Santerre Scores Third Consecutive Season-Opening Victory at Lee USA Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre and his Aubuchon Hardware Racing Team came out of the box strong, winning their third race in as many years by taking the checkered...
Santerre Scores Third Consecutive Season-Opening Victory at Lee USA
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre and his Aubuchon Hardware Racing Team came out of the box strong, winning their third race in as many years by taking the checkered flag in the NASCAR Grand National Division Busch North Series Lee 150 at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, New Hampshire on Sunday, April 25, 2004.
Santerre, the 2002 and 2003 Busch North Series Champion, was ready for the 2004 campaign when the teams arrived at Lee USA Speedway last weekend for the open test session. Santerre and the crew worked hard on their race setup and after a successful test, left Lee feeling they still had more work to do.
"I wasn't real happy with our test," the 35-year old Santerre commented. "I felt the car should have been better off the corner and overall. I went back to the shop and went over every inch of the car, working hard to try and get it right."
The extra attention paid off as Santerre and the team were fast off the truck, making only minor changes to their Aubuchon Hardware/ Castle Chemical Chevrolet Monte Carlo during practice and posting top-5 speeds in the two practice sessions prior to their 3rd place qualifying effort.
"I'm happy with our effort," said Santerre, a Cherryfield, Maine native. "I was on the pole for a while then got bumped by (Dave) Dion. I was hoping to get bumped again and start third as the inside groove was where my car had worked best in practice." Santerre continues, "I was a little concerned about there being two racing grooves and my car staying neutral throughout the whole race. The weather was quite different than it had been during the day too and that was an additional worry."
Santerre's worries were for naught as the green flag flew and he immediately raced to the lead, passing Busch pole sitter and veteran, Dave Dion, for the point with an outside pass at lap 15. Santerre remained the leader until his two-tire pit stop around lap 70. After a fast stop, Santerre restarted the 150 lap-event in 8th position.
"I knew we would be competitive," Santerre confirmed. "But I didn't know we would be as fast as we were right from the start. At one point, my crew said we had a straight-away lead over second place and on a 1/3 mile track that is a substantial lead. I was surprised that the second groove came in so fast, (Dave) Dion wasn't giving up the bottom so I had to make my pass on the outside and was able to drive right around him." Santerre adds "I am so proud of my pit crew, we had some personnel changes over the off-season that broke up my pit crew so four of the seven over-the-wall guys were new and completed their first pit stop in competition and in record time. I'd even say it was the fastest pit stop I have had in the Busch North Series."
Santerre restarted in the 8th position, but with lapped cars to the inside felt as though he were 16th. Still, Santerre was able to maneuver through the field, passing to the inside and outside to retake the lead by lap 100. Once on the point again, Santerre never looked back as he raced to his third consecutive season-opening victory.
"I'm thrilled!" Santerre exclaimed from victory lane. "We have a one major goal this season - to focus on winning races and that is what we did. If we continue to win races and focus on one race at a time, our third Championship will fall into place." Santerre finishes, "Three years ago when I first came back to the Busch North, if you'd have told me that I would win a race at Lee I wouldn't have believed it, now, to have won three races in three years - I'm stunned. I know my equipment and my team is capable of it and our sponsors, Aubuchon Hardware and Castle Chemical, they are top-notch companies in their respective fields and give us their unconditional support to do what we do."
Santerre's win marked the 17th win of his career, making him 4th on the Busch North Series all- time win list behind Dale Shaw, Mike Stefanik and Kelly Moore.
Santerre gained five additional bonus points for leading the most laps.