New Spec Motor Gives Caisse Fourth Pole of Season; Finishes Sixth ASM Team Salvages Points In Tough Night at Tight Track CONCORD, NC (August 21, 2006) -- The Andy Santerre Motorsports team has had a target on their collective backs all ...
New Spec Motor Gives Caisse Fourth Pole of Season; Finishes Sixth
ASM Team Salvages Points In Tough Night at Tight Track
CONCORD, NC (August 21, 2006) -- The Andy Santerre Motorsports team has had a target on their collective backs all season long. Part of that was because Santerre himself had won four-straight NASCAR Busch East (formerly Busch North) Series championships. Another reason was because highly-touted, 20-year-old Sean Caisse would be taking over the driving duties in the Casella-sponsored #44 machine after Santerre moved from the cockpit to the owner and crew chief role this season. Then, as the season has gone along, Andy Santerre Motorsports has cleaned house, winning three races (Greenville, Stafford and Adirondack) and three poles (Stafford, Holland and Thompson).
There was another reason that the entire Busch East field had their eyes glued on the #44 machine on Saturday night at Waterford Speedbowl. Andy Santerre Motorsports was the first team to run NASCAR's new spec motor in the Big Y Supermarkets 150 at Waterford. The motor that had been in development for months was going to see its first race action, and right off the bat Caisse reaped the new engine's benefits, winning his fourth pole of 2006.
Caisse was in good position to take win number-four of the year as well, before an incident around halfway cost him his shot. Still, Caisse was able to rebound to finish sixth with the new NASCAR spec motor despite some severe rear-end damage, keeping himself and the ASM team close to the points lead headed into the final three events of the 2006 season.
"When we started out, we were probably about a 10th-place car when we first got on the racetrack," said Caisse. "That was more because of me as the driver than anything else. Usually I'm pretty aggressive getting into the corner, and I've learned that you can't do that with this motor. The sooner you can get on the gas and get to that power band, the bigger the advantage.
"I wasn't confident about it, but I knew that we were going to have a pretty good car for the race, because we were just as good as anybody on old tires. We put new tires on, but we never did a qualifying run in practice, and that's probably why we weren't higher on the chart. We went out for qualifying and got the pole with a new track record. That was pretty cool. It's neat that a motor like that can be affordable and be powerful and be competitive."
The new motor flexed its muscle in the early stages of the 150-lap event at Waterford as well. Caisse checked out to an early lead, but eventually was passed for the top spot on a lap-30 restart. Like he has done all season long, Caisse patiently waited for his opportunity to pounce and found it about 20 laps later.
With Matt Kobyluck on his inside on a restart, Caisse got in the gas at the drop of the green flag, hoping to capitalize on the restart. Instead, he found himself in the wall.
"I was on the outside of Kobyluck. We had a good restart this time, since on the last restart he ran me up into the wall. We were side-by-side when we got to the start-finish line. We went into turns one and two and got run up the racetrack. He claimed that I hit him in the right rear. I don't see how that could happen when we were side-by-side. We made contact in the center of one and two and he was way down at the bottom of the track and I was up high. All of a sudden he just started running me out of room.
"You can clearly see on the video tape his nose wiggled at the top of the racetrack right when we were getting close to the wall. He just ran me right up into the fence. It was kind of an accordion effect. Once I hit the wall and he was right there, it bounced off and it hit pretty hard."
The incident brought out the yellow flag, and Caisse hit pit road to the attention of the ASM crew. Repairs were made and Caisse remained on the lead lap. He fought his way all the way back up to sixth at the drop of the checkers.
"It was a real feather in the caps of this team to be able to finish where we did. After that incident, we came in and changed tires and used a lot of duct tape, but we were able to stay on the lead lap. We got everything together and nothing fell off the car, so the crew did a great job. We ended up battling back up to the front, finishing sixth. Not bad for a car that has a bent rear clip."
With the sixth-place finish under wraps, Caisse now trails championship leader Mike Olsen, who finished fifth at Waterford, by 44 points as the BES heads to New Hampshire International Speedway September 16th. The Sylvania 125 at NHIS will be the Andy Santerre Motorsports team's second venture with the new spec motor inside the #44 Casella Chevrolet.
"I don't think that the motor had quite an advantage at Waterford, but I think it's going to be great at Loudon and possibly at Dover," said Caisse. "The motor is stout; I really like it. I think that at NHIS this motor is really going to show itself. It's making more horsepower and more rpm. We could've easily showed up with our regular stuff and run just as well with that at Waterford.
"We're actually taking a gamble by running this motor, but we wouldn't put it in our car at this point if we didn't think that it could get the job done. We have some confidence in it, and I think it'll be a very good motor that can save people some money down the road."
Team owner Andy Santerre was equally happy as his driver about the performance of the new spec motor at Waterford.
"This motor is going to be good for our series not only financially but because it's just as competitive as the current motors," said Santerre. "We broke the track record and sat on the pole, so it can't be that bad. Sean liked it. It took a little getting used to, because it drives different than the other ones. It doesn't decelerate much, so you really have to back your corner up.
"Once Sean got used to it, he got faster and faster. The motor ran real good all night, and I think it'll be a good motor at Loudon. Sean ran a real good race; it's a shame that we had to get torn up like that but we came out with sixth and we'll be back at Loudon to win the thing."