Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the ...
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the #47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the NASCAR Busch Series, qualified 8th and finished 13th by avoiding the accidents in the caution-filled Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, August 27, 1999.
Santerre, a first-time winner on the Busch Series this season, felt confident heading into the event. The first time Santerre ever saw the concrete half-mile, he qualified 6th so he and the crew were looking for good things. The #47 was decent during the first practice but the crew made a few changes to make it better for the second and final practice and they went backwards. Not sure why, they put the car back to what they had before and got ready to qualify.
"The car was comfortable," the 30-year old Santerre commented. "I just couldn't get a good clean lap. There were 55 cars trying to practice on a half-mile track so it was a little crowded out there. I never really got a lap to tell where the car was, but we were on the lower half of the time sheet. I knew I would have to drive the car hard during time trials and that it was up to me to find a tenth or two."
Santerre's first lap was right where he ran in practice, a 16.029, the crew held their breath for the second lap and Santerre came through, bettering his second lap by three tenths to a 15.774. The crew was elated and Santerre was pretty happy as well. The MONRO Chevrolet was in the show and starting up front.
"My first lap was bad," Santerre admitted. "The car wouldn't stay on the bottom and I had to get out of the gas. I knew I had to pick the pace up and I drove in deeper and picked up the throttle quicker than I had all day and pulled off the lap. I think I was one of only several drivers that had a faster second lap."
The MONRO #47 started the Food City 250 on the outside of row four. Santerre raced around 10th the entire first part of the race and escaped several close calls on the tight racing quarters at Bristol. Pitting was also a treacherous undertaking. The MONRO Racing crew has been spectacular this season on their pit stops, but the close quarters at Bristol made it difficult to clock off a fast stop. Santerre lost two positions in the pit due to the close quarters
"Pits are picked due to your qualifying spot," the 1998 Rookie of the Year explained. "So we were right there with all the front runners. We all pitted together and it was tight getting in and out. I think our tire carriers and changers were dodging tires and bumpers the entire race."
Toward the latter stages of the race, Santerre was running 10th at a restart. Lapped cars were to the inside, lead lap cars on the outside. It was a tangle because some of the lapped cars were slower than others and everyone was trying to get to the front. Santerre had a great run off the corner, and a lapped car pulled right up in front of him. He had to jam on the brakes to avoid causing an accident and a freight train of eight lead-lap cars went right on by. Santerre fell from 10th to 18th in a matter of laps.
"The lapped car cut right in front of me," Santerre recalled. "I had to stand on the brakes to avoid hitting him and I lost all my momentum. A line of cars went right under me, I had no where to go because the slower car was right in my line. That's short track racing and those things happen. It is a shame though because we spent the rest of the race trying to get back to where we were. Santerre finishes, "The car is in one piece and we got a good finish, that is half the battle at Bristol. A lot of teams left here all tore up."
Santerre managed to claw his way back to 13th by the time the checkered flag was thrown. His finish gained him a position in the point standings as he currently sits 28th only 75 points out of 25th.