Santerre scores top-10; maintains point lead. Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the ...
Santerre scores top-10; maintains point lead.
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, driver of the #44 LesCare Kitchens/Castle Chemical Chevrolet, scored his 12th top-10 of the season in the MBNA All American Heroes "150" at Dover International Speedway on Friday, September 20, 2002.
Santerre had high expectations heading into the event at Dover since he had prior experience on the intimidating track. His expectations weren't realized the first day of racing though, as the team unloaded slower than they had hoped and had to work at getting the car to handle on the special Goodyear Eagle tire that was configured especially for the concrete surface. "I really had a lot of unknown variables heading here this weekend, the 34-year old Santerre admitted. "I hadn't been on these tires and wasn't real sure what front end I should put on the car. I guessed and I was a little off the mark."
Still, Santerre and the LesCare Kitchens team were 10th fast after the first practice and felt they were still in the ball park. They qualified 15th and we not real happy about that run.
"I should have qualified better," Santerre, a Cherryfield, Maine native, commented. "I felt like the motor was a little numb so I had they guys check it over real well and we found a bit of a problem with one of the valves. We got it fixed after happy hour and felt we would be a top-10 car for the race."
The green flag to start the MBNA All American Heroes 150 was dropped at 4:30 PM. Santerre started on the inside of row eight and immediately gained three positions on the start. Santerre continued to race around 10th and 12th positions until a caution flag came out with about 80 laps remaining.
Santerre followed the leaders down pit road for two right side tires then the next lap around, came in for two left side tires.
"I really thought tires were going to be a big issue this weekend," Santerre explained. "Earlier in the race during a caution period I radioed my crew and told them these tires were so slick I was almost spinning out just swerving, trying to keep the tires hot. I was watching the car in front of me and the rubber was flying off his tires and leaving a black mark every time he swerved." Santerre continues, "After we pitted for right sides, I told the crew I was coming back in for lefts if the leaders did. When I saw the leaders head to pit road again, I came too."
Several cars pitted only for right side tires and the Les Care Kitchens/Castle Chemical crew thought they would be easy targets once the race was resumed. A few were, but several were able to hold their positions for the remaining 80 laps.
"I really thought four tires was the way to go here," Santerre confirmed. "I guess track position was a little more important than new Goodyear's in the end."
Santerre began making headway after his pit stop and worked his way back to the 7th position only to have the handling go away on his #44 Monte Carlo late in the race.
"We got loose, loose, loose," Santerre stated. "I don't really understand why. All I know is we were gaining on the leaders and the car felt great then all the sudden it just got real loose. I couldn't really do anything after that."
"Still, we had a decent car and though we weren't in contention to win the race, we had a solid finish and maintained our point lead."
Santerre continues to lead the NASCAR Busch North Series Championship points battle by 28 points over Matt Kobyluck with two races remaining at Stafford Motor Speedway and Lime Rock Park.
"I am looking forward to the last two races of the season," Santerre admitted. "I run good at both tracks and have had success at both tracks in the past. Both Kobyluck and Leighton are good at those tracks too so it will be interesting to see who wears the crown at the end of the season."