Berlin Raceway race report 2003-09-06

DeVos, Meeuwsen clinch points championships MARNE, MI -- Tim DeVos and Ross Meeuwsen locked up their first-ever Coors Light Late Model and Engine Pro Super Stock championships, respectively, Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, although neither ...

DeVos, Meeuwsen clinch points championships

MARNE, MI -- Tim DeVos and Ross Meeuwsen locked up their first-ever Coors Light Late Model and Engine Pro Super Stock championships, respectively, Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, although neither added to their season wins total. The Hitches By George Sportsman division championship is still up for grabs and will be decided next week on Championship Night.

In the 30-lap Engine Pro Super Stock feature, rookie #5 Jack Drolema Jr. started on the front row and led early, but it looked to be a battle between rookie #19 Nick Szotko and #32 Meeuwsen, who started in 11th and 12th, respectively, and weaved quickly through the field towards the front. Both were running in the top five within 10 laps. Caution came out on lap 12 as #14 Jon Arendsen spun in turns 3 and 4, collecting #3 Ross Eppink and #13 James Haney. Szotko passed #76 Warren Speet for fourth on lap 16, then got around Meeuwsen and #29 Steve Sunde on lap 18 for second place.

Caution again on lap 19 as Sunde and Speet got together in turn 2, collecting #13 James Haney and #52 Jim Idema. Meanwhile, Meeuwsen cut a tire and pitted during the caution, failing to return to the race. On lap 21, Szotko made a move on Drolema on the frontstretch, but the two cars got together going into turn 1, which resulted in Szotko spinning into the wall and collecting third-place #28 Alan Marcott, the 1996 Super Stock champion who was racing for the first time this season. Drolema survived the brush with Szotko and went on to win his first career Engine Pro Trophy ahead of #71 Brandon Braisted, #97 Matt Keltner, Idema and Haney. #5 TJ Westveld won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 13 positions to finish sixth. Meeuwsen, of Zeeland, MI, finished 19th, but it was enough for him to clinch the 2003 Engine Pro Super Stock Championship a week before the points season ends.

In the 50-lap Coors Light Late Model feature, #1 Randy Sweet started from the pole and led a 2-car breakaway with #11 Leroy Magoon for 11 laps before the first caution, which came out as #222 Caleb Bisacky, #31 Mike Bursley and #22 Brian Campbell got together in turn 3. Magoon took the lead on lap 17, but Sweet took it back on lap 20 as the two continued to race side-by-side. #82 Tom Thomas joined the party at the front, and on lap 24 Magoon got loose after touching Sweet, which opened the door for Thomas to take second position. Thomas took over the lead on lap 29 as Sweet got caught behind lapped traffic. Sweet hit the turn 3 wall on lap 34, bringing out the caution and handing over second position to #37 Terry Senneker Jr., who had been hanging out in the top five all night. #12 DeVos took second on lap 37, and with a faster car than the leader, began closing in on Thomas. But Thomas wasn't holding anything back and charged to the checkered flag and his third Engine Pro/Federal Mogul Speed Pro trophy of the season. DeVos, of Wyoming, MI, finished second and in doing so locked up his first Coors Light Late Model Championship. Senneker finished third, followed by Magoon and Brian Campbell. #84 Bob Senneker won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 13 positions to finish 12th.

In the 25-lap Hitches By George Sportsman feature, #86 Ray Melinn led from the beginning, cruising out to a big lead while #36 Ken Smith Jr. and #1 Randy Veldman fought side-by-side for second with #9 Mike Root close behind. Dave Lake, who sits in third place in the points battle and is still in the hunt for the championship, cut a tire on lap 11 and was forced to pit. Root passed both Smith and Veldman for second position on lap 12 as Smith and Veldman remain glued together side by side. Points leader #24 Lee VanDyk passed the Smith-Veldman duo on lap 15 for third position, then on lap 17 Veldman finally broke away from Smith for fourth position as Smith faded several positions.

Melinn had a full straightaway lead and seemed in control and on the way to his first-ever victory, but he got caught behind a lapped car and was unable to make the pass for several laps late in the race. That allowed Root to reel him in and swipe the lead on the final lap of the race, winning his fifth Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex trophy by three-quarters of a car length. Melinn finished a disappointing second after leading the first 24 laps, followed by VanDyk, Veldman and #30 Zach Dunson. #89 Kirk Meissner won the Valvoline Hard Charger Award by advancing seven positions from his 21st starting position despite an early crash. VanDyk now holds a 79-point lead over Root and a 152-point lead over Lake. All three drivers are still alive for the championship, which will be decided next Saturday.

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

Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, September 13, for Championship Night. Coors Light Late Model, Engine Pro Super Stock and Hitches By George Sportsman divisions will compete in the final points race of the season, with champions being crowned after the races. 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.

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