Berlin Raceway review 2002-06-29

Super Sprints, Benson, Fireworks make a super evening at Berlin Raceway, MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway fans enjoyed a holiday fireworks show Saturday night, capping a packed and exciting night of racing action. The crowd of 6,224 saw a different...

Super Sprints, Benson, Fireworks make a super evening at Berlin Raceway,

MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway fans enjoyed a holiday fireworks show Saturday night, capping a packed and exciting night of racing action. The crowd of 6,224 saw a different Engine Pro Super Stock car in the winner's circle for the first time since May 18, as Dorr's Bob Bliss broke Zeeland's Ross Meeuwsen's streak of four straight wins. In addition, a rookie took the checkers in the MTA Sportsman division, Johnny Benson was on hand to compete in a 75-lap Coors Light Late Model feature and the Auto Value Super Sprints, the fastest cars to race at Berlin Raceway, made their first of two appearances at the track this season.

In the MTA Sportsman feature, rookie #55 Chris Anthony charged to the lead on lap 24 of the 25-lap race and, one lap later, took the first checkered flag of his career. The 19-year-old rookie from Grand Rapids won in only his 10th attempt at Berlin. Just one caution slowed the 25-lap feature, a four-car crash involving #45 Sean Gipson, #31 Mike Bursley, #12 Phil Greene and #89 Kirk Meissner between turns 1 and 2 on lap 12.

The #9 truck of Mike Root finished second, followed by #15 Scott Root, who led until near the end of the race. #24 Lee VanDyk finished fourth and #55 Dave Lake finished fifth. Mike Root retained his points lead, while #19 Nick Shotko, who finished sixth in the race, moved into second place behind Lake in points. Anthony gained two positions to seventh place in points. Anthony also won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by moving up nine positions from start to finish in the race.

In the Engine Pro Super Stock feature, #97 Matt Keltner caused the first caution and subsequent red flag condition on lap 3 as he drove off the backstretch and into the foam barrier. #29 Steve Sunde spun for the second caution on lap 9, and #9 Jeff Hennip spun in turn 2 on lap 20 for the third caution. Then on lap 21, three cars collided to cause the only hard crash of the race. #33 Jerry Groeneveld, #42 Matt Piersma and #32 Ross Meeuwsen, the points leader and winner of the last four straight races, were involved. Meeuwsen was able to continue and finished on the lead lap, but the other two cars were done for the night.

The #98 car of Bob Bliss, who had taken the lead on the lap 9 restart, led the final 21 laps of the 30-lap feature and beat out points runner-up #X Ray Clay by inches at the checkered flag for the win, then slid sideways into turn 1 after securing the win. The victory was his first as a Super Stock after moving up from the Sportsman division in 2001. Bliss won the 1999 Sportsman track championship. #51 Scott Otterbein finished third, his career best, followed by #26 Chris Muyskens and #14 Jon Arendsen. Sunde won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing the most positions from start to finish­he advanced 10 positions from 16th to 6th in spite of his early spin. Meeuwsen still leads in the points race, but Clay cut his lead by more than half and now trails by just 25 points.

The Coors Light Late Model 75-lap feature finished caution-free in just 21 minutes 19 seconds. #10 Benson qualified 11th but started the race from the pole position due to the inversion of the top 11 drivers. He led the first lap, then gave up the lead to #101 Joe Bush. #12 Tim DeVos passed Benson for the second position, and the top three positions stayed that way until lap 32 when DeVos moved into the lead. On lap 38, #1 Randy Sweet passed Benson for third position. Meanwhile, DeVos showed his strength and control, splitting two cars to go three wide and completing the pass as #49 Dave Sensiba, on the outside, backed out of the gas.

The #88 car of Tim Yonker, the fastest qualifier, passed Benson on lap 58 for fourth place, then near the end Benson was shuffled back one more position to sixth as #11 Leroy Magoon passed him. DeVos led the most laps on his way to his second feature win of the season, which moved him up three positions to sixth in the points battle. Bush finished second, followed by Sweet, Yonker and Magoon. #82 Tom Thomas won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by moving up 12 positions. Thomas fell to third in the points behind a disappointing qualifying effort. Sweet retains his points lead, followed by Bush, who moved up one position, and Thomas.

The Auto Value Super Sprints were also in action at Berlin Raceway. The lightning-quick open-wheel winged cars are the fastest to race at Berlin. 63-year-old Hank Lower of Angola, Indiana, was the fastest qualifier, putting in a lap of 13.175 seconds or 119.681 mph. Tim Cox of Park City, Illinois, won the 30-lap feature race, followed by Bill Tyler, Kevin Feeney and Tommy Fedewa, who last year set Berlin Raceway's track record for fastest lap at 13.060 (120.23 mph).

Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, July 6, with a weekly show of Coors Light Late Model, Engine Pro Super Stock and MTA Sportsman divisions. 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