NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series post-race notes: Freedom 150, Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H., Sunday, April 27, 2003 New colors, same result. Andy Santerre began his partnership with Joe Bessey in the most successful way...
NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series post-race notes:
Freedom 150, Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H., Sunday, April 27, 2003
New colors, same result. Andy Santerre began his partnership with Joe Bessey in the most successful way possible, winning both the Bud Pole and the Freedom 150. Last year Santerre returned to the series by winning at Lee, but that victory came in his own equipment and from deep in the starting field. He would go on to win in 2002 Busch North title with three race victories, but without a Bud Pole.
Santerre's double triumph on Sunday puts him in distinguished company. His 15th career Bud Pole ties Ricky Craven for third on the all-time list, and his 14th win ties Bobby Dragon for fourth in that category.
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J.T. Mase Motorsports came of age at Lee. The drivers for the Dover, N.J.-based team, Joey McCarthy and Tim Andrews, finished third and fourth. McCarthy led the most laps, gaining an added five bonus points which tie him with second-place finisher Kelly Moore in the standings after one race. The 66 laps McCarthy paced were the first of his three-year career. Andrews, meanwhile, picked up Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race honors. From laps 67 to 109, the teammates ran first and second as Santerre and Moore worked their way back after pit stops. When McCarthy stopped at the start-finish line for the top-three interview and photo session, crewmen estimated his 150-lap right rear tire had less than ten laps left.
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The Raybestos Rookie crop of 2003 brings back memories of the 2000 freshman class which included instant frontrunners Mike Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. At the midpoint of the Freedom 150, Tim Andrews and Ryan Moore were second and third. Both carry family traditions of racing success: Ryan, of course, is the son of all-time Busch North victory and Bud Pole leader Kelly Moore, while Tim's father is Winston Cup crew chief Paul Andrews.
At Lee, the Moores ran nose-to-tail from laps 70 to 105 with Ryan in front on old tires and Kelly behind on new Goodyears, but Ryan pitted and eventually finished ninth.
Mark Durgin enjoyed a good run at his home track, finishing 13th on the lead lap, with Jimmy Renfrew and Laine Chase also running at the finish but laps down. The sixth current member of the rookie class, Tucker Reynolds, parked with accident damage.
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Mike Stefanik's return to the Busch North Series was relatively quiet, but yielded a fifth place finish as he dodged several late-race incidents. Stefanik ran in close company with sixth-row mate Brian Hoar most of the race. Hoar wound up right behind Stefanik in sixth at the checker.
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Paul Wolfe's 16th place qualifying run was a disappointment, but it set the Dodge driver up to win the first Powerade Power Move of the Race Award for position improvement and the $1,000 that goes with it. Wolfe picked up nine spots, the same as Jeff Spraker, but Wolfe gets the nod based on his higher finish.
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Two of the Busch North Series' all-time greats, Dave Dion and Bobby Dragon, were involved in a multi-car, first-turn tangle on lap three that sent them to the pits with heavy rear sheet metal damage. For Dragon it was the end of the day despite the work of the Mark Willoughby crew. Dion, however, soldered on with a car that had no tail panel and required another series of stops to fix an oil leak. He finished 21st, five laps down. Demonstrating that being a champion means more than going fast, Dion received compliments from the top three for giving them racing room on a day when lapped traffic was a constant concern.
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The proverb applied to New England's climate, like San Francisco's, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute," was dramatically illustrated at Lee. Saturday, when the teams parked their haulers and inspection began, was as foul as can be imagined, with cold, wind-driven rain all day. Sunday, after a cloudy start, became a picture-postcard spring afternoon with cloudless skies, warm enough for shirtsleeves in the sun.