Mooresville, North Carolina â€“ Santerre-Reece Motorsports, owned by Busch Series driver, Andy Santerre, Winston-Salem area businessman, Mike Reece, and Briggs Cunningham III, competed in both NASCAR Busch Series/Busch North Series events - the...
Mooresville, North Carolina – Santerre-Reece Motorsports, owned by Busch Series driver, Andy Santerre, Winston-Salem area businessman, Mike Reece, and Briggs Cunningham III, competed in both NASCAR Busch Series/Busch North Series events - the CVS Pharmacy 200 and 125 Presented by Bayer - held at New Hampshire International Speedway on Saturday, May 12, 2001.
Andy Santerre, a Cherryfield, Maine native, put the #01 E. J. Prescott Chevrolet Monte Carlo up front from the drop of the green flag and fell no farther back in the field than 5th until a mechanical failure earned him the Goody’s Headache Powder Award and a 27th place finish, nine laps down to the leader.
Santerre qualified 9th and earned his best qualifying effort of the season and of his team’s young existence. “We had a real fast racecar,” the 32-year old Santerre said. “It was a brand new car, we worked hard on it and were real happy with how it turned out. We didn’t have a chance to shake it down before we arrived at New Hampshire, so we were real pleased to be so fast in practice. My goal was a top-10 qualifying effort and that is what we got. I am real happy right now.”
Santerre started the 200-lap race on the inside of row five and immediately moved forward at the start. He was 6th after 20 laps and 4th after 80 laps, he fell to 17th after green-flag pit stops, but when the entire field cycled around, he was back in 5th position. Santerre held the 5th position with an extremely fast racecar and was biding his time, building up his lead on the 6th place car by over 11 seconds, to make his move. On lap 140, his luck changed.
“I radioed in and asked (the crew) if my brake rotors were hot,” Santerre recalled. “They took a look and said they weren’t glowing, I told them the brakes were spongy, then five laps later, I radioed that I had no brakes at all. That is a bad feeling, knowing you have to bail that car in the corner and not having any brakes to stop you. I held on as long as I could, but finally had to bring the car in and fix the problem. We lost nine laps trying to get the brakes back.” Santerre continues, “What a heartbreak. I had a great racecar and would have at least finished 5th, if not higher. It doesn’t seem like we can catch a break.”
Santerre-Reece Motorsports is only four races old. Unfortunately, the young team has experienced heartbreak in all four races. Santerre explains, “Our first race was Rockingham and we were racing in the top-five when we came in for a green-flag pit stop. I hired a Winston Cup crew to ensure quality pit stops, but we had a problem with the jack and it cost us two laps. At Bristol, we led 72 laps and won the Gatorade Front-Runner Award for leading the most laps, but got wrecked by a lapped car with less than 50 to go while running in the top-10. At Nashville, we were an average car, but had a decent run going when we got caught up in someone else’s accident. Now, at New Hampshire, we have another strong car and have the first mechanical failure I can remember on our racecars.” Santerre finishes, “It is easy to get discouraged, but I take pride in the fact that we have prepared a competitive race car at every event we have been to. Other teams are noticing us and we are proving we have all the ingredients to build a successful team. We are running in the top-five and eventually, the finish we want will come. I’d rather run up front and have something happen, than run in the back and salvage a mid-pack finish. We’re just going to regroup and wait for Milwaukee or Watkins Glen so we can give it another try.”
The Santerre-Reece crew proved they were professionals as they quickly shook off the heartbreak of the Busch race to get ready for the second half of their day and the NASCAR Busch North Series 125-lap event.
Tom Carey Jr., an Orange, Massachusetts native and Santerre-Reece Motorsports crew member, did double duty as a crew member and driver of the team’s #44 Team EJP/Aubuchon Hardware Busch North Series entry. And what a job he did.
Carey Jr. qualified 13th after a limited practice session for the North race and proved he had the car to beat in happy hour.
By lap 10 he was in 10th and excellent pit strategy gained him six positions after the crew’s one and only pit stop. By lap 44, he was in 3rdplace, he took over 2nd at lap 80 and took the lead on lap 92. However, lapped traffic played a major part in the lead and Carey Jr. surrendered the lead while in traffic. Never one to give up, Carey Jr. fought back and regained the lead on lap 106 of the 125-lap event.
“I had an awesome car,” Carey Jr. confirmed. “We were a little tight when we were right behind someone, but Andy (Santerre) helped me a lot in how to combat an aero push. He was on the radio the whole time talking to me and using all his experience to guide me through the traffic.”
Carey Jr. had built up a two second lead by lap 121, there was no way the second place car could catch us, but fate intervened. As Carey Jr. came around turn four to take three to go, his right front tire blew and he scraped the wall. It was the second h eartbreak of the day for a team that could have forgotten their Busch race misfortune with a trip to victory lane.
“I can’t believe it,” Carey Jr. said, still numb from the reality of it. “That race was ours. We had the best car and had only three laps to go. Man, that was the best racecar I have ever sat in, it was so easy to drive. We’ll be back and get ‘em in July. Count on it!”
Santerre-Reece Motorsports may have had a heartbreaking weekend, running up front and finishing 27th and 14th in their respective races, but they showed they had two of the best cars in either field. They will try again in the NASCAR Busch Series on July 1st at The Milwaukee Mile and again on July 8th at Watkins Glen International Speedway.
Carey Jr. will race again July 21st at New Hampshire International Speedway in the NASCAR Busch North Series.