Harrisburg, North Carolina -- The pit strategy of Andy Santerre and his ...
Harrisburg, North Carolina -- The pit strategy of Andy Santerre and his #6 Aubuchon Hardware/Brickmill Marketing Services/Castle Chemical Chevrolet team was no match for Mother Nature as she rained on the 35-car parade in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series "Mohegan Sun 150 presented by Pepsi" at Watkins Glen International Speedway on Saturday, August 9, 2003. After the torrential rain, the race was called 21 circuits early. Santerre, who pitted on lap 26, finished 11th in the rain- shortened event.
Santerre and the team had a detailed pit strategy coming into the 62-lap event on the 2.45 mile road course. Having been burnt by not sticking to their pit strategy in the past, Santerre and crew chief, Roger Tryon, decided to keep with their original plan and play it safe in the points race.
"Pit strategy is the most important element of the road course races," Santerre admitted. "We always start the race with a clearly defined pit strategy, but threat of rain and caution flags changed our plans in the past. This year, we decided no matter what, we would stick with the original plan." Santerre continues, "That is not to say that we didn't monitor the weather prior to our pit stop. One of my crew guys was watching the radar and it showed a brief shower and then clear weather so the second shower came as a surprise."
Santerre started the race on the outside of row three in the 5th position. On the initial start, Santerre fell to 6th but moved into the top-five after a lap four caution flag. Santerre would not fall out of the top-five until his pit stop at lap 26.
"We pitted for tires and fuel," the 34-year old Santerre confirmed. "This is the same tire we race at the short tracks so we felt it would be beneficial to change tires. The crew did a great job on the stop; we were the first car in and the first car out of pit road even though others that pitted with us took only fuel."
Santerre reentered the race in the 21st position knowing that if the race went the full distance, he had only two cars in front of him that had already pitted that he would have to pass.
Santerre charged through the field, racing to the 17th position. Four cars pitted after the 31-lap halfway point moving Santerre up to 13th . When the green flag flew again at lap 38 after a caution involving 2nd place point man, Kelly Moore, Santerre gained two more positions before the rain came on lap 40. The race was called official on lap 41 shortening the race by 21 laps.
"I wish I had another half lap, Santerre commented after the race. "I know I could have raced into the top-10. Still it wasn't a bad day overall as far as the points battle goes." Santerre adds, "It is a tough call when you are in the points race. We want to win races and let the points fall where they may, but when you have a situation like you had today, it is a big gamble to stay out and wait for the rain, especially when my points competitors have all pitted. It was a call we had to make and it cost us a top-10, but didn't cost us much in the points."
Santerre's 11th place finish help extend his point lead to 50 points over Busch North veteran Mike Stefanik.
Santerre looks to defend his 2002 win at Adirondack Speedway when the Busch North Series visits the New York short track for the "Dealmaker 150" on Saturday, August 16, 2003.
For more information on Andy Santerre and the Bessey Motorsports team, visit www.andysanterre.com or www.castle-comply.com.