Berlin Raceway race notes 2003-06-28

DeVos claims victory on Benson's final visit Points leaders in all four division take checkered flags MARNE, MI (June 28) -- A dismal start to the day ended in a brilliant fireworks display, capping off an evening of exciting racing at ...

DeVos claims victory on Benson's final visit
Points leaders in all four division take checkered flags

MARNE, MI (June 28) -- A dismal start to the day ended in a brilliant fireworks display, capping off an evening of exciting racing at Berlin Raceway Saturday, as 5,734 fans waited out afternoon thunderstorms to see Johnny Benson's final visit to Berlin in 2003. The Auto Value Super Sprints also came to town for the first of two visits this season.

Qualifying for all four divisions was washed out, forcing drivers to start in order of points (with a roll of the dice inversion). That was bad news for NASCAR Winston Cup driver Johnny Benson, who needed a provisional to make the Coors Light Late Model 50-lap feature field and started last, in 27th position. But Benson's car was strong, and after hanging back for three laps as the cars thinned out to single file, he started his march to the front, passing three cars in two laps and five more in the next five laps. #79 Jake Meyerink started on the pole but gave way quickly to #11 John Grega. On lap 18, #82 Tom Thomas of Grandville took the lead, while points leader #12 Tim DeVos of Rockford moved up from seventh to fourth by lap 21. The first caution flag came out at the halfway point for an incident involving Meyerink, #26 Chris Muyskens and #1 Randy Sweet. By that point Benson had moved up to 11th position.

Benson cracked the top 10 on the next lap; meanwhile near the front DeVos was challenging #101 Joe Bush for second place, racing side-by-side for several laps before a caution on lap 31 for a spin by #57 Rick Senneker and #55 Joe Mazie on the backstretch. Benson restarted in eighth place and was all over the rear bumper of the #88 of Tim Yonker, finally making the pass to move into seventh place. He then took on #28 Scott Thomas, grabbing the sixth position from him on lap 38. Grega was next to go, as Benson took fifth place on lap 41. Thomas and DeVos were putting on a show at the front of the field, and Campbell and Bush were creating their own excitement with side-by-side racing for third position. On the white flag lap, the leaders approached the #15 of Brian Maxim, and DeVos went low as Thomas went high around Maxim. In turn 4 of the final lap, DeVos and Thomas both cars came back towards the center of the track and bumped, sending Thomas into the wall. The final lap restart was a sprint to the finish, but neither Benson nor anyone else in the field was able to make a move, and DeVos claimed the Engine Pro/Federal Mogul Speed Pro trophy for the fourth time this season. Bush finished second, followed by #22 Brian Campbell, Benson and Grega. Benson was named the Valvoline Hard Charger for advancing 23 positions in the feature. DeVos maintains his stronghold on the points lead by 119 points over Bush.

The Engine Pro Super Stock feature proved to be another strong showing for points leader Ross Meeuwsen, who claimed his seventh Engine Pro/Mike Marks Pro Shop Trophy in nine points races. Meeuwsen started 10th and moved up to sixth position by lap 10. He took the lead for good on lap 22 of the 30-lap feature and went on to win by a 1.6 second margin. Four rookies finished in the top five, as #10 Jay Gipson, #5 Jack Drolema Jr., #71 Brandon Braisted and #29 Steve Sunde rounded out the top 5. Meeuwsen also won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing nine positions, and now leads Bob Bliss by 107 points on the season.

In the 25-lap Hitches By George Sportsman feature, points leader #24 Lee VanDyk started seventh but quickly moved up two positions into the top 5 by lap 3. After a caution four laps in for a spin by #12 Steve Walters, the action on the track was between positions 4-7 as #55 Dave Lake, VanDyk, #9 Mike Root and #25 Scott Root battled for position. VanDyk grabbed the fourth position on lap 9, and going into turn 1 he made it three wide below #1 Randy Veldman and #86 Ray Melinn. The three cars got together and Melinn spun to bring out the second caution of the race. Meanwhile, leader #40 Dave Cutler headed for the pits, handing over the lead to Veldman. Back to green flag action, and Veldman was overpowered by VanDyk, who took the lead on lap 9. Caution came out again on lap 12 as Veldman and #21 Terry VanHaitsma got together, collecting the #45 truck of Sean Gipson.

As the race resumed, the action settled down to single-file racing for the first six positions, with VanDyk extending his lead to a straightaway. He maintained that lead for the rest of the race, taking home the Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex Trophy for the fourth time this season ahead of Lake, Scott Root, Mike Root and #30 Zach Dunson. Rookie #71 Kyle Ballard won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 11 positions from 21st to 11th. VanDyk's points lead over Mike Root grew to 71 points.

In the visiting Auto Value Super Sprints' 30-lap feature race, Tom Fedewa of Leslie, MI, won his fifth feature in nine races, beating out Kevin Newton. Fedewa holds Berlin Raceway's record for fastest lap, clocked at 13.080 seconds (120.23 mph), set in 2001. He is the series points leader.

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

Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, July 5, for a weekly points race. Coors Light Late Model, Engine Pro Super Stock and Hitches By George Sportsman divisions will compete. 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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About this article
Series Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Johnny Benson