BNS: Loudon: Andy Santerre preview

Santerre Making 150th Career Busch North Start at NHIS Harrisburg, North Carolina - Two-time and defending NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Champion, Andy Santerre will be celebrating his 150th career Busch North...

Santerre Making 150th Career Busch North Start at NHIS

Harrisburg, North Carolina - Two-time and defending NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Champion, Andy Santerre will be celebrating his 150th career Busch North Series start when he straps into his #6 Aubuchon Hardware Chevrolet in the New England 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 24, 2004.

Santerre began his NASCAR Busch North Series career in 1992 with a two-race audition with O'Connor Racing in the #15 Buick. New Hampshire International Speedway was one of those tracks and Santerre still vividly remembers his first trip to the speedway.

"I got the call to race for Mike and Pam O'Connor at NHIS in 1992 and I was in awe," Santerre remembers. "NHIS was the biggest thing to happen to New England in my lifetime and to have a chance to race there was beyond my wildest dreams." Santerre continues, "I will never forget driving into the track for the first time, I remember every detail of driving through the tunnel and marveling at the sheer size of the track and the facility. It was like Daytona to me - the biggest and the best! I remember thinking I will never race at a track as awesome as this again."

Santerre was naive in his early assessment of his abilities. His professional racing career began that long ago fall day at NHIS and has successfully spanned over a decade.

Santerre raced the Busch North Series from 1993 - 1997 with the goal of moving through the Busch North ranks to the NASCAR Busch Series. He experienced success in his early years earning the 1993 "Rookie of the Year" award, the 1994 "Most Popular Driver" Award and finishing in the top-five in points four of his first five years on the series but the series' championship eluded him.

In 1998 he moved to Charlotte to compete on the NASCAR Busch Series. He again enjoyed success, earning the 1998 Busch Series "Rookie of the Year" honors, winning a race at Pikes Peak International Raceway and winning a Bud Pole Award at Richmond International Raceway.

In 2002, he stepped back into the regional NASCAR Busch North Series and set his sights on the only goal that had eluded him in his career to date - A NASCAR Championship.

He earned that Championship in 2002 and in 2003 and is currently leading the Championship points standing through seven races in 2004.

"Looking back, I have been through a lot," the 35-year old Santerre admitted. "I guess you don't really think about everything you have been through or accomplished until you get to a milestone like this. When I started racing, I never imagined that I would have a 150th career start, I was just happy to be racing. Now, I couldn't be happier with my career or where I am in life."

It is fitting that Santerre's 150th career Busch North start would come at New Hampshire International, a track he has always called his favorite and a track where he has enjoyed success.

In 33 career starts at the track, Santerre has won three Busch Pole awards, won two races, scored 11 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. He has raced over 4,000 miles on the 1.058 mile oval and has an average starting position of 10.6 and an average finishing position of 11.75. He also won his first Lincoln Electric/Merriam Graves New Hampshire International Speedway Track Championship in 2003 as well.

"NHIS has been such a huge part of my racing career," Santerre confirmed. "I started my career here and my success at this track has opened so many doors for me. I can't imagine a race season without NHIS being a part of it." Santerre adds, "I remember racing here in 1994, I finished 2nd to Martin Truex. It was a great finish, my best ever finish at NHIS and I was so excited to have finally gotten a top-five finish here, then I got asked to the big red truck. I remember being introduced to some of the NASCAR executives, Gary Nelson included. At that meeting and they told me I had a real future in this sport. It was at that race and at that moment that I realized I could reach my goals and achieve my dreams!"

Santerre relates one of his favorite NHIS stories, "It was 1993, my rookie year in the Busch North Series and the inaugural season for the Winston Cup race at NHIS. Dale Earnhardt and Ken Schrader decided to get some seat time by racing with us Busch North guys. I was running good and was leading the race when I came up on Earnhardt's signature black car, he was one of my idols and here I am a rookie, putting him a lap down. We had a caution and he pulled up beside me and pointed ahead like he wanted a lap back. Here was my idol and we were racing each other. I got some great pictures of that race and that exact moment. I have them displayed at my home in North Carolina so I can see them everyday. Without NHIS, I wouldn't have one of my greatest racing memories."

In honor of his 150th career start at NHIS, Santerre will be signing autographs at Race Fever in downtown Concord on Thursday, July 22,2004 from 7:00 - 8:30 in between the Aubuchon Hardware and Castle Chemical displays. New T-shirts and hats will be available for purchase as well.

Santerre hopes to continue his successful streak with the Magic Mile as he begins his defense of the 2003 Track Championship Saturday, July 24, 2004 in the New England 150.

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Drivers Ken Schrader , Martin Truex Jr.