Berlin: Race report

Campbell out-duels ARCA RE/Max regulars at Berlin. MARNE MI (7-20-02) Experience has always been the best teacher and it showed when Berlin Raceway regular Fred Campbell, a nine-time Berlin track champion, won the Pork The Other White Meat 200...

Campbell out-duels ARCA RE/Max regulars at Berlin.

MARNE MI (7-20-02) Experience has always been the best teacher and it showed when Berlin Raceway regular Fred Campbell, a nine-time Berlin track champion, won the Pork The Other White Meat 200 Saturday at the renowned Marne, Michigan short-track.

Campbell, 49, pitted just once for tires and fuel before fighting off a determined rookie Chad Blount in the closing laps to earn his career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series triumph in only his second attempt.

"I just wanna thank my car owner Vern Slagh, my crew chief Grady Humphries and all the volunteers that crewed the car," said Campbell in victory lane. "I've been lucky enough to win a lot of races here, but to beat these guys in their league here at my home track really means something."

Campbell, who started outside pole in the Van Eck Diesel Ford, lost the lead to Blount late in the race but got it back 22 laps from the finish when the experienced Battle Creek, Michigan driver put a move on Blount in lapped traffic in turn four. From there, Campbell fought off Blount and series point leader Frank Kimmel to earn the well-deserved victory.

While Campbell thrilled the locals with his masterful performance throughout, Blount put on quite a show himself after an altercation with Andy Belmont forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop for sheet metal repairs and four new tires. Blount, with his car torn up at both ends and a new attitude, stormed his way back into the lead from the tail-end of the lead lap cars. However, Blount's lead lasted just 11 laps before Campbell pinned him down in traffic and took control as the race neared its conclusion. Blount charged right back to challenge but couldn't find away around the crafty veteran and had to settle for second .158 seconds away.

Kimmel, who struggled most of the night with a loose condition, rebounded nicely after a series of pit stops helped cure his handling troubles and put him in position to challenge for the lead near the end. The current point leader, on fresher tires, raced his way back to the front in time to finish third in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford right on Blount's bumper.

Rookie Chris Moore, in only his second RE/MAX Series start, recovered from a turn one wall-banger late in the race to finish a solid fourth in the Thermo King/A-1 Masonry Ford. Mark Gibson, in his own unsponsored Ford Taurus, also recovered from an early-race spin to finish fifth.

In all, there were eight lead changes among four drivers while ten caution periods slowed the event for 50 of the 200 laps total. There were no injuries.

Blount, who won the Old Milwaukee Pole award, his fourth of the season, led the first 46 laps before Kimmel, who started fourth, took control. However Kimmel's lead was short-lived when Campbell wrestled it away on lap 50. Campbell led through lap 99 before opting for his one and only pit stop during a caution period. In doing so, Campbell forfeited the lead to Blount who had pitted much earlier along with front-runners Kimmel and Belmont. Blount led through lap 121 until Kimmel raced his way back into the lead for the next eight circuits. Then Billy Venturini, in the MC Sports Chevrolet, passed Kimmel for the lead and brought Gibson with him. Venturini and Gibson then staged an incredible door-to-door duel for the lead for 37 laps before Blount, who had fought back from the tail-end, charged around both with Campbell in tow. Blount had the fans on their feet and they stayed that way while Campbell made his winning pass late in the race. Blount also picked up the Loctite Halfway Leader award.

Chase Montgomery, sporting decals from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, finished a solid sixth in his first Berlin attempt with Soddy Daisy, Tennessee standout Ron Cox, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Chevrolet, trailing in seventh. Todd Bowsher, in the GFS Marketplace Ford, won the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award with his eighth place finishing position after starting 22nd. Randy VanZant survived eight stops on pit road to cure a variety of ailments to finish a respectable ninth in the Devers Truck Bodies Pontiac. Jason Jarrett, who started 19th, completed the top-ten finishers in the Biomet-Damon RV Pontiac. Venturini, after contact with another car, faded to 11th at the finish, the last car on the lead lap.

-arca-

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Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Chad Blount , Chase Montgomery , Jason Jarrett , Ron Cox , Mark Gibson , Todd Bowsher , Vern Slagh