BNS: Stafford III: Andy Santerre race notes

Andy Santerre clinches second consecutive Busch North championship. Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre may not have won the battle, - he finished 3rd in the twice rain-delayed CarQuest Auto Parts Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway on...

Andy Santerre clinches second consecutive Busch North championship.

Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre may not have won the battle, - he finished 3rd in the twice rain-delayed CarQuest Auto Parts Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway on Sunday, October 5, 2003- but he won the war - clinching his second straight NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Championship.

"I couldn't be happier," the 35 year-old Santerre admitted. "The championship is what this race team has worked so hard for all season, this was our ultimate goal."

Santerre, a Cherryfield, Maine native, lead the point battle since a win in the season- opening event at Lee USA Speedway. The next three races saw two more wins at Lake Erie Speedway and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and a second place finish at Stafford Motor Speedway. Santerre was off to his best career season start and the most successful start to a season in the 15-year history of the NASCAR Busch North Series.

"We've had a stellar year," Santerre expressed after climbing from his car. "Man, this is everything we wanted, all we've worked for." Santerre continues, "I came back to the Busch North because I knew I could win a championship and I felt I left things unfinished up here. We won the Championship in 2002 and I feel we earned it, but it wasn't a dominating season. I feel much more confident in my Championship the second time around."

Santerre's dream season was not without some hard luck though. In mid season, he saw a 173 point lead dwindle to a mere 11 points over former Busch North Series Champion, Kelly Moore after two sub-par races - a 19th at Waterford Speedbowl and a 24th at Seekonk Speedway.

"It was a hard couple of races in the middle of the season," Santerre confirmed. "We had some bad luck and the competitors we were battling for the Championship had some good luck." Santerre adds, "I really believe those two bad races made us open our eyes and work that much harder to build that lead back up. We kept our nose to the grindstone and our eye on the big picture. We knew we were capable, we just had to prove it to ourselves and the racing community."

Santerre knew 2003 would be his best opportunity in racing to date. At the end of 2002 he sold his cars and equipment to Joe and Nancy Bessey and signed on to drive the #6 Aubuchon Hardware/Brickmill Marketing Services Chevrolet for Bessey Motorsports. Santerre was free from all the team ownership responsibilities and was able to hire additional employees to help back at the shop. All Santerre had to worry about was working on the cars at the race shop and driving them at the race track.

"I've told anyone and everyone that would listen to me, that this is the best deal I have ever had in racing," Santerre said. "Joe and Nancy are racers themselves and they know the business. They understand what it takes to be successful and gave me every opportunity to earn this second championship. I can't thank them enough. They are not only great owners and employers, they are great friends and this never would have happened without them."

Santerre joins Jamie Aube, Dick McCabe, Mike Stefanik and Brad Leighton as the Busch North Series' only multiple year Champions.

"A NASCAR Championship is a dream come true to every racer, but to have been able to win back to back Championships in such a competitive series is unbelievable to me."

"I couldn't be happier for our sponsors, Aubuchon Hardware, Brickmill Marketing Services and Castle Chemical. They have been nothing but supportive this entire season. I am proud to be associated with these companies and the people who own, manage and work for them."

"We have a lot of other sponsors that have helped us achieve this goal this year and I would be remiss if I didn't mention then and thank them for their support - Team EJP, Fisher Snowplows and Pottle's Transportation."

-jbm/as-

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