OLSEN EARNS FIRST SUPERSPEEDWAY VICTORY WITH LAST-LAP TRIUMPH OVER CAISSE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE INTL SPEEDWAY; STRETCHES BUSCH EAST SERIES POINT LEAD TO 54 LOUDON, N.H. -- Mike Olsen led only one lap in Friday's New England 125 NASCAR Grand...
OLSEN EARNS FIRST SUPERSPEEDWAY VICTORY WITH LAST-LAP TRIUMPH OVER CAISSE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE INTL SPEEDWAY; STRETCHES BUSCH EAST SERIES POINT LEAD TO 54
LOUDON, N.H. -- Mike Olsen led only one lap in Friday's New England 125 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway, but it was the one that counted. He dramatically passed Sean Caisse in turn three to win his first superspeedway race and score his second straight series win, boosting his point lead to 54 over Caisse, who led 95 laps, or over three-quarters of the race.
As late as lap 110, it looked like Caisse would cruise to his third win of the year, but he developed a push just as the track conditions came to Olsen late on the hot, humid afternoon. The Little Trees Chevrolet blew past Eddie MacDonald for second and began to close the gap on Caisse, At the five-to-go sign Olsen attempted a risky outside pass, got alongside the leader but could not complete the move. He tried the outside again at the white flag but switched to the inside in turn three. Caisse could not keep his car on the bottom and Olsen sailed to the win by 0.242 seconds, or about four car lengths. As the checkered flag waved, Caisse found himself in a drag race with Jerry Marquis for second, with Caisse prevailing in a near photo-finish.
Tracy Gordon charged into fourth in the closing laps with MacDonald hanging on for fifth. Busch Pole winner Brian Hoar was sixth with an engine which never matched its qualifying potential, while Sunoco Rookie contenders Ruben Pardo and John Freeman enjoyed career best finishes in seventh and eighth. Freeman won the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award. Dave Dion hauled all the way from 40th and last on the grid to take ninth place and the POWERade Power Move of the Race Award. Joey MCarthy completed the top ten.
Peyton Sellers, in his NHIS debut, led the first nine laps from his outside front row start before Caisse swept by to begin his dominating performance. Caisse pitted early, at lap 21, allowing another AutoZone West Series visitor and first-time NHIS competitor, Andrew Myers, to lead 19 circuits before Caisse again took command. Olsen's leadership of the last one-third lap won him $12,500 and helped him extend his Busch East Series lead, now 54 points over Caisse. Matt Koblyuck's terrible NHIS luck continued as his engine failed after 35 laps, leaving him 36th at the finish, now over 150 points behind Olsen and dropping to third place.
Nine caution periods slowed the pace for 44 laps as Olsen averaged 85.428 miles per hour. Sellers' accident on the back straight at lap 71 produced a red flag condition to clean up spilled fluid. A multi-car tangle in turn one eliminated John Salemi, Aaron Fike, and Patrick Dupree at lap 95, but no drivers were injured. Mike Johnson made contact with the inner front straight wall in the morning's final practice session but his crew carried out extensive repairs and he finished 14th on the lead lap. Of the 40 starters, 28 were running at the checker, with 20 on the lead lap.
The Busch East Series returns to the short tracks on Saturday, July 29 with the Edge Hotel 150 at Adirondack International Speedway in Beaver Falls, N.Y.