ES: Elko: Round two preview

* Sean Caisse "Cases" Elko Speedway And Iowa Speedway * NASCAR Grand National Teams Prepare For First-Ever Combination Race * Fitz Motorsports' Ruben Pardo Swaps Sponsors During Weekend, Gains New Crew Chief DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 15,...

* Sean Caisse "Cases" Elko Speedway And Iowa Speedway

* NASCAR Grand National Teams Prepare For First-Ever Combination Race

* Fitz Motorsports' Ruben Pardo Swaps Sponsors During Weekend, Gains New Crew Chief

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 15, 2007) -- NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series driver Sean Caisse (No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet) is anxious for this weekend's combination races with the NASCAR West Series to begin. After finishing second in the 2006 NASCAR Busch East Series points chase, and finishing second in the series 2007 opener at Greenville, S.C., on April 28, the 21-year-old has some experience he thinks will serve him well in the approaching doubleheader weekend.

The NASCAR Grand National Division is comprised of the largely California-based NASCAR West Series and the North Carolina and northeastern-based NASCAR Busch East Series. The series are joining at mid-continent to compete together in official point races for the first time. The weekend opens Friday, May 18, with the Minnesota 150 at Elko (Minn.) Speedway, a .375-mile oval near Minneapolis, Minn. The second half of the race weekend is the Featherlite Coaches 200 at the .875-mile D-shaped oval of Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, about 240 miles south of Minneapolis.

Caisse says he and teammate Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 1 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet) are ready to go, based on a recent test session at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

"We didn't get to test at either track, but (West Series drivers) Mike David and Andrew Myers and (fellow Busch East series driver) Chase Austin were lucky enough to do a media tour at both places last week," Caisse said. "I can tell you they're both beautiful facilities and we're looking forward to racing at them.

"I kind of compare Elko to Lake Erie Speedway (in Pennsylvania) where we raced last year," Caisse said. "They're pretty close to the same size and similar progressive banking, so that will help us with our set-up there."

Caisse finished second to Mike Olsen at Lake Erie last year.

A set-up to use as a baseline for their first appearance at Elko Friday should help Caisse and his teammate Earnhardt. Like most teams, the two drivers will bring a short track car for Elko and a superspeedway car for Iowa.

Caisse says series rookie Earnhardt, 17, has the talent to succeed in the NASCAR Busch East Series and beyond.

"Jeffrey did awesome for his first time on a track that big," Caisse said of the recent test session at New Hampshire. "He adapted very quickly. He surprises us each week with how fast he's developing. I'm really proud of him and I'm glad he's my teammate. It won't belong before you see both of us up front going for top-five finishes."

What both teams learned about their superspeedway cars at New Hampshire will be used as a basis for their car set-ups at Iowa.

"My hat's of to NASCAR for finding two great race tracks that are great additions to our series," Caisse. "It's pretty cool we'll be able to go out there and introduce ourselves and our series and create some new fans."

NEWS & NOTES

The race ... The Minnesota 150 is the second race on the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series schedule for 2007. It is the first visit to the state of Minnesota in the 21-year history of the series.

The track ... Elko Speedway is a high-banked, .375-mile paved oval with a rich 40-year racing heritage. It is located near Elko, Minn., south of Minneapolis.

First combo race for Grand National Division ... This event is the first of two back-to-back combination races for the NASCAR Grand National Division, which is comprised of the West Series and the Busch East Series. After this race, the division heads to Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. This weekend marks the first time for the West Series and Busch East Series to compete in the same event for championship points. Top competitors from each series, meanwhile, have faced off in postseason action for the past four years in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

Competing for spot in prestigious All-Star event ... In addition to the honor of winning the first-ever NASCAR Grand National combination race, the race winner will also be assured of a starting spot in the 2007 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Only Grand National race winners and champions of the NASCAR Developmental Series will be locked in to the field. All others must race their way in.

Advance media visit ... Four NASCAR Grand National Division drivers visited Elko Speedway for an advance press conference with the media on May 9. Joining David for the special media visit were fellow West Series driver Andrew Myers (No. 44 Toyota of Escondido/NEO Chevrolet) and Busch East Series competitors Sean Caisse (No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet) and Chase Austin (No. 66 Homelife Communities Dodge).

Record-Setting Ruben Pardo ... Ruben Pardo became the first driver from Mexico to win in the NASCAR Busch East Series in 2006. Pardo, 27, of Mexico City, won the series season finale at Lime Rock Park, a 1.53-mile road course in Lakeville, Conn. His Fitz Motorsports Dodge will change sponsors between this weekend's events. At Elko on Friday, Supercuts will be his primary sponsor. Sunday at Iowa Speedway, the car will be sponsored by Family Dollar. In addition, since the April 28 season-opener in Greenville, S.C., Pardo's team has acquired a new crew chief, Jerry Kelly.

Greenville race premiers on SPEED ... The NASCAR Busch East Series Greased Lightning 150 taped at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C., April 28 premiers on SPEED Wednesday, May 16 at 12 p.m. (EDT). The 90 minute race package is part of SPEED's "Racing Across America" program.

FAST FACTS

What: Minnesota 150 NASCAR Grand National Division, Combination Race

Where: Elko Speedway, Elko, Minn.
When: 9:00 p.m., Friday, May 18.

Track layout: .375-mile paved oval.
Distance: 150 Laps, 56.25 miles.

Posted Awards: $133,817

TV: HDNet
SPEED (Enhanced replay, May 30, 12 p.m. ET)

2006 winner: Inaugural event.
2006 polesitter: Inaugural event.

Records: To be established.

Pre-race schedule: Friday -- Practice, 1:15-3:15 p.m. Qualifying, 7 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Andrew Myers , Sean Caisse , Rubén Pardo , Jeffrey Earnhardt , Chase Austin