NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES NEWS & NOTES * Greenville-Pickens a classic venue for NASCAR Busch East Series opener * Greased Lightning 150 entries rise to 35; includes 11 rookies * ...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES NEWS & NOTES
* Greenville-Pickens a classic venue for NASCAR Busch East Series opener
* Greased Lightning 150 entries rise to 35; includes 11 rookies
* Greenville-Pickens' barometer could forecast points contenders
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Apr. 19, 2007) -- NASCAR racing at South Carolina's Greenville-Pickens Speedway is a classic combination that permeates the half-mile paved oval with an air of history.
A new chapter unfolds at the Pickens County, S.C. with the 2007 season opening NASCAR Busch East Series event, the Greased Lightning 150, on Saturday, April 28. The 150-lap, 75-mile, $122,192 event will also be telecast on SPEED, and air as part of the network's Racing Across America series.
Greenville-Pickens Speedway is simply a southern sanctuary of speed. It's been that way since 1946 when, a year before he founded NASCAR, Bill France, Sr. promoted the first stock car race on the original half-mile clay horse track.
Tom Blackwell, now 78, and his late brother, Pete, bought the facility in 1955. They preserved and built on the track's reputation, and were lifelong friends with France and NASCAR. In the process the place evolved into a short-track shrine. The painting of names of each season's featured division track champions on the whitewashed retaining wall helped build the legend. The list included names like Ralph Earnhardt, David Pearson and Butch Lindley. Their mark now stands as silent sentinels on the wall as testimony to tradition. "Ironman" Jack Ingram the first NASCAR Busch Grand National Series event there in 1983, and Lindley won the last there later that same year.
When the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series premiered at the track in 2006, the event had all the makings of becoming something special.
Throw in a marquee NASCAR series with a throw-back name and the savvy fans turned out early to get their favorite seats to see another chapter in Greenville-Pickens history unfold before their eyes. The series' South Carolina debut drama featured young Sean Caisse topping a closing laps multi-car battle for the win.
"Last year's inaugural NASCAR Busch East Series event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway featured three-wide racing in the turns, and a spectacular finish," said Keith Cochran, the track's marketing, sales and media director. "Because of the high quality of racing, our fans are eagerly awaiting the return of the series to South Carolina for the 'Greased Lightning 150' on April 28."
The event was thick in supporting plot-lines. Caisse was the 2005 NASCAR Busch East Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year. While he had not yet won, his talent was obvious. He was hired by car owner Andy Santerre when Santerre decided to step away from driving after four straight NASCAR Busch East titles. Caisse accepted Santerre's call, and all the pressure that came with it. The then 20-year-old stepped into a proven race winning, championship topping race car and team. He knew he was expected to win and contend for the title. He had to prove himself. He did it in his very first race with Santerre.
"I had tears in my eyes... I held my breath the last five laps," Caisse said in victory lane. "It's just an amazing feeling."
He was also quick to thank his new team owner:
"I won races before, but not in a long time," Caisse said. "Having Andy in my corner, he taught me a real good lesson. He taught me how to run that race. He told me to save my stuff and let those guys go. And because of that, we won."
Santerre seemed just as proud and excited as his driver as his driver after the race:
"I sat on the (pit) box for the first hundred laps, but if you noticed I was standing for the final 50 laps," Santerre said. "I was on my feet and pretty excited there at the end. I get just as excited to see someone like Sean win for the first time as I ever have being in Victory Lane myself."
Caisse's margin of victory was .268-second over Brian Hoar. The rest of the top five included eventual 2006 series champion Mike Olsen, 2006 NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown winner Matt Kobyluck, and Bryon Chew, who went on to score his first career series win three races later.
NEWS & NOTES
* Greenville-Pickens a good barometer: Weather forecasters can predict future weather by using a barometer. If a barometer registers high air pressure in a region, fair weather is predicted. Low air pressure in a region forecasts approaching storms. Last year's Greased Lightning 150 proved to an accurate barometer to predict the competitive pressure for the entire season. Check the numbers: The top five finishers in the inaugural NASCAR Busch East Series at Greenville-Pickens last year ended up as the top-five in the series final point standings at the end of the season. 2006 race finish: Caisse, Hoar, Olsen, Kobyluck and Chew. Final championship standings: Olsen, Caisse, Chew, Hoar, Kobyluck.
* Entry list continues to grow: More than a week before the event, 35 entries have been received for the 30 starting spots available in the April 28 Greased Lightning 150 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Of the 35, 11 of 12 registered rookies have entered, including the two newest joining the rookie ring, Todd Peck, 21 of Glenville, Pa., and Maxime "Max" Dumarey, 19, Gent, Belgium.
* Eastern eyes on Texas ... More than 40 cars are expected to make qualifying attempts for the AlphaTrade.com 150 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series race under the lights at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway Thursday night. The event will be telecast live in high definition on HDNet, and SPEED will provide an enhanced replay. Five drivers expected to compete in the NASCAR Busch East Series full-time in 2007 are taking the opportunity to enter the Phoenix event as their final "pre-season" tune-up. Among the eastern chargers are: Two 16-year-old drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing, Marc Davis (No. 92 Joe Gibbs Driven Chevrolet) -- who made his Grand National Division debut at Kyle, Texas, with a 12-place finish -- will be joined at PIR by teammate Joey Logano (No. 10 Joe Gibbs Driven Chevrolet); Tim Schendel (No. 43 Mathews Archery/Texpar Energy Dodge) is slated to make his NASCAR Grand National Division debut at Phoenix. Schendel was the 2006 champion in the NASCAR Elite Division, Midwest Series. He capped off his year by winning the Elite portion of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown; a member of the 2007 Drive for Diversity class will be making his NASCAR Grand National Division debut in the West Series race in Phoenix. Jesus Hernandez (No. 4 Ginn Racing Chevrolet) -- who originally hailed from Fresno, Calif. -- is in his third season with the Drive for Diversity program after competing the past two years in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series on the East Coast; and veteran NASCAR Busch East Series competitor Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Chevrolet) who will be making the cross country trek for his sixth appearance at Phoenix. He has finished third at PIR twice. Kobyluck hopes to open this year with the success he had in closing out last season with a win in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
* Competing for Showdown spot ... Race winners in the NASCAR Grand National Division this year will get an added bonus by gaining a starting spot in the 2007 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. With his victory in the season opener in Texas, Scott Lynch (No. 29 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Dodge) became the first driver this year to clinch a spot. Only Grand National race winners and champions of the NASCAR Developmental Series will be locked in to the field. All others must race their way into the event.