Waterford Speedbowl, Waterford, Conn., Sat., August 19, 2006 SPEC ENGINE DEBUT IS SPECIAL: The competition debut of the NASCAR Grand National Division "spec" engine was nothing short of sensational in the Big Y World Class Market 150 at...
Waterford Speedbowl, Waterford, Conn., Sat., August 19, 2006
SPEC ENGINE DEBUT IS SPECIAL: The competition debut of the NASCAR Grand National Division "spec" engine was nothing short of sensational in the Big Y World Class Market 150 at Waterford Speedbowl. Delivered to Andy Santerre Motorsports just in time to install before leaving their North Carolina shop for Connecticut, the engine proved both powerful and trouble free for driver Sean Caisse and the No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet. Caisse won his fourth Busch Pole Award of the season, setting a track record in the process, and battled for the lead until pitting with damage from contact with the guardrail with just under 100 laps remaining. Caisse was able to drive the damaged car from 14th up to fifth in 75 laps before losing one position in the closing stages to finish sixth.
Probably the most impressive aspect of the spec engine's debut was that it performed almost identically to the regular engine which had carried Caisse to three Busch Poles and three race wins in the first seven races of the season... at about half the cost.
HOME SWEET HOME: Matt Kobyluck's second straight win at his home track helped bury the painful memory of those two crashes into the Bowl's steel guardrail that ruined his chances in 2003 and 2004. He left no doubt in victory lane and in the media interview that winning at Waterford never loses its luster. But could anything top these two triumphs? Just one possibility came to the winner's mind- a victory at New Hampshire International Speedway, where his championship hopes have been destroyed the last two years. He gets that chance at NHIS September 16.
While most of the Busch East Series teams will leave their haulers at the shop until the NHIS event, the No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet team will head for California Speedway and the Labor Day weekend NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series event. Kobyluck led in his last west coast race, at Phoenix International Raceway last April, until engine trouble sent him to the pits.
REAL TOUGH: A few days before the Waterford event, Bryon Chew cut his right leg on an underwater obstacle near his Long Island home. The deep laceration required 13 medical staples to close. There was never a question about a relief driver at Waterford, which is one of Bryon's favorite tracks. Plus, the outside pits at Waterford would have made a driver change almost impossible without losing a lap.
The issue became moot as Chew drove an inspired race to second place, giving credence to the tongue-in-cheek comment of a crew member who predicted "He'll be fast because he can't bend his right leg. He just keeps his foot on the floor." In fact, Chew walked to the victory lane ceremonies after 150 grueling laps and climbed the steep steps to the pressbox as well.
It was Chew's second straight runner-up finish during the 2006 season and his second straight at Waterford, both of them behind Matt Kobyluck. He edged ahead of Brian Hoar for third in the point standings, although 176 markers behind Mike Olsen.
The No. 99 Buzz Chew Chevrolet team debuted a new sponsor ay Waterford - Elbow East, a Long Island steak house.
CLOSE ENOUGH TO PERFECT: Much has been said about Mike Olsen's increased competitiveness during the 2006 season, with two wins already in the book. But his trademark, consistency, has done its part to give the No. 61 Little Trees Chevrolet driver the point lead with three races to go. Waterford was Olsen's seventh top five in eight races and the only race out of top five, Thompson, was a sixth. It was the fifth race he has led, and he is the only driver to complete every lap of every race. In fact, a close look at the race logs for the first eight races fails to turn up a point where he wasn't running in a top-10 position, apart from pit stop cycles.
PAYOUT TIME: Since Waterford marked the two-thirds mark of the 2006 Busch East Series season, drivers in the top 20 of the current point standings will receive their share in the second $50,000 installment of the Busch East Series point fund. The majority of the point fund, along with all contingency money, will be paid at the series Awards Ceremony in December at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Conn., which ironically is less than 10 miles from Waterford Speedbowl.
Since the first installment of the point fund was paid in June, Brian Hoar has been the big gainer, moving from eighth to fourth on the strength of five straight top five finishes. The No. 45 Goss Dodge driver was as high as third before trading places with Bryon Chew at Waterford. He is the only driver in the top five who has not won a race and the only driver in the top six who has not led a lap.
Speaking of trading places, Hoar and Mike Olsen swapped positions in the Big Y World Class Market 150 at least seven times on the scoreboard, more than that on the track.
MILESTONES: Dion Ciccarelli (No. 84 Star Sales Ford) recorded his first career Busch East Series top 10 finish... Kip Stockwell's seventh was the best performance for the No. 16 Sabil & Sons/Randolph National Bank Chevrolet driver since he took fifth at Waterford in 2001... Mike Johnson (No. 96 Johnson Lumber Ford) has five top-5 finishes in seven Waterford starts... Sunoco Rookie contenders Patrick Dupree (No. 24 Outback Steak House Chevrolet) and Pierre Bourque (No. 10 Canada.com/Driving.ca Chevrolet) achieved career best finishes in 14th and 16th respectively... Mark Durgin (No. 41 Mannings USA Chevrolet) didn't get much time to enjoy his first start since 2003 as transmission trouble sent him to the sidelines after 11 laps for a 25th place finish. He qualified a solid 14th. Durgin is now a full-time NASCAR Busch Series crew chief.