MARNE, MI -- The season finale at Berlin Raceway offered some of the most exciting racing moments of the season Saturday night, including a photo-finish win by 14 hundredths of a second. The 2004 season champs were named following their three ...
MARNE, MI -- The season finale at Berlin Raceway offered some of the most exciting racing moments of the season Saturday night, including a photo-finish win by 14 hundredths of a second. The 2004 season champs were named following their three respective races; however none of the three were able to beat out the tough competition to win the final races of the season.
In the 30-lap Standale Lumber Sportsman feature, a lap three caution took out last week's winner, #89 Kirk Meissner, as well as #6 Terry Bockheim. Through the early part of the race, points leader #21 Terry Van Haitsma, who needed to finish at least 18th to clinch the championship, raced hard against his championship challenger #55 Dave Lake, with the two cars in sixth and seventh, respectively. Van Haitsma was able to hold off Lake and then charged past #52 Bruce Chase and #15 Scott Root into fourth position. Meanwhile, #20 Dave Hull opened up a big lead over #1 Randy Veldman, who was under a constant challenge from #15 Casey Berenbrock. Berenbrock made the pass for second on lap 24, and Van Haitsma followed him around Veldman and into third place one lap later. Caution came out on lap 27 as #21 Tim Greene spun in turn 4, bunching up the leaders and setting up a wild finish. Back under green, Berenbrock went low and pulled up alongside Hull to challenge for the lead on lap 27, then Van Haitsma got into the action, making it three wide on the backstretch of the final lap. Hull was odd man out, dropping back as Berenbrock and Van Haitsma battled for the checkers. The two cars bumped and grinded coming across the finish line, with Berenbrock claiming the Powerflex Trophy presented by Hastings Manufacturing Co. sponsored by Engine Pro by just .014 of a second over Van Haitsma, who won his first Standale Lumber Sportsman championship. Hull finished third, followed by Veldman and #14 Kevin DeGood. Berenbrock, a 17-year-old from Conklin, also won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 7 positions to win. Van Haitsma, a second-year driver from Hudsonville, edged Lake by a 65-point margin, 3574 to 3509, for the championship.
In the 40-lap Engine Pro Super Stock feature, #1 Brian Wiersma had already locked up the points championship last week, but several drivers were in the hunt for the runner-up position. A big crash ruined the night for several drivers on the frontstretch on the first lap; among those involved were #53 Chris Modzeleski and #98 Bob Bliss. Bliss was able to continue and found himself in the lead late in the race. Several more cautions slowed the pace, including contact between #9 Nick Shotko and champion Wiersma which resulted in Wiersma spinning. On lap 21, #5 Ray VanAllsburg, was currently in second place in the points, was forced to pit as something broke on his car, bringing out the caution for debris. That left VanAllsburg in 20th place and in danger of falling to third in the points. A final caution came out on lap 38 for a spin involving the father-son team of Ross and Billy Eppink on the backstretch, then it was Bliss who held on and came home with his fourth Clevite Trophy presented by The Dana Corp. sponsored by Engine Pro of the season ahead of rookie Shotko, #35 Kyle Anderson, #71 Brandon Braisted and #13 James Haney. Shotko, on the strength of his second place finish and his fastest qualifier points, moved up two spots to finish runner-up in the points battle, while Bliss and VanAllsburg tied for third place in the points. For Wiersma, it is his third Engine Pro Super Stock championship after winning in 1997 and 1998.
In the 60-lap Coors Light Late Model feature, #101 Joe Bush of Hastings needed to finish 24th in the 29-car field to clinch the championship over teammate #18 Lee Anderson. Bush started seventh and was up to third by lap 15. Pole-sitter #1 Randy Sweet pulled into the pits on lap 18, then on lap 24 defending points champion #12 Tim DeVos pulled into the pits with problems. A battle for the lead ensued between #11 John Grega and challenger #88 Tim Yonker, and on lap 28 Yonker moved to the inside and took the lead. Caution came out on lap 33 for a spin by #28 Scott Thomas in turn 2, then as the field went green, leader Yonker failed to get up to speed and was forced to pit with a flat tire. Grega inherited the lead, followed by Bush and #33 Dave Stehouwer. On lap 42 four cars were battling for the lead, with #82 Tom Thomas taking the high side and making a strong move from fourth to first. Stehouwer passed Grega for second on lap 47, then made a move for the lead to the inside of Thomas with eight laps to go. A lapped car slowed him momentarily but the determined veteran from Wyoming took the lead for good on lap 57, winning his second Fel-Pro Trophy presented by The Federal Mogul Group sponsored by Engine Pro of the season ahead of Thomas, #32 Ross Meeuwsen, Anderson and Bush. Bush's fifth place finish clinched the points championship, his third in the division (the others came in 1992 and 1993). Anderson ended the season 58 points behind Bush to finish runner-up in the points.
Complete race results and point standings can be found online at www.berlinraceway.com.
The 2004 Berlin Racing season is now complete. The next event is the Demo Scramble Off-Road Race presented by Unique Motor Sports and Berlin Raceway, scheduled for October 23 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $15 for pit passes. Kids 12 and under are $5. Grandstands open at 4 p.m.