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, missed the starting field by less than a blink of the eye for the Myrtle Beach 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Saturday, July 17, 1999.
Santerre, the 1998 Raybestos "Rookie of the Year," was one race into his comeback after an impressive win at New Hampshire International Speedway in the NASCAR Busch North Series' Pennzoil/Replacement Auto Parts 100 last weekend and with the addition of new associate sponsor, LLUMAR Window Film. He and the crew had new energy and attitude and were optimistic about the short track event at Myrtle Beach.
"Short tracks were always my strong point," the 30-year old Santerre admitted. "Even though the field is smaller as they start less cars, we were confident we would be in on time. We would have been too."
The MONRO Racing team was decent in the two practices leading up to time trials. They were consistent on long runs and were dialing the car in for the race. At short tracks like Myrtle Beach, the cars are impounded immediately after qualifying so qualifying set-up is also race set up. They were confident the car was good, but the early qualifying draw was a concern.
"You always like to be toward the rear of the qualifying order," Santerre confirmed. "Nine times out of ten you don't want to be one of the first 10 or 15 cars out. The track gets more grip the more rubber on the track and with so many cars trying to qualify, the farther back you are in order, the better chances the temperature will be cooler or the sun will be down."
Qualifying order is determined by drawing a number out of a bin. All the teams follow the same rules and you qualify the number you draw. Santerre drew 6th and when he went out, the temperature was high with no cloud cover in sight and the track was hot from the 90 plus temperatures all day.
Santerre was originally scheduled 6th, but unknown problems with two other cars put him 4th. At the time he went, he was on the pole and he improved his practice time by .2 seconds. The crew was happy, they had done all they were capable of doing and they felt the time would hold up.
However, about 15 cars after the MONRO Monte Carlo time trialed, the sun went down and the track picked up a half second.
"Cars that were slower than us in both practices were picking up .4 to .5 seconds on their qualifying laps," confirmed a disappointed Santerre. "The track cooled down and got a lot faster." Santerre continues, "There was absolutely nothing we could have done differently. We went out when we were supposed to and we improved our time. We ran as fast as we possibly could for the time we went out on the track. We just didn't have the luck of the draw on our side."
"Racing is a difficult business," Santerre related. "Last week we were in victory lane at NHIS and this week we are packing up. It is hard on a person mentally, but I know we did everything right today, we just got beat by the draw. We have nothing to be ashamed about and we plan on going to Pikes Peak with our heads held high and we'll get it back out there."
Santerre and the MONRO Racing crew, currently 32nd in the Busch Series point standings, head west to Colorado for the Pikes Peak 250 at Pikes Peak International Speedway on Saturday, July 24, 1999.