Beats Ross Kenseth, Chase Elliott to the checkered flag.
After an extended vacation, the fifth race of the 2015 racing season for the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS was also be one of the biggest and highest paying races in North America. The Battle at Berlin 251 Presented by Primera Plastics served as round #1 of the JEGS/CRA $100,000 Super Late Model Triple Crown Series on a special Tuesday night, June 16th at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan. $10,000 awaits the winner with the 30-car starting field getting a minimum of $2,000 just to start the prestigious event.
In six previous incarnations of what is now the Battle at Berlin 251, Brian Campbell won what was the Rowdy 251 back in 2009 while NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star, Kyle Busch won the next three events from 2010-2012. When the race emerged at what is known today as the Battle at Berlin 251, Three-Time ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion, Johnny VanDoorn has won the last two races of the prestigious race. In the 2015 version of the prestigious event, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star, Erik Jones overcame a previous day practice crash, climbed into a backup car and with 48 laps to go, took the lead from Ross Kenseth and went on to scored a $10,000+ payday.
"These guys worked so hard. We brought a brand new car here for practice on Monday and wrecked pretty hard. We just KO’d it. These guys at Port City went and put another car together late last night. It’s amazing, man." The emotional 19-year-old driver of the #61 Port City Racecars / Pioneer Construction / Toyota explained in victory lane after the race. "They worked so hard and I wanted to win for them so bad. They really deserved it. It’s been a while since we’ve won this year. We’ve led a lot of laps and have had fast trucks and cars, but it’s been about a month and a half of disappointment and hardship. This turned everything around and it feels great," the Byron, Michigan driver added.
After JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance point's leader, Dalton Armstrong won the Toyota / EDCO Welding Pole award, worth $1,000; it was Armstrong and Two-Time Reigning Series Champion, Travis Braden leading the stacked 31-car field to Chief Starter, Scott Menlen's green flag to start the Battle at Berlin 251. Armstrong shot out to the lead as the rest of the field jockeyed for position behind him. 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, Chase Elliott, who started fourth, climbed his way to second and stalked Armstrong for several laps early on.
On lap 29, the 19-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia standout drove around Armstrong to take the top spot. Three cautions slowed the pace between laps 38-79 and during the green flag periods, Chad Finley had worked his way up to the second spot. On the ensuing restart working on lap 80, Finley got around Elliott to take over the top spot only to see Elliott recoil and reclaim the lead on lap 98. A lengthy green flag run was slowed by a caution on lap 159 which saw all of the lead lap cars make their first pit stops of the race for two tires and fuel.
Elliott came out first and was trailed by Erik Jones and Ross Kenseth. Another caution right after the restart would see most of the leaders head back down pit road for two more tires. Kenseth and Lauren Bush were the only two drivers that stayed out on two tires while the rest of the leaders now had four fresh Hoosier Racing Tires on their machines giving the lead to Kenseth. In what was the final slowdown of the race on lap 185, the outside lane was delayed in getting going forcing a big stack up of cars behind the leaders and drawing the red flag.
Among the contenders involved included Terry Senneker Jr., Bubba Pollard, Christopher Bell, Dominique Van Wieringen, Braden, Finley, Brian Campbell, 17-year-old Hunter Baize and 2013 rookie of the year, Ali Kern. Senneker Jr., Braden and Finley were done for the night while the rest, all with damage, was able to continue. Kenseth maintained the lead on what would be the final restart, but now had Jones, who missed the pileup, on his back bumper. Jones worked on Kenseth for several laps and they battled side by side before Jones put himself in the lead for good on lap 205.
Jones in backup
From there, it was all Jones the rest of the way as he pulled away from the rest of the pack leaving Kenseth to battle with 18-year-old John Hunter Nemechek and Berlin regular, Chris Koslek for second through fourth. Jones, who wrecked his primary car in practice the day before was forced to a backup car provided by fellow competitor, Brian Campbell and Port City Racecars and his two days in Marne, Michigan went from the lowest of lows to the highest pinnacle when he took the checkered flag first. He also claimed the first Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award for his efforts.
"Honestly after we wrecked yesterday I wanted to go back home. I was ready to go back and visit the east side of the state. I was convinced to stay over and race today and I thought it was a good idea to get back out there and try to get a win and it was the right decision." Continued the 2011 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Champion. "This is pretty special. There's a ton of family and a whole lot of friends here. It was definitely pretty emotional when I crossed the line. It was kind of hard to keep it together with about two to go and especially taking the white." He ended.
Jones is now the only driver eligible for the $100,000 bonus since he has won the Battle at Berlin 251. If he goes on to win the Stoops Freightliner Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway on July 18th, and the 44th Running of the Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway on October 11th, where he is the Two-Time Reigning Winner, he'll get the unprecedented $100,000 payday. There is a $10,000 bonus if a driver can win two of the events. If no driver wins two of the Triple Crown events, the driver who accumulates the most points during those three events will receive a $5,000 bonus and the title of 2015 JEGS/CRA $100,000 Super Late Model Triple Crown Series Champion.