NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES TSI Harley Davidson 150 - Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford Springs, Conn., Friday, June 16, 2006 POST-RACES NOTES BACK-TO-BACK: It hasn't taken Sean Caisse long to start setting Busch East...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES
TSI Harley Davidson 150 - Stafford Motor Speedway
Stafford Springs, Conn., Friday, June 16, 2006
BACK-TO-BACK: It hasn't taken Sean Caisse long to start setting Busch East Series records. After just two starts for Andy Santerre Motorsports, he claims the distinction of being the first driver in the series' 20 year history, going back to its founding as the Busch North Series in 1987, to win the first two races of a season. Not Andy Santerre, not Brad Leighton, not Dave Dion, not Kelly Moore, not Mike Stefanik nor Dick McCabe nor Jamie Aube nor even Ricky Craven has ever gone to victory lane in the opener and backed it up with a win in race number two. Two of those greats have come close in recent years: Santerre won three of the first four in 2003, and Leighton won the second and third races of 2004. But Caisse stands alone in going back-to-back in his first two times at the plate.
The winner of the season opener has gone on to claim the title six times, three of them by Caisse's car owner and crew chief. Santerre won on opening day in 2002, 2003, and 2004. The others are Aube (1990), Dion (1996), and Leighton (1999).
The series record for consecutive victories is four, set by Ricky Craven during a mid-summer hot streak in 1991. The closest anyone has come since that time is Tracy Gordon's three in a row in 2000. Gordon, by the way, is scheduled to make his 2006 debut in Fred Skaff's Archer Corp./The Woodworks Ford Taurus at Holland International Speedway's Fuccillo Auto Park HUGE 150 this Saturday night, June 24.
SWAPPING THE LEAD: The fans saw seven lead changes among four drivers at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, and eight lead changes between Sean Caisse and Matt Kobyluck at Stafford. That's 15 lead changes in two races, reflecting both the effect of the double-file restart adopted in mid-2005, and the competitiveness of the leading teams in the 2006 Busch East Series field.,
CONSISTENCY: Aside from Sean Caisse, there have been several drivers who have kept the momentum going through the first two races of 2005, and that is reflected by the point standings. Matt Kobyluck and Mike Olsen have stayed in the top five at both tracks, allowing them to keep Caisse in sight. Bryon Chew, Charles Lewandoski, and Jeff Anton each have a pair of top-10's, and they sit fourth, fifth, and seventh on the chart. Jody Lavender (sixth) and Kip Stockwell (eighth) are close to keeping their top-10 clean sheets- Lavender was eleventh at Greenville-Pickens and Stockwell eleventh at Stafford. Also playing "Mr. Consistency" is Dion Ciccarelli, who has been the highest finishing registered Sunoco Rookie in both races.
Unfortunately, Jamie Aube has been consistent in the wrong way. The three-time champion has been no better than 27th in either race, sustaining race-ending damage in early accidents at both events.
DION DEBUTS: The Dion Brothers Racing team made its 2006 debut at Stafford, having passed on the trip to South Carolina. It's not that they never travel. Dave Dion's autobiography details the family team's 1978 attempt to run the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup (then Winston Cup) Series which didn't have a race north of Pocono.
The familiar orange rig arrived at Stafford with both crew and fans remembering last August, when Dave wound up in the third turn wall through no fault of his own, seriously damaging his favorite short track chassis, which has served him well since 1990. The 2006 season didn't start much better, as Dion backed into the first turn barrier during practice. Fortunately the damage could be repaired in traditional Dion style, with hard work and racer's tape. Dave qualified tenth and was charging at the finish, moving from sixth to fourth on the final restart. He was the highest-placed driver who pitted during the race. It was his best result at Stafford since a third in 2000.
AWARDS EXPLAINED: Three special awards are contested at each Busch East Series race and listed at the bottom of the box score. The Busch Pole needs no explanation, other than to note that if qualifying is rained out, the award is not made.
The POWERade Power Move of the Race award and the Featherlite Most Improved Driver award are sometimes confused because they both deal with improved performance. Here's the difference:
The POWERade Power Move of the Race award, worth $1,000, is earned by the driver who improves the most positions from start to finish of that race. The same type of award is sometimes called a "hard charger" at NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series tracks. Take all the drivers' qualifying positions, subtract their finishing positions, and the largest positive number wins. If there's a tie, the highest finisher gets the award. That happened at Stafford, where Ryan Seaman and Joey McCarthy both gained 15 spots, but Seaman was seventh and McCarthy eighth at the checker. If a driver goes to the back of the field, either by the rulebook or voluntarily, it doesn't change the math for calculating the POWERade award. Their qualifying position is the one that counts.
The Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award, worth $300, rewards the driver who improves the most from their finishing position in the last Busch East Series race. If a driver does not enter a race, they're not eligible for the Featherlite award at the next race. If nothing goes right this week, the Featherlite award is an achievable goal for the next race. That's about the only consolation Brian Hoar can take from Stafford. Already using a back-up car, Hoar never took the green flag after his engine showed no oil pressure while driving out for driver introductions.
Finally, a trick for keeping the awards straight. The title, POWERade Power Move of the Race, includes the word "race" and it's the award that deals only with one race.
MILESTONES: Best career finishes were recorded at Stafford by Lavender, in only his second start, and Lewandoski... Lewandoski (7th), three-time Stafford late model champion Ryan Posocco (13th), and Rob Humphreys (21st) had their best career qualifying runs... Posocco also finished fourth in Friday's late model feature... Consecutive race streaks are now at 177 for Mike Olsen and 119 for Kip Stockwell... Media historian Rick DeBour pointed out that the TSI Harley-Davidson 150 was probably the first Busch North/Busch East race ever run without a single driver in the field listing a hometown in the state of Maine.