Sean Caisse and ASM Back On Top With Thompson Triumph Dominating Performance for Casella ...
Sean Caisse and ASM Back On Top With Thompson Triumph
Dominating Performance for Casella #44; Earnhardt 14th at Thompson
CONCORD, NC (July 16, 2007) -- Twenty-one-year-old Sean Caisse is a competitor - there is no way around that fact. Even though he won a race earlier in the 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series season at Elko Speedway (MN), the return visit to victory lane could not come soon enough. Caisse and his Andy Santerre Motorsports teammates strive to win every time at the racetrack, so when the Casella Waste Systems number-44 machine had gone four races without a victory, Caisse ventured to Thompson International Speedway (CT) with an even greater fervor for getting back into the winner's circle.
That motivation and diligence paid off throughout the "Full Fender Frenzy" 100-lap event at Thompson, as the young driver set fast time in Busch Pole Qualifying and led all but two laps en route to his second victory of the season.
"It's really big for us because it's not just your performance at the racetrack when things go bad," said Caisse. "You have to take it back to the shop and that makes for long days and long weeks. I just wanted a good, solid top-five finish, but it sure feels good to win again. We got the pole here, but I've gotten the pole and lost a lot of races. That's why this win feels so great."
As Caisse's crew chief and team owner Andy Santerre pointed out, there have been plenty of opportunities for victory in recent races, even dating back to last year's Thompson event, but the luck had not always been on the Casella team's side.
"Last year, we had a track bar mount break and that cost us the win (at Thompson)," said Santerre. "We had a strong car then, too. We sat on the pole and led the first 13 laps before we broke. Then after Stafford this year, we were real concerned because we were breaking things that we've never broken before. We knew that when bad luck hits you, it stays around for a while.
"For 100 laps at Thompson, I was pulling my hair out," added Santerre. "The guys all did a great job and the car stayed together and Sean did an awesome job driving it. It was a pretty dominant car, but the only concern we had was the restarts because of the big bump in turn one. Every time Sean would get pinched down on the restart and they went through that bump, he'd have to chase the car up the track. We knew if we could get through that bump and get into turn two, then we'd get back out into the lead again."
Caisse bounced back after being down on the speed charts early in practice, but some mid-day changes made the number-44 machine come to life in Busch Pole Qualifying.
"We were 14th in that first practice session and my car was junk," said Caisse. "We just kept working on it and working on it, and we never gave up. We got the car to where I liked it and we got the pole.
"We knew from last year what the track did at night -- which I think was an advantage (in the race). I knew it was going to tighten up so we made some adjustments to compensate for the weather changes and we knew we were going to have a great car. The competition level at where it's at, it's really impressive for my team to give me a car that dominant."
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Development Driver Jeffrey Earnhardt finished an impressive 14th in an ASM-prepared number-1 machine at Thompson, a track that the young driver had never been to before.
"Thompson's been one of our better racetracks, especially for Sean," said Santerre. "Jeffrey had never even seen the place before, though. We knew it may be a little different for him, but when we got there we gave Jeffrey a setup we knew would work because we've run it several times. That way, we could get him comfortable without worrying about the car, and it paid off with a good run for him."
The solid result for ASM at Thompson will carry both teams to Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, July 22nd, when the NASCAR Busch East Series makes its debut at Music City Motorplex. Earnhardt tested at Music City earlier this season and Caisse made the trip with him. Because the Nashville track is a faster version of a track both drivers saw success at last weekend, team ASM has plenty of momentum on their side.
"Nashville is a pretty cool track. A lot of people are comparing it to Thompson, but I kind of disagree with that in a way," said Caisse. "The size is about the same at Thompson, but Jeffrey ran about a second quicker there than at Thompson because of the shorter straightaways and higher banking. You can get the power to the ground a lot better at Nashville. Overall, it's a little bit bumpy. There's a huge bump coming out of turn two on the bottom. Other than that, it's a great looking facility. It'll be a great place for the fans to come to a race."