THREE TIMES A CHARM FOR ANDREWS AT DOVER By Penny Aicardi
Holds Off Former Cup Star For First-Career BES Win
Three times now, Tim Andrews, son of NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief Paul Andrews, has come to Dover International Speedway (DE) in hopes of gaining the attention of the racing world. And three times is exactly the number of attempts it took for the young driver to pass former NEXTEL Cup Series driver Steve Park for the lead in the NASCAR Busch East Series race Friday at Dover. An accident two laps before the race conclusion set up a green-white-checkered finish where Andrews held off Park for his first career win in the series.
“This is unbelievable,” the ecstatic driver said after the race. “After three years of coming here, I’ve dreamed about this. The first time here, I would lay awake at night just dreaming of winning. The second time, I would lay awake at night thinking about what we could do different to win here. This time, we did it right.”
Andrews led for a total of 73 laps and swapped the lead with Park three times in the second half of the race. The determining battle began at lap 142 when Andrews, after being shut out by Park on the bottom groove, began to search around for a groove up top. At lap 145, Andrews turned up the heat and tried to make a run on Park using the outside. Park shut the door, but Andrews wasn’t giving up and he tried the same line in the same corner on lap 146. Park held him off again. But when Andrews gave the challenge a third try, it stuck.
Tim Andrews beat darkness and Steve Park to win at Dover. (51 Photos)
“We searched for a groove and we found it,” said Andrews. “I threw it up in the corner and it stuck, man. I couldn’t believe it worked.”
"He did a wonderful job of not wrecking himself or me,” added Park. “I figured if I just held it down on the bottom I could take that line away from him and he’d have to go around me on the outside. It was a lot of fun racing with him, and he did a great job.”
Andrews was one of three drivers to break the 150mph speed barrier in qualifying – a feat never before accomplished in the Busch East Series – to earn a third place starting position. Andrews led 24 laps in the early going, but relinquished the lead to Sean Caisse on a restart at lap 28.
Following a long green flag run, Andrews led a procession down pit road at lap 67 while Caisse stayed out.
“They opened up the pit road real late. That kind of surprised me,” explained Andrews. “We saw them give the green light and we came right in. ”
Caisse pitted the following circuit, but the late pit stop clearly hurt him.
"NASCAR said that pit road was closed when I was on the backstretch, and I called in to my spotter right before we got to pit road and asked if he was sure pit road was closed. The light was red, and he told me that they hadn’t said anything to him. Right as I went by the commitment cones, it went green,” Caisse said.
Andrews lined up beside Bryon Chew, who was the only driver on the lead lap who failed to pit, for the restart. Andrews, with four fresh tires, was easily able to drive right by. Park became Andrews biggest nemesis in the second half of the race – taking the lead on a restart at lap 113.
“We got into second and got the lead on a restart,” said Park. “We kept getting a caution and we kept getting lapped cars so I kept trying to put some space between me and him, but every time we got clean track he would just reel me back in.”
After Andrews reclaimed the lead at lap 147, Ryan Seaman lost control of his 06 Erbe Carting/ERS Fleet Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo and slammed into the wall. Seaman’s machine burst into flames before coming to a rest. The driver exited the car himself, but was clearly shaken and received medical attention from safety personnel immediately. The red flag was shown and the driver was transported to Kent General Hospital in Dover. Seaman cut a tire after making contact with Bryon Chew the lap before.
“I got slowed up so much by the 96 (Mike Johnson),” said Chew. “He moved up in my lane and I had nowhere to go so I dove underneath him and Ryan was right there. I didn’t mean to do that. I don’t race like that and I’m just happy that he’s okay."
Steve Park (green hat) congratulates Andrews (gray hat) on his victory.
When the race resumed, Park jumped out for the lead for one circuit before Andrews reclaimed the lead and checkers.
“When I got the lead I just got too free,” said Park. “He was just too strong. We were going to wreck and finish last or second-to-last or we were going to finish second. I’ve been racing long enough to know that finishing second is not always the worst thing in the world.
“I’ve watched him grow up since he was a little kid and Paul Andrews was my crew chief for numerous years. We had numerous wins ourselves together,” continued Park. “To watch Timmy go from sweeping the garage floor to getting a win here at Dover is, well, I almost feel like a proud father. It’s pretty exciting.”
Chew finished third followed by Matt Kobyluck and series point leader Mike Olsen, who extended his point lead to 109 points over Sean Caisse, who experienced mechanical issues in the race and finished 22nd.
For Andrews, he hopes this win is a chance at something bigger and better for next year.
Tim Andrews had a lot of help from his family (including dad Paul, right) and crew at Dover.
“Hopefully, this win will give me some opportunities,” said Andrews. “I don’t really care what it is. As long as I’ve got a sponsor on the side of my racecar, it can be Late Models, Busch East, Busch or Cup – as long as I’m racing.”
Andrews (#9) took the lead early and put on a good show with Sean Caisse (#44).