Santerre's Day Ends Early While Racing 8th Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the ...
Santerre's Day Ends Early While Racing 8th
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the #47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the NASCAR Busch Series, finished 35th after being involved in an accident on the 176th lap of the Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Friday, August 6, 1999.
Santerre, the 1998 Raybestos "Rookie of the Year," qualified 20th for the 200-lap race and was confident the car the MONRO Racing team prepared for him would race in the top-10 throughout the event.
"The car was awesome on a long run and on old tires," the 30-year old Santerre stated. "For some reason, this car doesn't have a lot of speed in two laps for qualifying, but it races like crazy. We wanted to qualify in the top-20 to be within striking distance because we knew we would be there at the end of the race if we stayed out of trouble."
Santerre raced in the top-15 for the first part of the event until the one and only pit stop. He entered the pits 13th and exited 9th after the MONRO Racing crew clocked an awesome stop and gained him four positions.
"Last year we would race good the first part of the race and then lose ground in the pits," Santerre explained. "But my crew has worked so hard to improve and they have done a tremendous job all season long. I can't remember the last time we lost positions in the pit due to a slow stop. Santerre finishes, "Our team has improved so much this season, we couldn't have won Pikes Peak if they weren't one of the best in the series."
The MONRO pit crew had a great stop and were anticipating a top-10 finish when the racing got a little rough and aggressive with less than 50 laps to go.
Within the span of 25 laps, there were three caution periods and subsequent restarts. The first restart had cars, lead lap and lapped, racing three-wide off the corner causing an accident that brought out a second caution period. On the second restart, one of the front-running cars brake checked the field coming off turn four and had the entire field bunching up. Santerre got into the back of the #4 car and the #27 got in the back ofSanterre and blew his radiator; a third caution was thrown for the #27. On the ensuing Restart a lapped car and lead-lap car got together in front of Santerre and it caused a chain reaction accident that caught up five of the top-11 cars. Santerre and the MONRO #47 were one of those cars.
"I thought I made it through," Santerre admitted. "I went low, onto the grass and thought I was clear until Buckshot Jones came down in front of me. I hit him hard. I lost oil pressure and we were done for the day. Santerre continues, "It is pretty frustrating. I know we had a top-10, if not a top-five car. I don't know what happened, but no one was giving anyone room. I had a hard time all night with lapped cars and I couldn't get a break. Everyone was racing hard, whether it was for position or not. Those restarts were pretty hairy and it was all I could do to keep the car pointed straight. I just kept hoping everyone would get through in front of me."
Santerre and the MONRO Racing team were disappointed about their finish but they were satisfied with the fact that they were running in the top-10 when they were collected in the accident. It doesn't make it any easier to understand why their day was ended by an accident that never should have occurred, but they can live with the fact that they were running strong and competitive.
"I hate that we were collected," Santerre confirmed. "But that's racing. The best cars don't always finish where they should. We'll just have to move on, get the car fixed and prepare for Michigan."
Santerre finished in the 35th position and earned $6,315. The team currently sits 29th in the points standings, 174 points out of the top-20.
The Busch Series will enjoy a weekend off before heading to Michigan Speedway, but Santerre and the MONRO Racing crew will head to Watkins Glen International Speedway to participate in the Pepsi 150 NASCAR Busch North Series event.