DEFENDING ROOKIE OF THE YEAR READY FOR BIG YEAR WITH ANDY SANTERRE MOTORSPORTS Championship Dreams are on Caisse's Mind in Sophomore Season CONCORD, NC (May 4, 2006) -- When the final checkered flag of the 2005 NASCAR Busch North ...
DEFENDING ROOKIE OF THE YEAR READY FOR BIG YEAR WITH ANDY SANTERRE MOTORSPORTS
Championship Dreams are on Caisse's Mind in Sophomore Season
CONCORD, NC (May 4, 2006) -- When the final checkered flag of the 2005 NASCAR Busch North Series fell at Thompson International Speedway in Connecticut, one former champion had made his final ride while a young upstart had completed an unprecedented rookie season. Both left Thompson with some new hardware, as Andy Santerre clinched his fourth straight BNS championship and Sean Caisse took home his Rookie of the Year honors.
When both Santerre and Caisse returned to their homes after the 2005 season, each agonized over their plans for 2006. Does Santerre come back to go after a fifth title? Does Caisse stay with his team for a second season or move on to another team?
Santerre decided to step down as driver of the #44 Chevrolet for the GRIZCO Racing team, leaving the defending champ's seat vacant. Caisse, despite winning Rookie of the Year in 2005, knew that with the right opportunity, his sophomore season could bring a championship.
All the stars had aligned for one of the most formidable pairings in the newly-renamed NASCAR Busch East Series for 2006.
GRIZCO Racing has transformed into Andy Santerre Motorsports with the four-time champ calling the shots for Caisse in the 2006 NASCAR Busch East Series season. The Pelham, NH-native Caisse has relocated to Charlotte, NC, and is working alongside Santerre in the ASM shop in Concord, NC, and the 20-year-old is ready to get going on the season that he hopes will bring another championship to Santerre's mantle.
"The way I look at it, I had a pretty good year last year, but it could have been better and I believe that this year we should finish in the top-five every race," said Caisse. "I've got the four-time champion on my side and with the quality of people that I have surrounding me on this race team I think that my goal to hopefully finish in the top-three every race, win a few races and the championship are attainable. It may sound a little lofty, but we've got our standards set high this year and we're going to do everything we can to make sure we meet our goals."
Caisse's goals may seem out of reach, but when you consider the amount of success that his car owner has seen over the years, it's hard to discount them. Santerre won his fourth-straight title as part of GRIZCO Racing with the help of two other drivers in the GRIZCO stable, Mike Stefanik and Brad Leighton. Stefanik finished second to his teammate in the final BNS standings, while the former champ Leighton ran competitively on a part-time basis for the three-car GRIZCO team.
With Santerre's decision to hang up the driving shoes and take the management position with the team, GRIZCO Racing became Andy Santerre Motorsports and went from a three-car organization to one focused only on the #44 entry. Caisse was named the driver during the winter and his sponsor, Casella Waste Systems of Rutland, VT, came along with him to ASM. Being the new part of a proven team does not faze the young driver, however.
"People put a lot of focus on me and it puts a lot of pressure on me too, but if you are looking at where you are going in the sport, you have to be able to do well under that pressure. I'm in a championship-caliber team and I have to prove that I deserve this shot. I want to be a Nextel Cup driver down the road, so if I want to race with the best drivers in the country, I better be able to handle the pressure of the Busch East Series."
While Caisse knows that he'll have a lot of eyes on his Casella Waste Management #44 this year, he is also very aware that there will be plenty of other drivers in the Busch East Series ready to dethrone the #44 from the championship.
"I have just as good of a chance at winning the championship as probably the top-three or four cars out there. "We have the resources and the equipment that not many teams have in the Series. I know it's not going to be easy, but as long as we have some good luck and we don't get into any messes that we're not supposed to get into, then we'll be in good shape. There are a handful of strong guys out there in the series, but I'm happy to have this opportunity to show that we can compete with those strong guys."
Caisse will have his first opportunity to show that he and the Casella #44 Andy Santerre Motorsports team belong among the list of championship contenders when the NASCAR Busch East Series kicks off its 2006 season on June 10th at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC). The Busch East Series 150 at Greenville takes the green flag at 9pm live and in high-definition television on HDNet.