BNS: Lake Erie: Andy Santerre race notes

Andy Santerre Captures 4th Win of the Season; Proves Castle Packs Power! Harrisburg, North Carolina - Defending NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Champion, Andy Santerre and his ...

Andy Santerre Captures 4th Win of the Season; Proves Castle Packs Power!

Harrisburg, North Carolina - Defending NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Champion, Andy Santerre and his #6 Bessey Motorsports team continued their winning ways taking the checkered flag in the Local Dodge Dealers 150 at Lake Erie Speedway on Saturday night, July 10, 2004.

Santerre and his team accomplished their goal of "Two for Two." Not only did the team win back-to-back NASCAR Busch North Series events - winning the Sunoco 150 at Holland International Speedway on June 26, 2004 and the Local Dodge Dealers 150 at Lake Erie Speedway; they also made it two wins in two races, successfully defending their inaugural win at Lake Erie Speedway in 2003.

"Of course we had high hopes heading into the event," the 35-year old Santerre commented. "We ran real good here last year and you always expect a repeat of that type of performance, but there were numerous variables that had changed since last year." Santerre continues, "We qualified one day and raced another day, both in the sunshine last year. This year everything was on the same day and our race was at night. Plus, all the teams had experience there and had notes to go with and improve upon."

Santerre and team put the Castle Packs Power/Aubuchon Hardware Chevrolet at the top of the practice sheet in the first practice and were 5th in the second practice of the day. They were one of the last cars out to qualify and secured a 3rd starting position for the race.

Prior to the race there was a 45-minute autograph session that saw Santerre's line full from start to finish.

"We had a lot of support tonight," Santerre confirmed. "Castle hosted a VIP suite with 50 people and sold another 100 general admission tickets. Plus, my wife grew up in Northeast, Ohio, only an hour and a half away from the track, so a large contingent of our Ohio family and friends attended. It was great to see so many friendly faces, even though it added a few nerves and a little pressure."

Santerre started the 150-lap event in the 3rd position, on the inside behind Busch Pole sitter, Brian Hoar. At the drop of the green flag, the inside line didn't go like Santerre thought it would and he fell back to 5th . Slowly he began to work his way to the front. He raced back into 3rd position by lap eight and settled in behind the 2003 "Rookie of the Year," Ryan Moore. Santerre tried several times to make the pass for 2nd on Moore, but the car was too loose.

"I need just a little more forward bite," Santerre stated to his crew during a caution. "I am faster than Ryan (Moore), and can get under him but I can't quite make the pass without leaning on him." Santerre added, "We'll be fine, it's early and the car should tighten up when the sun goes down."

Santerre knew what he was talking about as the sun set around lap 85 and Santerre passed Moore for 2nd on lap 91 after a side-by-side battle for three laps. Once past Moore, Santerre set his sights on leader, Mike Olsen. Santerre caught Olsen by lap 96 and after another side-by-side battle, Santere passed Olsen for the lead on the outside. Santerre never looked back as he piloted the #6 Castle Packs Power/Aubuchon Hardware Chevrolet to his 4th victory of the season and his second win in a row.

"That was a great race," the Cherryfield, Maine native said. "It was a lot of fun. The last few weeks, racing has been what it should be, people giving each other the respect and room needed to race. Anyone can do a bump and run, it is a lot harder to make a good, clean pass for the position, but it is so much more rewarding!"

Sportsmanship has always been a mainstay for Santerre and his team and this week's event proved no different. Due to the absence of an established pit road at Lake Erie Speedway, teams were limited to the amount of equipment and number of crew they could have in the infield. If substantial damage were sustained, crews would have to make those repairs outside the track even if their pit equipment was in the infield. It seemed a no-win situation until Santerre and Olsen's crew chiefs, Roger Tryon and Harry Norcross put their heads together.

Santerre and Olsen, first and second in the Championship point battle, developed a strategy. Santerre's pit box would go to the infield with equipment and space to be shared between the 61 and 6 crews. Olsen's pit box would stay in the garage area for use outside the track by both teams.

A great solution, but a little uncharacteristic of two teams battling for a Championship.

"You are competitors, but you are still people and friends," Santerre remarked about the unique solution. "We want to win a 3rd Championship, sure, but we want to race for it and earn it on the track. We don't want it to come at another team's expense because of an uncontrollable pit situation." Santerre finishes, "Prior to the race, I told my guys if anything were to happen to Mike (Olsen) give him our full cooperation - access to our people and tools, he told his crew the same."

Santerre hopes to continue his good luck streak in the Waterford 150 presented by Big Y at Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday, July 17, 2004 when the team goes back to its original paint scheme for the rest of the season flying the Aubuchon Hardware colors and logos.

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Drivers Ryan Moore