Santerre Casualty of Car Count Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the ...
Santerre Casualty of Car Count
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the #47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the NASCAR Busch North Series, failed to qualify for the NAPA 300 at Michigan Speedway on Saturday, August 21, 1999.
Santerre, the 1998 Busch Series Raybestos "Rookie of the Year," headed to his first super speedway event since his accident in the season-opening NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway where he broke his right leg in six places. Rain delayed and eventually shortened the scheduled practice sessions for the Busch Series and Santerre ended up with only 18 laps on the track before he attempted to qualify against 59 other cars, 23 of which were more experienced Winston Cup drivers.
The MONRO Racing team brought the speedway car that finished 5th at California so they were confident they had a competitive car. However, tires proved to be the problem for the #47 crew the entire weekend.
"Goodyear put out a new tire for this weekend," Santerre, a previous Busch Series winner, explained. "It had a different side wall and had camber built in. It proved to be a good tire to race on, but it gave me a different feeling that was real hard to get comfortable with." Santerre continues, "It changed the car set-up as well. We had a real good base line to come here with but the tires didn't like it. We threw a lot of things at the car over the weekend and we just couldn't get a combination that worked or that had the speed we needed."
Santerre and the MONRO Racing team weren't the only Busch Series regulars struggling. In first round qualifying, only 10 of the top-25 were Busch Series regulars. In second round qualifying, five of the drivers were Busch Series regulars. Six provisionals were assigned and went to six Busch Series regulars that were all in the top-12 in points. The 13th and 14th place drivers on the circuit were sent home, as were 14 other Busch Series cars.
"I was struggling to find speed enough to make the race," Santerre, a Cherryfield, Maine native, admitted. "So it was my decisions to put Ricky Craven in the car. The crew worked real hard and we have great sponsors in MONRO Muffler, Speedy, Dynomax, Kendall, LLUMAR Window Films, and Peterbilt Carolina and they deserved to be in the race. I felt maybe Ricky had a better shot at getting in the race than I did with notmuch practice time or experience on the track. It wasn't an easy decision, but I felt it was in the best interest of the team and the sponsors at that point and time. Santerre adds, "I am not giving up nor am I stepping aside. It was a one-time deal to put Ricky in and I thank him for doing the best he could for us."
Santerre and the team were not fast enough to make the starting field and they were forced to pack up and make the long trek home along with 17 other teams.
"There is a great controversy over Winston Cup drivers in the Busch Series," Santerre commented. "I have a mixed opinion. I enjoy racing against them and learning from them and I believe it is beneficial to have them compete, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. Twenty Winston Cup drivers in a Busch race is overkill. How can we, and other young teams, gain experience to compete against them and be competitive when we can't even make the race to gain the needed experience." Santerre continues, "I believe 15 Busch Series drivers were sent home, 11 of which race every week and have full-time sponsors to answer to and every one of them would have loved the chance to compete with and against a limited number of Cup drivers."
Not a team to give up easily, the MONRO Racing team will regroup this week and battle back at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, August 27, 1999 in the Food City 250.