BNS: Santere-Reece Watkins Glen race report

Tom Carey, Jr. Uses Patience to Capture Watkins Glen Win Mooresville, North Carolina -- Tom Carey, Jr. showed extreme patience in his bid to win the NASCAR Busch North Series "Little Trees 150" at Watkins Glen International Speedway on Saturday,...

Tom Carey, Jr. Uses Patience to Capture Watkins Glen Win

Mooresville, North Carolina -- Tom Carey, Jr. showed extreme patience in his bid to win the NASCAR Busch North Series "Little Trees 150" at Watkins Glen International Speedway on Saturday, August 11, 2001. Carey, Jr. led only one lap of the 62-lap event in route to the biggest win of his career and the richest purse in the 14-year history of the NASCAR Busch North Series.

Carey had some big shoes to fill, driving for Santerre-Reece Motorsports and owner, Andy Santerre, a former NASCAR Busch North Series alumni and defending winner of last year's Watkins Glen event and Bud Pole.

"Andy won the Bud Pole and the race here last year," Carey confirmed. "I knew the car would be good and it would be up to me to drive the thing. I've always enjoyed success at the road course and felt pretty confident about my chances here. Andy and the team have given me a consistently fast car at every track we have raced this year and I knew this weekend wouldn't be any different."

Carey was one of the fastest cars in practice though he and the crew were more concerned with getting the car neutral then in setting the fast time. Still, Carey turned the fastest lap and claimed the Bud Pole Award.

"I told Tom (Carey) that he had to take my place," Busch Series regular and car owner, Andy Santerre said of last year's record setting Bud Pole and race win. "I had every faith in Tom's ability behind the wheel. I knew he could get the job done and he d id."

Carey and the team worked out their race strategy Saturday morning with one thought in mind -- be there at the end. Carey knew he had some stiff competition, but he also knew he had a good car.

At the drop of the green flag, Carey slid into 2nd place behind Brad Leighton and fell back to 4th at one point before pit stops. When a caution fell at lap 17, Carey came in for fuel only and went back on the track behind Leighton. Pit strategy began to play out for the field as only a handful of cars pitted at lap 18. Carey went back on track in 17th position.

Within five laps, Carey was back in 4th place, but was over eight seconds behind the leader.

A caution again flew at lap 53 and allowed the field to bunch back up giving Carey the break he needed.

Santerre radioed to Carey asking about the car, "What can we do to make it better for you?" Carey radioed, "The car is good." Santerre answered, "You're four tenths slower than the leaders." Carey said, "It's the end of the race, we're in contention and we've still got tires. We'll get them."

Santerre, crew chief, Stan Meserve, and car chief, Wayne Severance, held a team meeting on pit road debating whether or not to bring Carey in for tires and an adjustment. After the conversation with Carey, it was decided to leave him out there and advise him to use his advantage of being better on cold tires to get the leaders.

Carey did just that. When the green flag dropped again, Carey posted continually faster laps than the first and second place cars of Brad Leighton and Dale Quarterly and began reeling them in. Quarterly had tire problems and was forced to pit, leaving Ca rey in second with just one car between him and victory.

When the green flag flew again with only six laps remaining, Carey earned his trophies. He battled bumper to bumper with Leighton getting up next to him at one point until Leighton got caught up trying to decide the best way to pass a lapped car, he got off the track a little and Carey capitalized. He slid to the inside and never looked back.

Carey took the lead on lap 60 in turn 10 and led the final lap to claim his 5th career NASCAR Busch North Series win and fill the shoes of his friend and car owner, Andy Santerre.

"Wow! What a race," exclaimed Carey, the 36-year old Orange, Massachusetts native. "We came here with one goal and that was to win this race. I knew we were good, and the leaders were using their cars up during the race. I knew if I could keep them in sight and save my car and tires, we would be in good shape." Carey continues, "Leighton was good all day, and I knew my only chance was to keep the pressure on him and be there if he made a mistake. I got by him in turn 10 and knew it was my race to loose at that point."

Santerre, defending champion of the race, was beside himself those last few laps, "I was worried during the middle of the race. Tom wasn't running as fast as the leaders and we weren't here to finish 2nd or 3rd. We wanted to win. We put the race in Tom' s hands after that last caution and he pulled through!" Santerre continues, "I think I have as much satisfaction in building a fast race car and watching it win as I do in driving it. I am just as excited and immensely satisfied."

Carey brought Santerre-Reece Motorsports and owners, Santerre, Mike Reece and Briggs Cunningham III, their first team win and he did it on national television in front of millions of viewers. Asked if he realized the magnitude of what he just accomplishe d, Carey replied, "I just can't believe it, It hasn't settled in, but when it does it will be big! This team has worked so hard and we have run good, not just with me in the Busch North races, but with Andy (Santerre) in the Busch Series races, we just ha ven't had much luck. This race makes up for a lot of the disappointment of the season and I hope it will open some doors and bring good things in the future."

The Santerre-Reece Motorsports #44 EJ Prescott, Wittenberg University and Kendall Motor Oil Chevrolet earned $30,075.

-SRM-

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