ANDY SANTERRE ACCEPTS FOURTH CONSECUTIVE BUSCH NORTH SERIES TITLE, DECLARES HE WILL NOT SEEK NUMBER FIVE; SERIES NAME TO CHANGE FOR 2006
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (Dec. 17, 2005) -- Andy Santerre was honored with his fourth consecutive NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series championship trophy and NASCAR champion's ring Saturday night during the series' annual awards banquet at the Mohegan Sun Resort. In his acceptance, he stated that he will not seek to extend the streak in 2005 as he concentrates on his managerial responsibilities for the championship-winning Grizco Racing team.
During the evening it was also announced that the series will change its name to "NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series", reflecting the planned expansion of the series' geographic boundaries, which has taken place in recent years and is expected to continue in 2006 and future seasons.
Santerre became the series' first four-time champion, consecutive or otherwise, on the strength of two wins, 11 top-fives, and a perfect 13 top-tens. After joining Grizco in the role of team manager, he made the commitment to attempt the "tour for four" shortly before the season started, and went on to win the title by 42 points over teammate Mike Stefanik. His $87,000 share of the Busch North Series point fund brought his total money won for the season to over $191,000. To complete his evening's awards, he was named the Busch North Series Most Popular Driver for the fourth time.
In accepting his championship, Santerre recalled Mark Martin's remarks at the recent NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series banquet, saying "A career is not measured in the number of trophies collected or in how many awards you receive. A career is defined by the memories you make and the relationships you keep."
"I want to announce that there will be no 'drive for five' from me. I am going to take some time off from driving and hone my managerial skills at Grizco Racing," he continued, concluding "I have built relationships that will span a lifetime, not just a driving career. As I hang up my helmet, I know that I have had a successful driving career by anyone's standards, and that I am walking away on my terms. I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed possible."
Roger Tryon, crew chief for each of Santerre's four titles, also announced he is stepping down from his position with the Grizco team.
Steve and Peg Griswold, owners of Grizco Racing, won the car owners' championship for the third time overall, but the first time since 2000. They are the first owners ever to claim first and second places in the same year. Second place driver Mike Stefanik paid tribute to the Griswolds in his remarks, reminding the audience "They took their dream for a multi-car team and made it a reality .They moved Grizco Racing to Charlotte, North Carolina, hired Andy Santerre, and reactivated (team driver) Brad Leighton. Then they put us all in a beautiful facility, not at all what I was thinking last September."
Matt Kobyluck finished third in points and led the series in race victories. "Winning four times in one year was phenomenal, and winning at Adirondack where we proudly carried the logo of my cousin's battalion at Fort Drum was an incredible moment. Also the win at Waterford was a great homecoming. I turned my first lap in a race car there," he recounted, adding "I will look back at this year as having some of the most incredible times." Kobyluck also carried off the Busch Pole Award and Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award.
John Salemi was a double award winner, taking home the POWERade Power Move of the Race Award and the Driver Achievement Award. Sean Caisse received his official recognition as Sunoco Rookie of the Year, and the Sportsmanship Award was shared by the Buzz Chew Motorsports and Little Trees Racing teams. Veteran race official Billy Ryder, the Busch North official starter for many years and currently a technical inspector, was named recipient of the Bunk Sampson Memorial Award, and the Busch North Series Auxiliary Recognition Award was presented to Lori Kobyluck.
The series will observe its 20th consecutive year under the sponsorship of Anheuser-Busch Inc. in 2006.