Rookie Sean Caisse will start his first ARCA RE/MAX Series race from the pole position after tearing off a top 178.365-mph (30.275 seconds) lap at Kentucky Speedway this afternoon.

Caisse will hold the top spot in the 41-car "Drive Smart! Buckle-Up Kentucky 150" field when drivers take the green flag at 8:00 p.m.

The 22-year-old driver originally from Pelham, N.Y., finished second to Joe Gibbs Racing rising star Joey Logano in the 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series standings and is racing for former IndyCar and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Shigeaki Hattori. The team qualified for its second race of the season this afternoon.

Caisse closed out the series practice session sixth on the grid after turning his fastest lap at 177.107 mph (30.490 seconds).

"I've never seen this place, but I watched a couple videos of past NASCAR Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series races here. I've never been on a mile-and-a-half except earlier this week when we went to Rockingham to shake this car down. Basically, it's a brand new car. Germain (Racing) went through it, put their special stuff in it and I was comfortable with the car right away.

"I knew we had a car that could sit on the pole. That's a bonus, but I'm more concerned to that we have a good car in race trim. I'm focused on winning this race. It's only 100 laps, 150-miles, so it should go quick. Hopefully, people respect each other. I haven't raced with any of these guys so I have to learn who I can race with and who I can't. I have to earn the respect of the veterans and the other rookies in this race because I'm not running for points," Caisse said.

Robb Brent, third in practice, will join Caisse on the front row after turning his best of two qualifying laps at 177.591 mph (30.407 seconds) in the No. 00 Orchard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Chevrolet.

"We had a good set-up because we brought the same car we had in Kansas where we ran so good (fifth). We really didn't do much to it today in practice. The tracks are pretty similar, that's why we were faster out of the box. The car was pretty good to go out and qualify the way it was. We almost ran as fast as those guys in race trim. We have a great racecar and should be able to race to the front and be back where we belong," Brent said.

Jesse Smith, quickest in practice with a 178.731-mph (30.213 seconds) lap that matched the standing series qualifying record set last July by Erin Crocker, will start third after posting a 177.200-mph (30.474 seconds) lap in the No. 30 Lloyd's Barbeque Spam Hormel Jones Group Dodge.

"We're not too disappointed with it (the run); it gives us a good starting position for tonight's race. We should be able to go out there, be up front and hopefully lead when it counts on the last lap. We can't change too much. We'll make it a little bit looser because we were tight there, but we feel like the car is pretty good. It wasn't the best there for one lap, but we feel like it'll be good 10 laps into the race," Smith said.

He will share the second row with Michael Annett, who turned a 177.136-mph (30.485 seconds) lap. Annett was second in the today's practice session with a fast 177.819-mph (30.368 second) lap.

Canadian-born Ryan Fischer rounded out the top five qualifiers with a 177.003-mph (30.508 seconds) lap in his No. 25 Chevrolet. He will share the third row Tayler Malsam who charted a 176.396-mph (30.948 seconds) lap in the No. 4 Dodge Development Program Dodge. Malsam broke into the top 10 in the series standings following his 14th-place finish in Rockingham, N.C., last Sunday. He will start tonight's "Drive Smart! Buckle-Up Kentucky 150" ninth in the series standings and 265 points behind Carter.

Nine-time and defending series champion Frank Kimmel qualified 11th with a 174.610-mph (30.926 seconds) lap in his No. 44 Ford Drive One Ford. He will start tonight's race ranked second in the series standings and 35 points behind leader Matt Carter, who qualified 16th with a 173.745-mph (31.080 seconds) lap in the No. 46 Stine Seed Ft. Dodge Animal Health Pork Ford. Kimmel will make a bid to become the second five-time race winner in Kentucky Speedway history.

Tickets for tonight's "Drive Smart! Buckle-Up Kentucky 150" will be on sale at the speedway main entrance until the 8:00 p.m. race start.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~