Berlin Raceway race notes 2002-08-31

Two first-time winners take checkers; USAC, Super Sprints, Fireworks round out exciting holiday show. MARNE, MI - Leroy Magoon and Mike Bursley were victorious for the first time in their Berlin Raceway careers, winning the Coors Light Late ...

Two first-time winners take checkers; USAC, Super Sprints, Fireworks round out exciting holiday show.

MARNE, MI - Leroy Magoon and Mike Bursley were victorious for the first time in their Berlin Raceway careers, winning the Coors Light Late Model feature and the MTA Sportsman feature, respectfully, Saturday night in front of a crowd of 4,909. The crowd also enjoyed the return of the Auto Value Super Sprints, the fastest cars to race at Berlin, for the second time this season and the long-awaited return of the USAC National Midget Car Series, here for the first time since 1968.

In the MTA Sportsman feature, #31 Mike Bursley took a solid lead by lap 2, followed by #40 Dave Cutler and #52 Bruce Chase. The first caution came out on lap 11 as last week's feature winner, #15 Scott Root, fishtailed off the backstretch. On the restart, Bursley again jumped out to a four car-length lead while Chase got around Cutler for second place. A second caution slowed the race on lap 16 as pole-sitter #10 Jay Gipson spun on the backstretch after falling back to eighth place. #86 Ray Melinn and Cutler then resumed a side-by-side battle for third position that they had been waging for several laps, with Melinn taking the position on lap 18. Bursley, a second-year driver from Walker, held on to beat Chase to the stripe to win his first-ever 25-lap feature race. Chase finished second, followed by Melinn, #55 Chris Anthony and Cutler.

In the Coors Light Late Model feature, the first two attempts at completing the first lap failed due to cautions - a spin by #1 Mike Zordan and a multi-car crash in turn 4 as Zordan again got loose underneath #22 Brian Campbell and, although he saved it from spinning, everyone else behind him hit the brakes hard and piled up. At least nine cars were involved, including fastest qualifier #37 Todd Senneker and #12 Tim DeVos, who was running in fourth place in points at the time. DeVos changed to the #88 Tim Sweeney car to complete the race (since the race hadn't officially started, car changed were allowed).

At the halfway point of the 50-lap race, Anderson held the lead, followed by #11 John Grega, #11 Leroy Magoon, #22 Brian Campbell and #101 Joe Bush. Caution came out on lap 27 for debris on the track, and on the restart, Magoon quickly passed the lapped car of Randy Sweet (driving Marty Crawford's X car) then powered past Grega into third. Magoon continued to move toward the front, racing side-by-side with Anderson for the lead for three laps before taking over the lead on lap 37. He stretched his lead to a full straightaway by lap 40, while Anderson tried to hold on to second ahead of a charging #47 Fred Campbell, but Campbell made the pass for the position on lap 47. #82 Tom Thomas also moved around Anderson in the final laps. For Magoon, a 23-year-old driver from Spring Lake, the checkered flag was his first in four years.

The USAC National Midget Car Series, which has launched the careers of such drivers as Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti, returned to Berlin for the first time in 34 years. The tiny but powerful and quick cars put on a show in their 30-lap feature, with #19 Bobby East of Brownsburg, IN, taking the checkered flag, The 17-year-old East was USAC's 2001 Rookie of the Year.

In the traveling Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Super Sprint Series, Kevin Feeney of Oxford, MI, took the checkered flag in the 30-lap feature. Feeney won last year's fall race at Berlin as well. The Super Sprints are the fastest cars to race at Berlin, reaching speeds of more than 140 mph. The fastest qualifier was 63-year-old Hank Lower of Angola, IN, clocking a lap time of 13.175 (119.681 mph), less than one mph off the track record set last year.

Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, September 7, with a weekly show of Coors Light Late Model, Engine Pro Super Stock and MTA Sportsman divisions. Tickets are $11 in advance and $12 at the gate for general admission and $25 for pit passes. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the first race begins at 7 p.m.

The following Tuesday, September 10, Berlin will host the re-scheduled Chris Bradley Memorial 100, a Coors Light Late Model 100-lap feature that pays a track record $20,000 to win. The race will be NASCAR Winston Cup driver Johnny Benson's final appearance at Berlin Raceway this season. Tickets are $21 in advance and $22 at the gate for general admission and $25 for pit passes.

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About this article
Series Midget , Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Johnny Benson , Mario Andretti , Bobby East , A.J. Foyt