Santerre Wins Third Race of the Season; Continues Tradition with Dave DIon Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, sporting a new paint scheme featuring associate sponsor and Rochester, New York-based, Castle Chemical, on the hood for a ...
Santerre Wins Third Race of the Season; Continues Tradition with Dave DIon
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, sporting a new paint scheme featuring associate sponsor and Rochester, New York-based, Castle Chemical, on the hood for a two-race deal, conquered Holland International Speedway and a poor qualifying effort with his third victory of the 2004 NASCAR Grand National, Busch North Series season Saturday night, June 26, 2004, in the Sunoco 150.
Fastest in both practice sessions, Santerre and crew knew they had a car capable of winning the Busch pole, but for the second time in two years, qualifying proved to be a thorn in their side.
"We were real fast in both practices," the 35-year old Santerre confirmed. "Naturally we thought we had a legitimate shot at the pole, until we drew for qualifying and learned we were the first car on track for the session." Santerre explains, "Teams draw a number during technical inspection for their position in the qualifying order. We drew four and since no other team drew one, two or three, we were the first car out to take time. Typically, cars in the middle and at the end of the qualifying session are faster. It really is the luck of the draw."
Santerre never lost confidence though he was starting 11th in the Sunoco 150. He knew his car was fast and since Dave Dion was the pole sitter for the third time that season, he was confident he could capitalize and continue their 2004 tradition.
"Dave (Dion) won pole awards at Lee USA and Seekonk earlier this year, I ended up in victory lane at both Lee USA and Seekonk," joked Santerre, the 2002 and 2003 Busch North Series Champion. "So I made sure I thanked him for winning the pole before the start of the race."
Santerre started mired in the middle of the 24-car pack, but with the help of a near perfect race car, moved into the top-five by lap 25.
"We were rock solid," said Santerre of his #6 Castle Packs Power/Aubuchon Hardware Chevrolet team. "We were fast off the truck and even faster during the race. The car was a rocket and it worked where ever I drove it all night long."
Reminiscent of last week's race at Stafford Motor Speedway, Santerre dogged the #47 of Kelly Moore for 40 laps trying to make the pass, but unlike last week, he was able to complete the pass and make it stick as he took 3rd position from Moore at lap 63.
By lap 72, Santerre was running second behind the #96 of Mike Johnson and pressuring hard for the lead. Santerre got a good run on Johnson off turn four at lap 81 and looked ready to complete the pass when the caution flag flew the next lap for a spin by the #06 car. Santerre
had not completed the pass prior to the caution so he fell back to 2nd position confident that when the green flag flew again, he had the car to beat.
- more - "We made a change before we came to Holland," Santerre said of his Chevrolet Monte Carlo. "We put in a new transmission with a different ratio than what we had been running and it was killer on the restarts. I could run all over the cars in front of me and the gear helped me get up off the corners. I had great bite off turn two and turn four all night long."
When the green flag flew at lap 88, Santerre continued his bid for the lead. He made several attempts to get by the #96 of Johnson on both the inside and the outside before finally filling the inside hole on lap 97. Santerre and Johnson ran side by side for two laps before they made contact coming off turn two on lap 99. The contact pushed Johnson into the wall ending his bid for his first win of the season.
Asked what occurred, Santerre told his crew at the time, "I don't know, I was inside him, next thing I know our tires touched and he went into the wall. I hope it wasn't my fault."
Ever the gentleman, Santerre would never intentionally wreck or even get into another driver on purpose.
"I didn't think I did anything wrong," Santerre related about the contact after winning the race. "I know Mike (Johnson) was loose when I was behind him or inside him, I tried to keep my car pinched down so we wouldn't touch, but according to witnesses and the third place driver at the time, Mike Olsen, Mike (Johnson) got loose coming off two and wiggled, our tires touched and the contact sent him into the wall."
Santerre was not unscathed by the incident as the contact pushed sheet metal in around his front tire. Concerned about the car, Santerre's team wanted a closer look at the damage during the caution but did not want to give up track position and bring Santerre down pit road.
Sportsmanship entered into the equation when friend and second place driver, Mike Olsen, who is also second in the 2004 Championship points behind Santerre, drove up to the side of Santerre under caution to check out the tire and make sure there was no rub. Santerre returned the favor by making sure the damage Mike Olsen sustained when Johnson came off the wall was not substantial.
After taking the lead at lap 100, Santerre never looked back. He survived heavy lapped traffic and two late race cautions, including a green, white, checkered restart at lap 150 to win his 3rd race of the season and his 2nd in three years at Holland International Speedway.
"I couldn't have scripted it any better," Santerre said regarding his win. "We have wins and victory lane shots with two different paint schemes, the Aubuchon Hardware car and the Castle Packs Power car, which is great for our sponsors, their marketing campaigns and our team."
After his win when asked about his new tradition with Dave Dion, Santerre laughed, 'I haven't seen him yet, but I am sure he'll have something to say on the matter. He thinks it is as funny as we do."
Santerre remains in the points lead for the 2004 NASCAR Busch North Series Championship, 39 points over 2001 Champion, Mike Olsen.
For more information about the team and sponsors, log onto www.andysanterre.com, www.aubuchon.com or www.casltepackspower.com