BNS: Beech Ridge: Andy Santerre race notes

Andy Santerre, driver of the Aubuchon Hardware/Brickmill Marketing Services Chevrolet on the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, now has three wins in four races to start the 2003 season. Santerre passed Eddie MacDonald on the ...

Andy Santerre, driver of the Aubuchon Hardware/Brickmill Marketing Services Chevrolet on the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, now has three wins in four races to start the 2003 season. Santerre passed Eddie MacDonald on the outside with thirteen laps to go after making a mid-race pit stop to take the checkered flag in Saturday's Forest City Chevrolet 150 at the one-third mile Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.

"We had a great car, we knew that in practice," the 34-year old Santerre said after the race. "We knew that we could win this thing if everything went our way. To come to a race track like this, where it's tough to run outside, and to race someone that will race you clean, it was just an awesome night for us."

Santerre, a native of Cherryfield, Maine who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, started the day on a good note, qualifying second out of twenty-five teams in attendance.

"I guess if I had my choice of where to qualify I'd rather be third, this track is a tough place to run on the outside," Santerre admitted prior to the race. But the Aubuchon Hardware/Brickmill Marketing Services Chevy is fast, it's handling well, and here you don't need a whole lot of motor, you have to have a good-handling car. Hopefully we can drop in line, ride around the first hundred laps or so, and race the last fifty."

Santerre fell to fourth in the race's opening laps, but was back in the top three by lap 30, and passed Mike Stefanik for second on lap 79. Following a lap 62 restart, he challenged MacDonald for the lead, moving to the outside and racing him side-by-side for eight laps, being scored the leader for three of them, before settling for second again. He made a similar outside bid for the lead on lap 83, successfully taking the lead a lap later.

Caution on lap 88 gave Santerre and others the opportunity to pit, and he took that opportunity to have his Bessey Motorsports crew replace the right-side tires, sending him back in the race in 14th . MacDonald opted not to pit.

"I considered not pitting," Santerre said. That [lap 55] yellow when Stefanik and others pitted, I thought it was too early. The next yellow I said I was coming in, since it was getting real slick out there and I needed tires. I came in and saw that Eddie (MacDonald) didn't and I thought that maybe we screwed up a little bit. But once I got going and started passing people on the outside, the leaders were coming back to me real quick, and I wasn't so worried. When I got up to him, we had put a couple heat cycles in the tires, and it didn't run like it did with stickers, but it was good."

Just five laps after the lap 95 restart, Santerre was already up to seventh, and took second place from Stefanik on lap 112. Caution again flew, setting up a restart on lap 123. Santerre quickly passed a lapped car and caught MacDonald with twenty laps to run, pulling on the outside a lap later. This attempt to retake the lead was denied, but Santerre tried again on lap 136, and returned to the top spot three laps later. A final caution flew with just ten to go, setting up a five-lap shootout to finish the race. Santerre held the lead through those final laps, and earned his third win of the 2003 season. He increased his lead in the championship points standing over Stefanik to 85 points.

"Racing there with Eddie was great," Santerre commented after the race. Every time I tried him he'd give me a lane. I was having a hard time making it work on the outside; this is a tough race track to do that. We had a good car and we were persistent enough that we stayed there and did it. Without his help in giving me a lane, I couldn't have done that."

"It's fun coming up through the field," Santerre confirmed. When I was learning to race in Bangor, I always started in the back and passed on the outside to get to the front. This track is a lot like that. When guys get lined up single-file I just pull out and go if I can. If I can't, I still keep trying, I don't ever give up. You have to stay out there and run the wheels off it. It's tiresome, though, it's harder to run the outside."

Santerre returns to Stafford Motor Speedway, which the series visited last month, for the fifth race of the 2003 Busch North Series. Stafford is the only track that Santerre hasn't won at yet this year, as he finished second to Martin Truex, Jr.

"Truex will be there next week, and he blew us away the last time we were there," he said. Hopefully I can give him a run for it. We've got a brand new car to bring there, though we probably should bring this one here, because this car flies everywhere. But I'm saving this one for Holland, it won there last year. We'll bring a new car to Stafford and shake it down for Loudon, and hopefully have a good run."


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Drivers Martin Truex Jr. , Eddie MacDonald