Marne MI, 7-15-00, by Don Radebaugh â€“ Hometown favorite Tim Steele, before a packed house at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan, gave the locals exactly what they came to see, a victory Saturday night in the Berlin ARCA 200. Steele, from...
Marne MI, 7-15-00, by Don Radebaugh – Hometown favorite Tim Steele, before a packed house at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan, gave the locals exactly what they came to see, a victory Saturday night in the Berlin ARCA 200.
Steele, from nearby Coopersville, Michigan, held off Frank Kimmel in a 2-lap shoot-out to the finish to score his 37th career ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series win in his 105th attempt. Kimmel finished a half second back in second ahead of Brian Ross in the Biomet Chevy who finished third. ARCA veteran Mark Gibson, in the Cornwell Tools Chevy, finished fourth in front of Vern Slagh, who in only his second ARCA start, finished fifth in the Macatawa Bank Ford.
Steele, whose earnings totaled $18,500 for the night, donated his entire winnings to the Baker family in victory lane out of respect for Scott Baker who lost his life in a racing accident back in June. “We’re giving every dime we won tonight to our friends the Bakers,” said the emotional winner in victory lane. “Scott was a good friend of mine and we dedicate our win tonight in his honor. You don’t know how bad we wanted this one here at my hometown track. Our shop is about two miles up the road and we’ve got a lot of fans here tonight. And we sure didn’t want to disappoint them. Hats off to my crew chief Tom Sokoloski and the whole HS Die-Softech crew for all their hard work. They just never give up so I wasn’t about to either. It’s been a while since we won on a short-track and if we could have picked one to win at, it would be here at Berlin. It’s the greatest feeling in the world to win at home.”
The race went four more laps than the scheduled 200 to accommodate an ARCA-mandated rule that no race on a short-track can finish under caution. The thrilling green-white-checker finish was set up when the 12th and final caution came out for a stalled race car just as the white flag was about to appear allowing Kimmel to line up directly behind Steele for the restart. When racing resumed, Kimmel filled Steele’s mirror with Larry Clement’s Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Chevy, but with Steele holding the best line, the ’98 ARCA champ couldn’t find a way around the eventual winner in time.
Steele, after winning the Talladega Pole Award, led the first 26 laps with Kimmel in tow until the three-time ARCA champ came down pit road under caution for four fresh Hoosier tires. Kimmel then showed the way up through the 84th circuit before giving up the lead to Ross who took command when Kimmel came in for service. Ross, on older tires, managed to hold the top-spot for 17 laps before Steele, on fresh tires, took the lead again just past the halfway point. Steele led through lap 140 but gave it up to Kimmel in favor of pit road service. Kimmel then opened up a huge lead and appeared to be on his way to victory lane until he forfeited the lead with just 40 laps remaining in favor of one final trip down pit road for service and tires while Steele stayed out. Kimmel quickly charged through the field, and with the aid of the final caution, got one final shot at Steele but was unable to capitalize completely on the opportunity.
Shawna Robinson, who wowed the crowd in her first-ever Berlin appearance, had just passed Tracy Leslie for fourth with less than 20 laps remaining when Leslie drilled Robinson’s race car hard in turn two sending the Kmart-Pacific Garden Ford Taurus spinning off the race track. While ARCA officials held Leslie on pit road for the remainder of the race, Robinson, who had lost a lap in the exchange, battled back to finish 10th and was credited with the Landrum Spring Hard Luck Award. Bloomington, Illinois driver Eric Smith finished 6th in the Southtown Motorsports Ford while Normal, Illinois driver Curt Piercy, in the GA Rich & Sons Mechanical Chevy, finished seventh, the last car on the lead lap. Windsor, Ontario Canada driver Randy Churchill, in the JR Traffic-Beaver Express Chevy, finished eighth one lap down in front of Naples, Florida driver Cavin Councilor, who steered the Target Saws & Blades-Earthlink Chevy home in ninth.
Ross was credited with the Auto Value Halfway Leader Award as well as the Prestone Highest Finishing Rookie honors. Gibson, who started 21st, won the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions as well as the Thermo-Tec Cool Move honors while Steele collected the Quarter Master Comin’ Thru in the Clutch Award for his efforts.
The world’s most versatile stock car series will next appear at Pocono Int’l Raceway Saturday, July 22 for the Pepsi ARCA 200 live on TBS at 1 PM ET before it takes on the high-banks of Winchester Speedway Saturday night, August 12 for the Winchester ARCA 250.
CURRENT POINT LEADERS: Bob Strait 2650, Frank Kimmel 2630, Tim Steele 2480, Brian Ross 2430, Andy Belmont 2325, Mark Gibson 2275, Shawna Robinson 2270, Bobby Gerhart 2245, Norm Benning 2140, Cavin Councilor 2020.