BUSCH: New Hampshire Post Race Notes

New Hampshire 200 Saturday notebook By Dave Rodman LOUDON, N.H. (May 8, 1999) Notes and quotes Saturday following the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division New Hampshire 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway: Local favorite Andy...

New Hampshire 200 Saturday notebook By Dave Rodman

LOUDON, N.H. (May 8, 1999) Notes and quotes Saturday following the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division New Hampshire 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway:

Local favorite Andy Santerre of Cherryfield, Maine, got a good response from the estimated crowd of about 28,000 when he was introduced during pre-race festivities. Earlier, Santerre said he would test -- both his MONRO Muffler Brakes & Service Chevrolet and himself -- May 17 at Dover Downs International Speedway. Santerre, who is recuperating from leg injuries he suffered in the season-opening NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway, plans to make his return to the NASCAR Busch Series at Dover June 5. Santerre plans to put himself to the test while he works on the car. At least a 100-lap run is in the Innovative Motorsports team's plans. He also may test at Greenville-Pickens Speedway outside Greenville, S.C., if time allows.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. looked like he had worked out whatever past difficulties he'd experienced at New Hampshire. He guided the ACDelco Chevrolet to the lead for 19 laps at mid-race, but he was another who was victimized by the plethora of cautions at the end. He was eliminated when Jason Keller knocked him into the wall -- at least according to the Fleming Team Chevrolet driver -- on a re-start with seven laps to go. "The race car is tore up is what happened," Earnhardt Jr. said afterward, without pointing fingers. "I tried to get out of their way but a bunch of 'em got into the side of me and spun me out."

"We had trouble on the stop," he said of a late service lane visit for tires. "The ratchet broke and I didn't notice it until Turn 2. I tried to get out of the way, but they must have stacked up behind me and spun me out."

Despite his troubles, which knocked him to 34th in the final rundown, Earnhardt unofficially maintained his position atop the point standings, leading Matt Kenseth, who finished 8th in the DeWalt Tools Chevrolet, by 19 points. Sawyer moved to within 10 points of Kenseth while Green jumped into 4th. Keller is now 5th, 21 points behind Green.

"I lost a lot of points today, but they better get us while they can because we're going to be strong," Earnhardt vowed.

Terry Labonte thought he had a top-5 finish brewing, but on one of the late restarts, his No. 44 Slim Jim Chevrolet got involved in a barging match that saw Labonte parked against the Turn 4 wall and knocked back to 20th. "We were running 5th coming to take the flag and the No. 27 (Casey Atwood) got under me on the restart," Labonte said. "I kind of slid into him, but I knew I could hold him off through the turns because we were quicker and had better tires. The No. 17 (Kenseth) made a move and hit the No. 66 car (Todd Bodine) and knocked No. 66 into me and into the wall. I thought we had a top-5 car going."

Labonte wasn't as disgusted as Mike McLaughlin, whose No. 34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet was knocked out by a wreck for the 4th straight race. McLaughlin ended up 40th and fell to 7th in the standings, unofficially 285 points behind Earnhardt. "My fault, I overdrove the car," McLaughlin said of his lap 97 tangle with Geoffrey Bodine in Turn 3. "I feel bad that we were unable to give all the fans up here a good finish."

Bodine, who is trying to balance a full-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series ride with a heavy schedule in the No. 64 Luxury Travel Motor Coaches Chevrolet, was philosophical about the accident.

"I guess Mike was trying to go under me in Turn 3 and we both ended up crashing out," he said. "We had a good car and we were just riding around waiting for the caution -- unfortunately, I was the caution."

A Slim Jim representative said that Labonte's teenage son Justin, who made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Nashville recently, would drive the No. 44 Slim Jim Chevrolet in a stretch of races beginning June 12 at South Boston Speedway in the Textilease Medique 300 and running through the July 17 race at Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Jeff Fuller made his 100th career series start, but had a poor homecoming when he brought out the second caution. Fuller crashed in Turn 3 trying to keep from going a lap down on lap 108. "This is definitely not the way we wanted to end today," said the Auburn, Mass., native. "We had a really good race car there at the beginning. We got up to like around the top-5 or something -- we were running as fast or maybe a tenth-second from the leader. We came in for fuel, had problems and that put us almost two laps down. I knew we had to get that lap back then otherwise the race was over for me. Didn't really want it to end that way. Just want to thank all the fans, family and everyone. We'll get them next week at Richmond."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Terry Labonte , Todd Bodine , Jason Keller , Geoffrey Bodine , Jeff Fuller , Casey Atwood , Mike McLaughlin