Sean Caisse Flexes Muscles at Thompson With Dominating Performance by Penny Aicardi
Ledas All But Two Laps In Wild Busch East Feature
This week, Caisse returned back to his winning form.
After taking the lead from Marc Davis on lap two, Caisse went on to dominate the Pepsi Racing 100 by surrendering to no one except Matt Kobyluck, who also led for one circuit, to win at Thompson International Speedway. It was Caisse’s second victory of the season and his first top-five since his win back in May at Elko Speedway.
“It’s really big for us because it’s not just your performance at the racetrack when things go bad,” said Caisse. “You have to take it back to the shop and that makes for long days and long weeks. When you have such good people around you and people are bickering at each other, it’s really hard to pull all together when you are dealing with all that adversity.”
But his Casella Waste Systems team led by owner, team manager and crew chief Andy Santerre didn’t have any problems pulling together at Thompson. After running 14th fastest in practice, Caisse went out and set the pole-winning qualifying lap. For the first time in weeks, the 21-year-old driver was confident in the time leading up to the race, but he wasn’t quite ready to say he’d win.
Sean Caisse celebrates his victory at Thompson. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Saturday night at Thompson International Speedway (CT) was a redemption of sorts for Sean Caisse, who for the last month of races has dealt with nothing but angst and struggle in the NASCAR Busch East Series. It’s been four races of mechanical problems, four races of wrecked cars, and four races of nothing but sliding down the points ladder.
“I just wanted a good, solid top-five finish,” he said. “But it sure feels good to win again. We got the pole here, but I’ve gotten the pole and lost a lot of races.”
Caisse initially got the lead on lap two when racing side-by-side with Marc Davis. Caisse pushed Davis up to the high grooving coming around in turn two and got the momentum to get out front.
“I feel really bad," said Caisse. "I had a large part in ruining Marc’s day. I told him, hey, last year you could get through that bump real easy with the gear that we had with the other motor. I apologized and I told him that, yeah, I did wash up the track and I was sorry for ruining his day. It doesn’t change it, but I wanted to be a man about it. He was cool about it.”
After that, Caisse just pulled away from the rest of the field – sometimes by as much as three seconds. He was flawless through the corners and no one could catch him. But the constant wrecks throughout the field kept forcing the Pelham, N.H. driver to prove himself all over again. His restarts, however, were questioned by NASCAR, who threatened to black flag him for jumping.
“I think part of it was that we were getting such good forward bite and Matt (Kobyluck) would almost try to go when I went, but we were so much more hooked up in the back that when I went, I would just go full throttle while Matt would have to roll into the gas. It made it look really, really bad like I was smoking him,”Caisse said.
Caisse was careful on his restarts, and on lap 92, Kobyluck was able to beat him to the line for the first time all night. Kobyluck led through one and two, but Caisse easily passed him to reclaim the point.
Two late-race cautions extended the race distance to 108 laps and gave Kobyluck, a final chance at the lead. A final caution on the white flag lap ended the race under yellow conditions.
“I honestly thought I might catch Sean sleeping or something,” said Kobyluck, who finished second. “For the last two restarts I could hang with him, but after that he had a better car on the long runs and I couldn’t.
"I figured I’d give it everything I could on a couple restarts to get in front of him and make him have to get back by me. At least I might steal a win or something. You never know what happens: a guy could get loose in, check up, they could slip up, whatever. I was just giving it everything I had and giving him a run for his money,”
Mike Olsen, who shadowed Kobyluck all night, finished a solid third. Brad Leighton and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five.
“We were 14th in that first practice session and my car was junk,” Caisse added. “We just kept working on it and working on it, and we never gave up. We got the car to where I liked it and we got the pole.
While Caisse had a great night, several driver had anything but fun at Thompson - with nine caution periods coming out in the 100-lap race. (Top - Jamie Williams Photo, Middle and Bottom - Rick Ibsen Photos)
"We knew from last year what the track did at night – which I think was an advantage. I knew it was going to tighten up so we made some adjustments to compensate for the weather changes and we knew we were going to have a great car. The competition level at where it’s at, it’s really impressive for my team to give me a car that dominant tonight.”
Caisse’s performance moved him to fifth in the points – a dramatic seven position leap from last week’s point standings.
The NASCAR Busch East Series returns to action next weekend with a stop at Music City Motorplex in Nashville, Tennesse.
NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series
New England 125 Results
Saturday, July 14th
Thompson Int'l Speedway - Thompson, CT
1. (1) Sean Caisse, Pelham, N.H., Chevrolet, 108 laps, 64.060 mph, $8,000. 2. (12) Matt Kobyluck, Uncasville, Conn., Chevrolet, 108, $3,665. 3. (7) Mike Olsen, North Haverhill, N.H., Chevrolet, 108, $3,300. 4. (13) Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H., Chevrolet, 108, $2,500. 5. (4) Joey Logano, Middletown, Conn., Chevrolet, 108, $2,300. 6. (8) James Buescher, Plano, Tex., Chevrolet, 108, $1,450. 7. (9) Ruben Pardo, Mexico City, Mex., Dodge, 108, $1,050. 8. (15) Bryon Chew, Mattituck, N.Y., Chevrolet, 108, $1,500. 9. (11) Eric Holmes, Salida, Calif., Chevrolet, 108, $975. 10. (20) Jeff Anton, Russell, Mass., Chevrolet, 108, $900. 11. (19) John Salemi, Nashua, N.H., Chevrolet, 108, $875. 12. (5) Peyton Sellers, Danville, Va., Chevrolet, 108, $850. 13. (30) Dustin Delaney, Mayfield, Conn., Chevrolet, 108, $1,775. 14. (10) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Mooresville, N.C., Chevrolet, 108, $725. 15. (25) Laine Chase, Beverly, Mass., Chevrolet, 108, $700. 16. (3) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., Chevrolet, 108, $675. 17. (23) Max Dumarey, Gent, Belgium, Chevrolet, 108, $650. 18. (6) Jesus Hernandez, Fresno, Calif., Chevrolet, 108, $650. 19. (18) Dion Ciccarelli, Severn, Md., Chevrolet, 107, $650. 20. (28) Chris Bristol, Columbus, Ohio, Dodge, 107, $650. 21. (21) Jonathan Smith, Beacon Falls, Conn., Chevrolet, 107, $650. 22. (22) Mike Johnson, Salisbury, Mass., Ford, 107, $650. 23. (16) Michelle Theriault, Bristol, Conn., Chevrolet, 106, $650. 24. (29) Glenn Sullivan, Westbury, NY, Chevrolet, 100, $650. 25. (14) Chase Austin, Eudora, Kan., Dodge, 99, $650. 26. (17) Rogelio Lopez, Aquascalientes, Mexico, Chevrolet, 91, $650. 27. (24) Jamie Hayes, Norlina, N.C., Chevrolet, 40, overheating, $650. 28. (2) Marc Davis, Mitchelville, Md., Chevrolet, 33, accident, $650. 29. (26) James Pritchard, Jr., Wharton, NJ, Chevrolet, 25, accident, $650. 30. (27) Scott Bouley, Wolcott, Conn., Chevrolet, 25, rear end, $650. Race Statistics Time of Race: 1 hour 2 minutes 43 seconds Margin of Victory: .328 seconds Fastest Qualifier: S.Caisse (109.508 mph, 20.382 seconds) Caution Flags: 9 for 47 laps. Lead Changes: 3 among 3 drivers. Lap Leaders: M.Davis 1; S.Caisse 2-91; M.Kobyluck 92; S.Caisse 93-108. Standings: 1. J. Logano, 1144; 2. M. Olsen, 1049; 3. M. Kobyluck, 1030; 4. P. Sellers, 994; 5. S. Caisse, 943; 6. B. Chew, 902; 7. J. Anton, 888; 8. J. Earnhardt, 880; 9. J. Hayes, 877; 10. J. Hernandez, 873.
Caisse (#44) races with eventual runner-up Matt kobyluck (#40). (Rick Ibsen Photo)