BUSCH: Gateway Andy Santerre Test Pays Off

Another test, another success for Santerre By Shawn A. Akers MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 17, 1998) Testing, as it turns out, sometimes pays huge dividends for a race team. Andy Santerre is certainly convinced of that. The rookie driver and his...

Another test, another success for Santerre By Shawn A. Akers

MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 17, 1998) Testing, as it turns out, sometimes pays huge dividends for a race team. Andy Santerre is certainly convinced of that.

The rookie driver and his No. 47 Monro Muffler and Brakes Chevrolet team tested prior last month's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Autolite Platinum 250 at Richmond International Raceway, and Santerre responded by winning his first career series Bud Pole and earning his first-ever series top-10 finish.

The team also tested at Gateway International Raceway recently, Santerre and the team had never seen before. On Saturday, the notes from the test paid huge dividends, as Santerre recorded his first-ever top-five finish in the series, coming home fourth in the CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at the 1.25-mile oval.

"Being able to test here, I think, has been a big factor in the way we ran today," said Santerre, the leading candidate for the series Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award. "We didn't get to come here last year (for the inaugurual NASCAR Busch Series race at the track), and so without the test session, a lot of guys would have been ahead of us.

"We haven't been able to do a lot of testing this year, but the place we tested -- Richmond and Gateway -- really shows in our finishing position.

Santerre ran well in practice all weekend long, and finished sixth in Bud Pole Qualifying on Friday. He held the pole position for a long time -- including a 2 1/2-hour rain delay -- before five other drivers moved ahead of him due to improving track conditions.

"I really believe that if it hadn't rained there, we could have won our second pole of the year," Santerre said. "We ran that well all weekend long. The guys (his crew) did a great job, and I owe it all to them. We're a new team, a young team, and nobody's really run the Busch series before (on their team)."

Another thing Santerre contributes to his success on the race track Saturday was the work of his crew in the pits. The pit crew rivaled the best of them on Saturday afternoon and continually kept Santerre in the front portion of the pack.

"Our pit stops were really hurting us at the beginning of the year," Santerre said. "Everybody else was doing a 19-second pit stop, and we were doing 25. So, we decided to work on that. It was as important as the race car. The guys changing tires did a super job and they got me in and out of the pits in the same position as I was in."

Santerre said he feels the team is beginning to peak at the right time this season. Winning the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award is his and the team's main focus for the remaining three races of the season.

"We got our first pole a couple of weeks ago and our first top-10," Santerre said. "Now we've cracked the into the top-five. So, it won't be long before you see us get one. What we really want to do is keep having finishes like this or similar to this so we can stay ahead in the rookie chase. We really want to win that thing, but we have to keep doing what we're doing now."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR XFINITY