BNS: Lee USA: Season opener race notes

Andy Santeere opens Busch North title defense with Freedom 150 win at Lee USA Speedway; Moore second; McCarthy career-best third; Andrews top Rookie. LEE, N.H. -- Defending champion Andy Santerre won Sunday afternoon's Freedom 150 at Lee USA ...

Andy Santeere opens Busch North title defense with Freedom 150 win at Lee USA Speedway; Moore second; McCarthy career-best third; Andrews top Rookie.

LEE, N.H. -- Defending champion Andy Santerre won Sunday afternoon's Freedom 150 at Lee USA Speedway, the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series opener for the 2003 season. Santerre moved from third to first in one move on lap 133 and took the checkered flag 3 car lengths in front of Kelly Moore. Joey McCarthy, who led 66 laps before Santerre's final charge, finished a career-best third without a pit stop ahead of Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race Tim Andrews and returning former champion Mike Stefanik. Santerre also won the Bud Pole Award to complete a sweep of the weekend. It was his second straight win at Lee USA's demanding 3/8 mile oval.

Front-row starters Santerre and Moore swapped the lead three times in the first 66 laps, twice running side-by-side for several laps. When all but four lead-lap cars pitted for right side tires under caution, McCarthy moved in front and showed every intention of staying there, with teammate Andrews in second. Kelly Moore inherited third on lap 105 when his son, Raybestos Rookie contender Ryan Moore, made his stop. Soon the senior Moore and Santerre passed Andrews, and a classic Lee USA battle pitting McCarthy's track position against Moore's newer tires played out, with Santerre riding a close third.

With less than 20 laps to go, Moore committed to the high side trying to wrest the lead from McCarthy, opening the bottom for Santerre who passed both cars in front of him, with Moore switching to the low groove to preserve second place. A late caution set up a seven-lap run to the checkered flag in which Santerre made no mistakes to claim his 14th career Busch North Series win.

Santerre averaged 49.402 miles per hour as nine caution periods slowed the action for 62 laps. The red flag was displayed on lap 118 after Bill Penfold crashed hard in turn 4. Penfold walked away from the head-on impact.

Santerre won his 15th career Bud Pole at a non-record 15.673 seconds or 86.124 miles per hour. The first Powerade Power Move of the Race Award went to Paul Wolfe for his nine-place improvement from 16th at the start to seventh at the finish. Of 22 cars running at the finish, 15 were on the lead lap.

The Busch North Series continues Friday, May 9, with the New England Dodge Dealers 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Conn.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Paul Wolfe , Ryan Moore