluck backed up the win with a third place finish at Stafford after leading 38 laps of the event.
“I’m happy to get another top-five,” he said. “I’m just disappointed because the car was so much better earlier in the race than it was at the end. I didn’t lose any brake, but it was like something broke in the car. The nose was just driving up the racetrack like the licker in the rear end broke or something. It would just lock up instead of letting it release so I could turn in the corner. It was a handful those last few laps. We salvaged a third out of it, but at that point that was the best we were going to do.”
Caisse's team even got some help from rival Matt Kobyluck's team to repair mechanical issues at Stafford. (Jim DuPont photo)