BNS: USA-Lee: Andy Santerre race report

Santerre scores season-opening win in Busch North Series. Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the ...

Santerre scores season-opening win in Busch North Series.

Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the #44 LesCare Kitchens/Castle Chemical Chevrolet, solidified his return to the Busch North Series and his run for the 2002 Championship with a win in the season-opening Sanel Auto Parts 150 at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday, April 21, 2002.

Santerre announced plans to return to the Busch North Series just over a month ago after veteran sponsor, LesCare Kitchens pledged their support. Cultivating relationships already established, Santerre quickly re-signed long-time sponsor EJP and Wittenbur g University as associate sponsors and brought rookie sponsor, Castle Chemical, a Rochester, New York-based company that specializes in Automotive Aftermarket Chemistry, into the fold as major associate sponsor.

"Two months ago I wasn't sure what I would be doing this season," Santerre admitted. "I was hoping for a Busch ride, but sponsorship is tight and there are a lot of good drivers out looking for a ride. The bottom line is I want to race and win and LesCar e provided the perfect opportunity to do both."

The 33-year old Santerre came up for the open practice session at Lee USA last week and wasn't satisfied with his car. "We were good, a top-10 car, but I wanted to be better," Santerre explained. "I went through my notes from the test and came up with a couple of changes to make the car more consistent on a long run."

Santerre started the 150-lap race 11th and quickly moved through the field into the top-five. A mid-race pit stop saw the LesCare Kitchens racing crew gain a position on the pit stop. Several teams opted not to pit so Santerre came out of the pits in the middle of the pack.

Two fresh tires seemed to be the answer though as Santerre quickly passed defending Series Champion, Mike Olsen, and made his bid to the front.

"The pit stop was the key to the win," Cherryfield, Maine native Santerre commented. "The two new tires gave me the extra grip I needed to navigate traffic and work my way through traffic." Santerre continues, "I knew I had to beat Mike Olsen and Mike Jo hnson to the front because track position was crucial and they had strong cars as well."

Santerre won the race to the front of the field and led the final 47 laps to take the checkered flag for his 11th career Busch North Series win.

"I am so proud of my team," said an ecstatic Santerre. "This is our first race together and since I am based in North Carolina, and my crew is based in New England, we have a logistical obstacle to overcome that the other teams don't have." Santerre adds , "This was our first race together and I couldn't have asked for a more focused, hard-working group of guys. They did a fantastic job and we are only going to get better the more we work together. I am looking forward to the rest of the season."

"Les Care has visited victory lane numerous times in the past, but never with Andy Santerre Motorsports. I am proud to give them a win so early in the season." Santerre finishes, "Castle Chemical is kicking off a new campaign called "Racing for Clean Air on Tuesday, April 22nd for Earth Day. The win for them couldn't have been timed any better."

-lck-

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Series NASCAR