Berlin Raceway race notes 2003-06-21

Mike Root hits paydirt on Sportsman Night; Meeuwsen, Thomas also win MARNE, MI -- Grand Rapids' Mike Root won his third Hitches By George Sportsman feature of the season in a special double-length race Saturday on Sportsman Night presented by ...

Mike Root hits paydirt on Sportsman Night; Meeuwsen, Thomas also win

MARNE, MI -- Grand Rapids' Mike Root won his third Hitches By George Sportsman feature of the season in a special double-length race Saturday on Sportsman Night presented by Vesco Oil. Ross Meeuwsen of Zeeland continued to blow away the competition by winning for the sixth time in eight races this season in the Engine Pro Super Stock division, and Tom Thomas of Grandville was a first-time winner in the Coors Light Late Model feature in front of 4,762 fans.

In the 50-lap Hitches By George Sportsman feature, the field settled in quickly for the double-length race after a pre-race on-track driver autograph session. Just one quick caution in the first 42 laps slowed the race. At the halfway point the top two positions hadn't changed from the start, as #55 Dave Lake and #45 Sean Gipson led #25 Scott Root, #9 Mike Root and #24 Lee VanDyk. But on lap 42, Gipson made a bid for the lead around Lake in heavy lapped traffic. Gipson pulled ahead for the lead coming across the start-finish line, but the #12 of Steve Walters was there and the two cars touched, shooting Gipson up into the outside wall. The race was red-flagged for the clean-up effort. Caution again on the restart as #49 Dave D'Avinon and #71 Dan Vandermolen spun in turn 4. As the race went back to green, Mike Root took the lead from Lake, who then brushed the frontstretch wall which allowed Scott Root and VanDyk to get by. Lake was forced to pit with a flat tire with just one lap to go, giving up a solid top five effort. Defending champion Mike Root went on to take the Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex Trophy, his third of the season, as well as a hefty payday thanks to the higher Sportsman Night prize money in addition to the $300 Boyne Machine Bonus Award presented by Club North. Scott Root finished second, followed by points leader VanDyk, #1 Randy Veldman and #86 Ray Melinn. #4 Nick Gebben won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 11 positions from start to finish. VanDyk retains the points lead over Mike Root.

The Coors Light Late Model 50-lap feature would have been a clean, quick race if cars could have bypassed the backstretch. But six times in the first 29 laps cars spun on the back stretch, going off the track into the dirt. The cars that started in the top five stayed out of the backstretch trouble, with only one position change in the top five as #12 Tim DeVos passed #1 Randy Sweet for fourth place. #82 Tom Thomas led the race, followed by #101 Joe Bush and #22 Brian Campbell. On lap 29, #57 Rick Senneker and #24 Ray Clay, the 2002 Engine Pro Super Stock champion who was racing for the first time as a Late Model regular after moving up from the Super Stock division, spun in turn 4. After two more single-car spins, Thomas claimed the Engine Pro/Federal Mogul Speed Pro trophy as the top three positions were unchanged from wire to wire. Bush finished second, followed by Campbell, DeVos and Sweet. #7 Alan Fricke was named Valvoline Hard Charger by starting 27th and finishing 15th. DeVos remains in the season points lead ahead of Bush, who moved into second place by five points over Sweet. Campbell is fourth in points and Thomas advanced two positions to enter the top five on the strength of the win.

The 30-lap Engine Pro Super Stock feature saw points leader Ross Meeuwsen claim the Engine Pro/Mike Marks Pro Shop Trophy for the sixth time in eight races. Meeuwsen came from third starting position for the win in a fast-paced race that was marred by just one caution (#71 Brandon Braisted and #14 Jon Arendsen spun in turn 4), averaging two laps per minute in the 30-lap race. The top four finishers of Meeuwsen, #2 Jimmy TenBrink, #3 Ross Eppink and #29 Steve Sunde all started the race in the two front rows, while fifth-place finisher #98 Bob Bliss worked his way up from a 14th place starting position to win the Valvoline Hard Charger award. Meeuwsen maintains a healthy points lead over Bliss.

Complete race results and point standings can be found online at www.berlinraceway.com.

Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, June 28, with Auto Value Super Sprints, Johnny Benson and fireworks! The Auto Value Super Sprint series makes a stop at Berlin Raceway, and Johnny Benson participates in the Coors Light Late Model 50-lap feature. Hitches By George Sportsman (25 laps) and Engine Pro Super Stock (30 laps) divisions will also compete. A fireworks show caps off the night. Tickets are $21 in advance and $22 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.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Johnny Benson , Alan Frick