Irwindale, Calif. -- Sean Caisse knows that all eyes in the NASCAR developmental world right now are on Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano. And that's just fine for Caisse, who stole some of that attention by bumping Logano off the pole during...
Irwindale, Calif. -- Sean Caisse knows that all eyes in the NASCAR developmental world right now are on Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano. And that's just fine for Caisse, who stole some of that attention by bumping Logano off the pole during Friday's qualifying for Saturday's NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway.
Caisse qualified at 98.517 mph. He eclipsed Logano's fast time of 98.253.
"The biggest thing is who's on the outside of me," Caisse said. "He's been in the spotlight all year. For him to be in the pole position and then knock him off it is a hell of an accomplishment. He's a great driver."
The top 34 cars advanced to Saturday night's main event. The remaining 16 raced later Friday night in the 50-lap 'Open' race, with the top six finishers transferring to Saturday's event.
Former Toyota Showdown winner Mike Johnson took the lead on lap two of the 50-lap Open and held on for the victory through several challenges, including a green-white-checkered finish that stretch the race to 54 laps. Greg Pursley finished second, followed by Ryan Philpott, Woody Pitkat, and Chris Bristol. Antonio Perez, a regular in the NASCAR Mexico Series, finished sixth and was the last car to transfer.
"I just want to everything I can drive; I love racing," Perez said. "This is a special moment for me. This is like a dream come true."
Pursley, a former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion, had a very special day as well. In addition to qualifying for Saturday's race, he won the NASCAR Super Late Model 150 presented by King Taco earlier Friday night. In that race, he dove inside track champion Rip Michels for the lead with 27 laps remaining and led the rest of the way.
"Winning the Toyota All-Star Showdown ranks right up there with my national championship," said Pursley, who won NASCAR's weekly series national title in 2004. "This race to us is like our Daytona 500. And it means everything to me."
Following a lap 136 caution, Pursley was able to hold off Michels, who made several attempts to slide underneath for the lead.
"Greg's on the very best I've ever raced against," Michels said. "We've had our day. Today was Greg's day. ... He just outdrove us and beat us."
For Caisse, it was a late draw in qualifying that helped him earn the pole for Saturday's race. Logano was the 23rd car in line; Caisse went out 40th out of 50 cars,
"The important part was not only the temperature, but mainly the visibility," Caisse said, noting the sun dipped below the horizon just as he took his second lap. "Really, it was a very lucky draw and I thought that had a huge factor in a good qualifying run."
Caisse finished second in the NASCAR Busch East standings to Logano and won the regular-season ending race at Dover International Speedway.
Mike Duncan qualified third at 97.890, followed by Logano's teammate Marc Davis at 97.768. Brian Ickler will start fifth and Matt Kobyluck sixth. Ickler won the West Series race at Irwindale in July, while Kobyluck is the defending champion of the Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Mike David, the West Series champion, qualified 15th but will have to start at the back Saturday. He got loose in turn 4 of his second qualifying lap and crushed the nose of the car into the wall just past the start-finish line.