Andy Santerre Motorsports Takes Top-Five Finishes at Lime Rock Sean Caisse Comes Mere Feet Short of Victory; Earnhardt Scores Career-Best Fifth HARRISBURG, NC (August 20, 2007) -- The curvy 1.53-mile road course at Lime Rock Park in the ...
Andy Santerre Motorsports Takes Top-Five Finishes at Lime Rock
Sean Caisse Comes Mere Feet Short of Victory; Earnhardt Scores Career-Best Fifth
HARRISBURG, NC (August 20, 2007) -- The curvy 1.53-mile road course at Lime Rock Park in the rolling Berkshire Mountains of Northwestern Connecticut touts seven unique turns and several elevation changes. With those twists, turns and hills comes the opportunity for some wild action.
In Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Busch East Series 82-lap event at Lime Rock, those curves and hills tried to keep Andy Santerre Motorsports from having a strong day, but nothing was going to keep Sean Caisse and Jeffrey Earnhardt from a stellar showing. Caisse was forced to start at the rear of the field after suffering transmission problems in qualifying and rallied his way to a shot at the victory, eventually coming just a few feet short of the win, while DEI Development Driver Jeffrey Earnhardt scored a career-best, fifth-place run in his first-ever road course start.
It was Caisse that led the way for ASM, but it certainly wasn't easy for the young driver. The qualifying issues nearly put a damper on the day for the Casella #44.
"We lost a transmission. It was a faulty part," said Caisse. "Things break sometimes."
Undeterred, Caisse and the Andy Santerre-led team decided to use strategy to their advantage after starting 29th.
"You just got to ride in the beginning, let people fall out, and not try to gain too much because you feel like you're out of sequence," said Caisse. "We played the cards of pitting early for fuel. We pitted on lap 16. If it had stayed green for the rest of the race, we would have run out, but we played that game and it paid off because there were a lot of cautions. The safety workers here took a long time to get the track clear. I'm glad that they took the time to make sure the track was safe before we went green.
"We were really good on a short run, and that's how I was able to give Mike (Olsen) and Matt (Kobyluck, the race winner) a run for their money. It was just the strategy we played and it just worked out. After all the pits cycled out we were eighth or ninth, and now I just had to pick off some good competitive cars."
Caisse had worked his way to third when the BES field took the green flag on a lap 59 restart and found himself with the opportunity to go for the lead. The young racer blasted to the lead on the restart but could only hold it for a couple of laps. From there, Caisse settled into a podium position, waiting for that one last shot to get the win, which came on the final lap.
When Caisse, Olsen and Kobyluck, the three main combatants for the race victory, wound through the LRP road course for the final time, they all hit an oil-covered patch of track in the final turn. All three drivers found themselves in trouble, but Kobyluck and Caisse straightened out their cars enough to battle to the checkered flag.
"When the last lap came around Andy (Santerre) was screaming, 'Back it down, back it down!," said Caisse. "I started slowing down, saw the oil, saw them starting to spin off the track, so I was trying to save it. I went straight through it and I was just coasting and they yelled on the radio, 'Get on the gas! Get on the gas! Go! Go! Go!' So I got on the gas real hard and I was catching Matt. Then all of a sudden we ran out of like ten feet of racetrack.
"It was a pretty cool finish for us. It was definitely a win for us to come out of here with a second-place podium finish."
DEI Development Driver Jeffrey Earnhardt, racing a DEI/Pittsburgh Paints/Menards #1 Chevrolet prepared by Andy Santerre Motorsports, made the day at Lime Rock an even bigger success for the ASM team by scoring his best-career Busch East finish. Earnhardt came into the LRP event having never raced there or at any road course before, but a recent test session at Virginia International Raceway and some hard work allowed the young driver to notch his first top-five series finish.
"There were quite a few close calls actually," said Earnhardt. "I set it off in the grass here a couple of times -- actually just once to miss a wreck. A bunch of guys piled up. I tried to run as safe as I could the whole race and keep our nose clean, and I think we did a pretty decent job of it. Everybody wadded them up, we got lucky, and got a fifth-place finish out of it. It wasn't bad. I'm pretty proud of all the guys and I'd like to run another one.
"You had to be patient and just move when you could. You couldn't really force the issue unless time started winding down, but you had to be patient and keep it on the track. It's fun to go all different ways. It's a fun track, and I like it."