* Three-Time NHIS Winner Andy Santerre Now Has Two Hopes For Owner's Trophy * Teams Bring Their Best For Prestigious New Hampshire International Speedway Events * Off-Weekend Bring West Series Road Course Success And Birthdays DAYTONA...
* Three-Time NHIS Winner Andy Santerre Now Has Two Hopes For Owner's Trophy
* Teams Bring Their Best For Prestigious New Hampshire International
* Off-Weekend Bring West Series Road Course Success And Birthdays
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 25, 2007) -- A three-time NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race winning driver at New Hampshire International Speedway has high hopes for the teams he now fields for two bright young stars.
Andy Santerre, 38, of Cherryfield, Maine, with wife Sue, owns Andy Santerre Motorsports (ASM), a powerhouse NASCAR Busch East Series team based in Concord, N.C. The team fields Chevrolets for Sean Caisse (No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet), 21, of Pelham, N.H., and Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 1 DEI Chevrolet), 17, of Mooresville, N.C.
After winning four consecutive NASCAR Busch East Series championships from 2002-2005, Santerre decided to focus strictly on car ownership starting last year. With the series' 2005 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Caisse and sponsorship from Casella Waste Systems, the team won immediately in the 2006 season opener at Greenville, S.C. Caisse won again in the second race of the season at Stafford Springs, Conn. He went on to score a third win, and ultimately finished second to Mike Olsen in the championship points race.
The performance attracted a lot of attention, including Teresa Earnhardt, CEO and president of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Soon, DEI and ASM struck a deal that would install Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of seven-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt, as driver for a new ASM team in 2007.
Through the first five races of 2007, Earnhardt is 11th in series points with a best finish of sixth in the season opener at Greenville, S.C., April 28. Caisse, meanwhile, is ninth in points, and won the second race of the season at Elko, Minn., May 18. According to Santerre, both drivers have the potential for success in the New Hampshire race.
"For me, my goal here is to provide up-and-coming drivers with competitive race teams and cars and maybe help them step up to their futures," Santerre said. "Our commitment this year is to help Sean get to the next level. We think he's ready and he has the talent. With Jeffrey, he's doing great for someone who has never raced in this division or any of these NASCAR Busch East Series tracks.
"We feel pretty good about going to New Hampshire this Friday," Santerre said. "They both showed they can run well there in the open test session in May. Sixteen teams tested. Sean was the fastest and Jeffrey was right there in the hunt, second or third quick. I'm pretty confident in both teams.
"I think Jeffrey likes the track and his confidence level is up. He's run five races now so he's got the feel of the cars and he's kind of figured out who he can race with.
"I think both teams can have good runs and hopefully we can get one of them to Victory Lane.
Santerre is well aware of the "prestige factor" of winning a race at NHIS, home to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races annually. Many NASCAR NEXTEL Cup owners, drivers and crew chiefs make it a point to watch the NHIS NASCAR Busch East Series races closely, scouting for new talent on the track as well as pit road.
"If you compare it to baseball, when we're at NHIS, there are a lot of scouts there, just like in Major League Baseball," Santerre said. "There are a lot of scouts on top of those haulers looking at up-and-coming drivers. It's a great place to shine.
"If you had a choice of being able to run good at one track, New Hampshire International Speedway is the one to pick. All the people you would want to watch you race are there. It's a great place to show your stuff. Everybody in the NASCAR Busch East Series goes there geared up. That's always been the most prestigious track for us.
"Even when I was driving myself, we always looked forward to going there. Originally it was one of the only TV races we had. NHIS gave us our biggest purse, our biggest crowd and our biggest track. It's always been a special place to the guys, especially those of us from New England who have followed that track from the day they broke ground. The speedway brought NASCAR to New England and made a lot of new NASCAR fans. To compare it to baseball again, NHIS is to New England NASCAR fans what Fenway Park is to Boston Red Sox fans. That's what NHIS means to us NASCAR people up here.
NEWS & NOTES
* Trio heading back east from Infineon ... Three NASCAR Busch East drivers used an open weekend on their series schedule to gain some valuable road course experience with their Grand National Division NASCAR West Series brethren at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., June 23. Eric Holmes, the 2006 NASCAR West Series champion now racing full-time with the NASCAR Busch East Series, started sixth and finished fourth; highest-finishing Grand National Division rookie Marc Davis started 24th and finished seventh; and NASCAR Busch East Series point leader Joey Logano qualified second fastest but finished 32nd due to engine failure.
* Happy birthdays ... A trio of NASCAR Busch East Series drivers celebrated birthdays recently: Ruben Pardo (No. 22 Family Dollar Dodge) turned 28 on June 18; Jeffrey Earnhardt turned 18 on June 22; and Marc Davis (No 18. Joe Gibbs Driven Chevrolet) turned 17 June 23.