Harrisburg, North Carolina -- Andy Santerre, driver of the ...
Harrisburg, North Carolina -- Andy Santerre, driver of the #6 Aubuchon Hardware/ Brickmill Marketing Services/Castle Chemical Chevrolet on the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, finished a disappointing 24th in a field of 24 in the Budweiser 150 at Seekonk Speedway on Saturday, August 2, 2003.
Santerre was the fastest car off the truck, topping the sheet in the first practice session and was 7th fastest in the second practice session. Santerre backed up his practice efforts with a 5th place qualifying position. He had every confidence heading into the event.
"We're good," Santerre confirmed after qualifying at a speed of 90.894 MPH on the ¼-mile oval. "I think we have a great car for the race. It is real hard to pass here so track position is key. If we can stay out of trouble, we should be contending for the win at lap-150."
Santerre's good thoughts proved to be a bad omen.
Santerre was running 2nd, after moving up through the field quickly at the drop of the green. He was continually challenging eventual race-winner, Kelly Moore for the top spot. On a lap 85 restart, Santerre made a judgment call which turned out to be the start of his evening's problems.
"We were coming to the green flag to restart," Santerre explained. "The pace car was still on the track and there were lapped cars coming out of pit road right ahead of the leaders. I couldn't believe they threw the green flag, I was delayed on the start which allowed the #55 of Stefanik to have more momentum going into the corner. There was a lapped car already there and we went three-wide down the back stretch. The #55 got into my left rear quarter pretty good and broke the panhard bar. It began dragging and rubbing on the tire. I lost the tire laps later and spun." Santerre continues, "I was able to change the tire and stay on the lead lap, but when I went back out, the car started smoking, I spun again on the front stretch. When I entered my pit to make repairs, there was a support bracket loose and NASCAR would not allow me back on the track until I could fix it."
Santerre lost 31 laps in the repair but managed to get back on the track to avoid a DNF. His last place finish cut his point lead to a mere 11 points.
"It was a bad night, our second in a row," Santerre theorized. "But the cars isn't too damaged and we were able to get back out and finish the race. It is disappointing, yes, but in the last two events when we have had bad finishes, we were still contending for the win before the problems. Our car is fast every week and even when we finished back, we have contended for the win at some point in the race. I'm not worried that this string of bad luck will continue."
Santerre is philosophical in his approach to the Championship. "If it is meant to be it will be. Watkins Glen is another race. I feel I have the best team on the series and some of the best equipment out there. We're not giving up, we'll be there in each of the remaining races battling for the win and the points will fall where they will."
Santerre and team will head to Watkins Glen International Speedway in the Finger Lakes region of New York to compete in the Mohegan Sun "150" presented by Pepsi on Saturday, August 9, 2003.