NORTH EAST, Pa. -- Andy Santerre qualified only 11th for Sunday's Local Dodge Dealers 150 presented by Travel Club International at Lake Erie Speedway, but the defending NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series champion and current point...
NORTH EAST, Pa. -- Andy Santerre qualified only 11th for Sunday's Local Dodge Dealers 150 presented by Travel Club International at Lake Erie Speedway, but the defending NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series champion and current point leader still had Faith.
Faith, in this case, was his favorite short track car, named for country singer Faith Hill. Santerre and Faith moved steadily forward, holding eighth place after 20 laps, sixth after 40 circuits, and fifth with 60 laps on the scoreboard. When Bud Pole winner Kelly Moore cut a tire on lap 62 and slid up the track, nearly taking Mike Johnson with him, Santerre was third.
After the first scheduled halfway break in Busch North Series history, Santerre went to work on runner-up Joey McCarthy, passing him after considerable contact on lap 81. Five laps later he drove around Mike Stefanik, the leader since lap 11, and Faith was rewarded with his 15th career trip to victory lane and his second in three races during the young 2003 season.
Recovering from his avoidance of the early incident with Kelly Moore, Mike Johnson came on string to finish second, taking the runner-up spot with 25 laps to go. Stefanik held on for third while leading the most laps, with Matt Kobyluck fourth. Dale Quarterley's late charge on the outside was rewarded with fifth ahead of Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race Ryan Moore, Dave Dion, Eddie MacDonald, Mike Olsen, and Bryon Chew. It was a bad day for both front-row starters as Kelly Moore suffered another cut tire and finished 16th, while McCarthy faded to 12th.
Santerre averaged 59.038 miles per hour and held a 1.033 second margin over Johnson at the checkered flag. His winnings of $8,493 included the $1,000 Powerade Power Move of the Race Award for position improvement. Only four caution flags for 23 laps slowed the action and 15 cars finished on the lead lap.
Kelly Moore extended his Busch North Series career Bud Pole record to 46 by circling the 3/8 mile oval in 15.234 seconds for a speed of 88.618 miles per hour, an automatic track record in the series' first visit.
Santerre, with two wins and a second in the first three races, holds an 80 point lead over Stefanik heading into next Saturday's Budweiser 150 at Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Mass. Ryan Moore, off to one of the hottest starts in Busch North Series rookie history, is third in the standings, 87 points out of the lead, while Joey McCarthy trails Santerre by 90 markers.
BUD POLE WINNER: Kelly Moore, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet (15.234 seconds @ 88.618 mph) -- automatic track record
POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE AWARD: Andy Santerre, Castle/Aubuchon Chevrolet
RAYBESTOS ROOKIE-OF-THE-RACE: Ryan Moore, R.C. Moore Chevrolet
CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE AWARD: Joe Bessey (car owner), Castle/Aubuchon Chevrolet