Sean Caisse Wins Fifth Pole; Finishes 22nd at Dover
20-Year-Old Secures NASCAR Busch East Season's Bud Pole Award
CONCORD, NC (September 25, 2006) -- When a race team has the impressive streak of strong qualifying efforts and solid finishes the way Sean Caisse and the Andy Santerre Motorsports team had at the outset of the 2006 NASCAR Busch East Series season, they may seem invincible. Even though the ASM team continued to go in to each race with the same level of preparation and determination, the last three events at Waterford Speedbowl, New Hampshire International Speedway, and this past Friday afternoon at Dover International Speedway did not quite go according to plans for the Casella-backed #44 team.
The Dover weekend started out perfectly, as the 20-year-old Caisse stormed "The Monster Mile" in qualifying to pick up his fifth Bud Pole Award of the season, thus clinching the most poles of all the drivers this year. Even in the race, Caisse was in contention to win. Unfortunately, the good luck ran out late in the event, as a mechanical problem internally on the #44 caused the young driver to scrape the wall, causing damage that put the team behind the pit wall for the remainder of the day.
Caisse was credited with a 22nd-place finish at Dover.
"The car was on the tight side all day. I don't know if we had a shot at winning or not, but I was saving my stuff there for the end," said Caisse. "I drove it into (turns) one and two hard on top and all of a sudden something let go in the front end. Apparently, on the upper A-frame, there's supposed to be steel slugs in there and one of them was aluminum. It was starting to pivot its way out and it wound up breaking. We went up and tagged the wall and then, all of a sudden, something broke. Going into turns three and four, the car didn't turn at all and the A-frame actually disconnected from the chassis on the right front."
Caisse traded the lead back-and-forth with Tim Andrews from the start of the race, but found himself back in control when a caution flag flew just a few laps short of the race's halfway point. It was time for Caisse to come to the attention of the ASM crew for tires and fuel, but a miscommunication between officials and the team caused Caisse to miss the opening of pit road, forcing him to pit a lap later than the rest of the leaders.
"That pit road situation was a tough deal. NASCAR said that pit road was closed when I was on the backstretch and I called in to my spotter right before we got to pit road and asked if he was sure pit road was closed. The light was red and he told me that they hadn't said anything to him. Right as I went by the commitment cones, it went green. It was really unfortunate that it put us back there. It didn't screw us up that much though. With so few cars on the lead lap, I think we still came out 12th."
With a new set of Goodyear tires on his #44 machine, Caisse began picking up spots one by one, eventually working his way back up to the top-five when the mechanical problems arose and put Caisse out of the race, 35 laps short of its conclusion.
With the recent string of bad luck, Caisse is not giving up and neither is the Andy Santerre Motorsports team. There is still one more points race remaining, this Saturday's season finale on the Lime Rock Park (CT) road course. And although he is now 109 points out of the championship lead, there is still an air of strength to the entire ASM team.
"We've done our best all year. I think (championship leader Mike) Olsen basically just has to keep his car out of trouble and he'll have the thing wrapped up. That is just what happens though; it's tough luck. We've had a good year. We just need to stay positive. We'll go to Lime Rock next week and get a solid run. We've got to protect second place in the standings at least at this point. You never know what can happen.
"I'm excited about going back to Lime Rock. We went there with a short track car last year and I think we actually had a top-five car. Unfortunately for us, the brakes started failing late in the race, but we still ended up with a top-10 finish. I'm just looking forward to running the piece that Andy built brand-new last year. I'm pretty optimistic that we'll be able to get a good finish. Hopefully we can rebound off of the results of the last two weeks results and stay focused on what we have to do.
"We need to build a little bit of momentum back up. We've had good runs going into the last three weeks but they've been shot. It started at Waterford and continued all the way into Loudon and finally Dover. We need to stop that. We know that there are a lot of things that can happen on a road course, so we just want to stay out of trouble and get a respectable result out of it."