SANTERRE DOES IT YET AGAIN AT NEW HAMPSHIRE by Mike Twist
Low-Budget Racer Mike Gallo Puts Up A Strong Fight
Monday’s Sylvania 125 NASCAR Busch North Series event at New Hampshire International Speedway was largely a tale of two very different drivers. Both are from the state of Maine, but that is about where the similarities end.
Mike Gallo was making his second start of the season with a first year, underfunded and unsponsored team. Meanwhile, Andy Santerre has won the past two series championships. Gallo has not yet won a Busch North event, while Santerre leads the series in 2004 wins with four wins prior to NHIS.
As the laps clicked down towards the finish, it looked like either driver could be the one visiting victory lane. However, in the end, Gallo’s tires gave up and dropped him to a fifth-place finish while Santerre basically locked up his third-straight championship by winning the race.
For the first half of the race, Kelly Moore and Paul Wolfe
traded the lead. Gallo took over the top spot on lap 83 and almost pulled off a Cinderella story.
“We almost took one from the big boys today,” said Gallo. “We’re an unsponsored, volunteer team working out of a one-bay garage. We led at Loudon and if that’s not a story, I don’t want what is.”
Meanwhile, Santerre was taking his time to set up a run for the victory. He didn’t take the lead there were only 18 laps to go, but when he did get to the front the made it count by pulling ahead to a big lead.
“I knew that if I could get by the #88 (Gallo) and get my nose out there where the air would push down on it, we’d have a great car,” said Santerre. “We came in early and made the right adjustments. That was the key to winning this race; knowing what to change on lap 35. We could have been a tick better, but we were good enough to win.”
Late in the race, Gallo dropped back to fifth. Considering that he had more than his share of problems, that was an impressive feat.
“A tire came apart at the end and I had no second gear,” said Gallo. “I was a sitting duck on restarts. We were still able to finish fifth. I’m extremely disappointed, but hey - it’s
Andy Santerre rarely cuts doughnuts after winning, but when he does he really make it count. (51 Photos)
a career day for me. Maybe a sponsor can be attracted. We drove by Kelly Moore, one of the best in the business; Paul Wolfe, a southern driver and having Todd Bodine, a Cup driver in the field. We led these guys for almost 40 laps. How can I complain?”
Santerre started outside the top ten and on a day where almost half of the race was run under caution, he used patience to win.
“We had a great car all day,” said Santerre. “It’s tough to pass here, but I knew that if we could get out in clean air that we’d be the car to beat. We were faster than the leaders for most of the race, but had a hard time making clean passes. Obviously, racing for a championship made us want to do it right and do it clean.”
Santerre is joined in victory lane by his crew, wife Sue and young daughter.
Santerre’s main title rival Mike Olsen dropped out early after getting caught up in a wreck. With two events to go, Santerre unofficially leads the standings by 189. It will be practically impossible for Olsen to make up that ground before the end of the season.
After his victory, Santerre revealed some sad news that helped motivate him to the win. The Bessey family, who owns his #6 entry, suffered a loss over the past weekend.
“We dedicated this race to Nancy Bessey’s dad, who passed away on Sunday afternoon,” said Santerre.
Wolfe made it back up to second at the finish and was followed closely by Ryan Moore and Dale Quarterley.
As for Gallo, he’ll be back in battle this Friday at Dover Downs International Speedway and he likes his chances.
“I’ll be going to Dover no matter what and we’ll have a better engine and a better car. Steve Bird’s helping us and he has eight wins there. I’m going to take this momentum with me and try to win Dover. I think that we have a good chance there.”
Mike Gallo (#88) runs with the all-time Busch North win leader Kelly Moore (#47).