Meeuwsen, Haney earn first checkered flags Berenbrock, Van Zalen also win in exciting night of racing MARNE, MI -- Exciting finishes in all four divisions at Berlin Raceway Saturday night made for a great holiday Spring Championship show.
Meeuwsen, Haney earn first checkered flags
Berenbrock, Van Zalen also win in exciting night of racing
MARNE, MI -- Exciting finishes in all four divisions at Berlin Raceway Saturday night made for a great holiday Spring Championship show. The night produced two first-time winners (James Haney in the Engine Pro Super Stock division and Ross Meeuwsen in the Coors Light Late Model division) and two youngsters earning their second and third wins of the season (18-year-old Casey Berenbrock in the Standale Lumber Pro Stock division and 21-year-old Brian Van Zalen in the Standale Interiors Sportsman division, respectively).
In the Standale Lumber Pro Stock division, second-year driver #7 Kevin DeGood led the first 20 laps of the 25-lap feature. His lead was jeopardized on lap 12 when he suddenly slowed on the frontstretch. Points leader #55 Dave Lake smashed into DeGood's rear end, and #40 Dave Cutler continued the chain reaction by running into Lake. All three cars stayed straight and managed to keep moving, but as #7x Nick Gebben charged for the lead around the slowed cars, the caution came out for debris on the track and DeGood was able to retain the lead. Lake pitted and determined that his damage was bad enough to force him to retire from the race. Through the middle laps of the race the battle on the track was for second place, with youngster Gebben and veteran Cutler racing side by side. Cutler, on the outside, couldn't hang on and spun into the Turn 3 outside wall on lap 18. Three laps later Gebben took the lead from DeGood, but #15 Casey Berenbrock also passed DeGood and was all over the back bumper of the leader. On lap 24 Berenbrock saw an opening as Gebben slowed (apparently out of gas after the long, seven-caution, 26-minute race), and Berenbrock, an 18-year-old from Conklin, MI, shot into the lead for good, coming home w ith his second checkered flag of the season. DeGood finished second, followed by #52 Bruce Chase, #71 Kyle Ballard and #77 Andrew Nylaan.
In the Engine Pro Super Stock 30-lap feature, #35 Kyle Anderson led the first 19 caution-free laps, with #45 Sean Gipson running in second. On the move was #19 Nick Shotko, who started in ninth position and picked his way to third place by lap 8. On lap 20, Gipson went for the lead to the inside of Anderson. The two cars got together as Anderson appeared to come down into Gipson, and Anderson spun in turn 4, handing over the lead to Gipson. But it was a heads-up restart by #13 James Haney, who jumped around Shotko into second position, setting him up to take the lead when leader Gipson was black-flagged for heavy smoke on lap 21. Haney charged to the finish line for his first-ever Super Stock victory for the third-year Comstock Park driver. Shotko finished second, followed by #1 Brian Wiersma, #76 Warren Speet and #98 Bob Bliss.
Haney's son Brad couldn't join in the massive Mountain Dew Winners Circle celebration for his father's win, as his #13 car was lined up in the make-ready chute to start the Standale Interiors Sportsman feature. Rookie #5 Jack Russell led the first 12 laps of the 20-lap race. The strongest car appeared to be the #6 of Terry Bockheim, who started 12th and passed half the cars in front of him on the first lap and was in second position by lap 5. On lap 12, leader Russell got together with the lapped #51 car of Weston Jewett and spun. #15 Mat McClarren took over the lead, with Bockheim still running in second, but as the two were racing for the win on lap 19, they got together and spun. #44 Brian Van Zalen, who had been running in fifth place, saw his opportunity and charged into the lead on the last lap, taking the checkers for another exciting finish on the night. It was the third win on the season for the 21-year-old from Wyoming. #9 Jeff Sterken finished second, followed by #62 Charlie DeJong, Bockheim and Mc Clarren.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Johnny Benson came home to Michigan from North Carolina on an off weekend to participate in the double-length 100-lap Coors Light Late Model feature, but after starting in the rear of the field due to a rules infraction, Benson got caught up in one of several early crashes and retired from the race after just six laps. Benson's car was impressive while it lasted and he advanced from 29th all the way up to 13th before getting caught up in a wreck in turn 4, smashing his nose into the rear end of #222 Caleb Bisacky. Also involved were #21 rookie Terry Van Haitsma and #26 Chris Muyskens. That was the fourth caution of the night and the third in Turn 4; on lap 1, #1 Randy Sweet and #82 Tom Thomas hit the Turn 4 wall hard, collecting #X Ray Clay in the mess to start the problems; then several cars including #55 Chris Anthony, #28 Scott Thomas, #18 Keith Herp and #11 Leroy Magoon crashed in Turn 4 just before the Benson crash. Meanwhile #27 Billy Shotko led the first 27 laps of the race but #32 Ross Meeuwsen was running in second and was 1/10th of a second faster than Shotko. Just as he caught Shotko and pulled alongside looking for the lead on lap 25, another incident in Turn 4 involving Van Haitsma and #57 Rick Senneker brought out the fifth caution of the race. On lap 28 Meeuwsen took the lead and #47 Fred Campbell also got around Shotko for second position. Shotko continued to slide back as far as ninth position before suffering an engine problem on lap 45 and retiring from the race. The lead positions stayed the same until lap 76, when #22 Brian Campbell passed his father for second and a few laps later closed in on Meeuwsen and challenged for the lead. Campbell took the high side and got side-by-side with Meeuwsen, but couldn't make the pass. A red flag stopped the race on lap 91 as Van Haitsma lost it off the backstretch and slammed into the foam and tire barrier behind the scoreboard in Turn 3. Once green-lighted again,the final eight laps pr ovided a great finish as Meeuwsen managed to hold of the faster car of Campbell for the win. In all, there were 10 cautions, two of them with red flag conditions, in the hour and 14 minute 100-lap race. Fred Campbell finished third, followed by #37 Terry Senneker and #57 Alan Marcott.
Racing action resumes next Saturday night, June 4, with a weekly points races for all four divisions presented by Sunrise Ministries/Boyne Machine. It's also Reading Club Night with an encore presentation of School Bus Races. Tickets are $11 in advance and $12 at the gate for general admission (kids 3-12 are half price) Pit passes for those 16 and over are $25. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the first race begins at 7 p.m.