NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH NORTH SERIES POST-RACE NOTES New England Dodge Dealers Twin 100, Thompson Intl Speedway, Sunday, October 30, 2005 Andy Santerre has won four straight Busch North Series championships. How remarkable is...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH NORTH SERIES POST-RACE NOTES
New England Dodge Dealers Twin 100, Thompson Intl Speedway, Sunday, October 30, 2005
Andy Santerre has won four straight Busch North Series championships. How remarkable is that? Well, no one has ever won four straight NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championships. Nor has anyone taken four straight NASCAR Busch Series or NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series titles. It's been done just twice in the history of all current NASCAR touring series: first by Ray Elder in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series from 1969 to 1972, and then by Steve Carlson in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series from 2000 to 2003. In fact, both those series changed their name during the four-year run, so Santerre is the first to win four straight titles under the same banner.
Richie Evans won eight consecutive NASCAR Modified Division crowns from 1978 to 1985, but only the last of those was under a touring series format.
While the series' identity has remained a constant, Santerre's racing operation has undergone two major changes during his title run. In 2002, he was a pure independent, working alone in the shop and towing his car from North Carolina to New England himself. His championship margin over Matt Kobyluck was only nine points. In 2003 and 2004, he was a hired driver for Joe Bessey, himself a former Busch North Series championship runner-up, and the team enjoyed the sponsorship of Aubuchon Hardware stores. Both titles were won by over 200 points.
For 2005, Santerre accepted the job as team manager for Grizco Racing, with his own driving a second priority to the preparation of a two car team all season, which swelled to a three-car team in six races where Brad Leighton joined Andy and Mike Stefanik. Yet again he won, beating his own teammate by 42 points.
What does the future hold? For years Andy has suggested he might be ready to step into the role of fulltime team manager. Yet when he bounded from the car at Thompson, stood on the window sill and raised both hands in triumph with four fingers extended, he didn't look at all like a man ready to lean on the tool box.
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While the 2005 season belonged to Andy Santerre, the season finale at Thompson belonged to Eddie MacDonald, Jerry Morello, and Rollie Lachance in a big way. Eddie Mac led all but eight laps and dismissed every challenger with ease. MacDonald, of course, was a member of the vintage rookie class of 2001 which also produced Brian Hoar and Joey McCarthy. His small team, with crew chief Mark Durgin and a Jason Janvrin chassis handed down from Paul Richardson, scored a memorable upset win at Beech Ridge in 2002. Then Durgin tried his hand at driving and Eddie teamed with Chris Raymond, who brought Ford rolling stock from his former employer, the Bryan Wall team. For two years they showed a ton of promise, but no victories.
Meanwhile, Epping, N.H. businessman Jerry Morello had run Durgin's car in 2003 and brought Jamie Aube back to Busch North Series full-time in 2004. Both had their moments in the sun, but for 2005 Morello made the big upgrade with MacDonald turning the wheel and Lachance, a veteran of many successes with Tracy Gordon and Ryan Moore, twisting the wrenches. It was a roller coaster season- in the first 12 races they were in the top ten six times and 20th or worse five times- but it ended on the highest possible note at Thompson, moving them into the top ten of the final standings.
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CORRECTIONS: After the unofficial finish was released Sunday night, a scoring review found Rogelio Lopez should be scored in 20th place rather than 14th on the lead lap as originally posted. Six drivers- Dale Shaw, Ryan Seaman, John Salemi, Bryon Chew, Mike Johnson, and Jeff Anton each move up one place as a result and gain three points in the final standings, but none of the top 20 positions which share in the Busch North Series point fund change as a result.
Two other typos were discovered in the unofficial finish as well. Ryan Moore's point total did not reflect his 25-point penalty, and Don Wagner's money won was incorrect. The revised official race report is attached reflecting these corrections.
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Milestones.... Mike Stefanik ran every lap of the season, while Andy Santerre missed only one... Brad Leighton failed to extend his streak of winning seasons that began in 1996, and Mike Johnson's similar streak from 2000 was also broken, Both had won in their rookie seasons an every year since... Sean Caisse's seventh place in points is the best for a Sunoco Rookie since Leighton in '96., and his two Busch Poles are the best for a freshman since Ricky Craven in 1990... Tracy Gordon recorded his second top ten in three starts for the Fred Skaff team... Jamie Aube, making only two starts, failed to record a top ten for only the second time in his career... Charles Lewandoski's 11th was a Busch North Series career best.