Santerre Soon to Be Back On Track in the MONRO ...
Santerre Soon to Be Back On Track in the MONRO #47; Sadler's Saturday at Charlotte Ends Early
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, full-time driver of the #47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the NASCAR Busch Series, has been cleared by his doctor to test and get back in the car at Dover Downs International Speedway for the MBNA Platinum 200 on June 5, 1999.
Santerre, the 1998 Raybestos "Rookie of the Year," was injured in a lap-24 incident at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 1999 in the season opening Napa Auto Parts 300. He suffered a broken right leg with five fractures on the tibial plateau (area below the knee cap) and one fracture on his fibula (small bone on the outside of the lower leg). He underwent surgery on February 15, 1999 at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to repair the fractures with three plates and over 18 screws.
Santerre has been convalescing at home for the past three months and is eagerly anticipating getting back in the MONRO Muffler #47 this weekend at Dover Downs.
"It has been a long recovery period," Santerre admitted. "At first the doctor's said six to eight weeks, I thought that isn't so bad, but that time frame was just to put weight on my leg. I spent an additional four to six weeks trying to build my muscle tone back up and learning to walk again." Santerre, who still walks with a slight limp, is confident he will be back 100% soon.
"The doctor's tell me that my limp will eventually go away," Santerre explained. "I have a lot of swelling in my knee, the swelling will not go away until I rebuild the muscle, which, I am in the process of doing right now." Santerre continues, "I spend three days a week, three hours a day in therapy and have been doing so since four weeks after the surgery. It has taken a while, but I am gaining every day. I am only eight pounds short of my pre-accident weight and I am building back my stamina slowly but surely." Santerre knows Dover is a physical track and that it isn't called the Monster Mile for nothing, but he likes the track and is confident he can race well there.
" I have had a few people ask me why I want to come back at Dover," Santerre confided. "But, I like the track and even though our finishes there have not shown it, I run well there." Santerre continued, "I am not going to just show up, get in the race car and hope I can last the race though. I plan to test this week and make my determination from that test if I am physically able to go the distance at Dover."
"As far as I am concerned, the bone is healed," concluded Dr. David Martin, Associate0 Professor of Sports Medicine and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "As far as the broken bone is concerned, it is as strong as his other bones, even stronger with the additional reinforcement. However, there is still swelling and soreness and I can not judge Andy's abilities, his muscle strength or stamina, only Andy Santerre can do that. I think he should test and base any decisions on returning on how he feels after the test. Fixing the bone is the easy part, getting back to 100% is the tough part."
Santerre and the MONRO Racing crew will test on Tuesday, June 1, 1999. An evaluation of the test and how Santerre feels will determine when he returns.
"Right now we want to make sure Andy Santerre can go the distance," Mike Greci, the crew chief, confirmed. "We want to run him 100 or 150 laps straight and see how he does and how his leg holds up. We are not concerned with whether Andy can mentally handle the race, he is a driver and we know he is mentally prepared, we are concerned whether or not his leg can last the full 200 laps at a track as grueling as Dover."
"Right now I plan to race at Dover," Santerre confirmed. "The only way I will not be in the driver's seat is if something happens in the test session that I feel will prevent me from giving the team 100%. I am so proud of this team and how they have improved this year, it would not be fair to them for me to rush back. Elliott Sadler has done a great job for the team and he is available at Dover if we need him."
Sadler, a current Winston Cup Series "Rookie of the Year" contender, has been the team's interim driver since Las Vegas, the third race of the season. He has done a great job for the team, and has earned the team one top-five and two top-10 finishes during his 10-race tenure.
Last weekend, Sadler was on track for another top-10 after qualifying 8th for the Car Quest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte and racing in the top-10 the majority of the day. At lap 161, while racing in 9th position, Sadler lost control exiting turn two. The crew believe a tire went down causing the loss of control.
I spoke to Elliott and he isn't sure what happened," Mike Greci related. "He said it just came out from underneath him. By the time we got the car back to the garage area, the rear tire was flat. I think it may have been going down when he crashed. Two other cars, the #93 (Dave Blaney) and the #34 (Mike Mclaughlin), had similar problems." Greci adds, "The car was good all day. We never made one chassis adjustment and we raced from 18th to 5th under green-flag conditions."
"I've had a great time driving the MONRO Chevy," Sadler confirmed. "This is a great team with great racecars. They have a lot of talent and I am confident you will see good things from them in the near future."
Sadler will be standing by in the event that Santerre does not feel he is ready to make his debut at Dover.