Berlin Raceway race notes 2003-06-14

MARNE, MI -- The Sunoco Super Series made its debut Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, putting on a 150-lap show presented by Georgetown Construction. The Midwestern touring series show, which competes in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee, was...

MARNE, MI -- The Sunoco Super Series made its debut Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, putting on a 150-lap show presented by Georgetown Construction. The Midwestern touring series show, which competes in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee, was won by current points leader Scott Hantz of Pleasant Lake, IN, but it was an impressive showing for several Berlin Raceway regulars. Ten-time Berlin Raceway track champion Fred Campbell of Battle Creek finished second after leading the most laps in the race, while Ross Meeuwsen of Zeeland, who races weekly in the Engine Pro Super Stock division, finished fourth, John Grega finished fifth and Brian Campbell finished seventh. Just eight cars of the 28-car field finished on the lead lap.

#47 Campbell took the lead for the first time on lap 21, holding it for 43 laps until #72 Hantz took over. Campbell claimed the lead back on lap 93, only to see Hantz take it back again. The two drivers battled back and forth all race long, but in the end it was Hantz who saw the checkered flag. Hudsonville's Andy Ponstein had a rough day Saturday, racing in the ARCA 200 at Michigan International Speedway, where he finished 31st after crashing on lap 67 of the 100-lap race, then flew to Berlin Raceway via helicopter only to land and learn that his Sunoco Super Series car was undriveable. Ponstein was able to borrow a car for the feature, but managed to finish only 42 laps before retiring from the race. He finished last, in 28th place.

Two of Berlin's weekly series raced as well. In the 30-lap Engine Pro Super Stock feature, #32 Ross Meeuwsen, who had won five of the six Super Stock features this season, had an uncharacteristic 16th place qualifying effort, forcing him to start near the back of the 19-car field. Two early cautions slowed the race, and rookie #02 Jimmy TenBrink held the lead ahead of #17 Craig Fricke, #36 Dan Groeneveld and #98 Bob Bliss early in the race. Bliss was on the move, passing Groeneveld on lap 9 and then Fricke for second on lap 13. Meeuwsen had passed half the field for eighth place by the half-way point.

Bliss took the lead on lap 19, then caution came out on lap 22 as #17 Fricke, running in third place, spun with fifth place #52 Jim Idema in turn 4. Caution again on the restart as division powerhouses #X Ray Clay and Meeuwsen spun on the backstretch, sending both cars to the back of the field. Groeneveld challenged TenBrink for second on lap 25 and made the pass for position on lap 26, then a hard crash on lap 27 as rookie #71 Brandon Braisted broke an axle on the frontstretch, losing a wheel and swerving into the turn 1 wall, flipping the car and landing upside down. Braisted was quickly out of his car, unhurt. After a lengthy red flag, the field went green again for the final three laps, and Bliss held on to win the Engine Pro/Mike Marks Pro Shop Trophy ahead of TenBrink, Groeneveld, Idema and #77 John Smith Sr. Meeuwsen won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing from 16th all the way to sixth in the feature. The top nine points positions stay the same, with Meeuwsen on top but Bliss closing the gap by 30 points.

In the 25-lap Hitches By George Sportsman feature, #9 Mike Root got loose and squirrely going into turn 1 of the second lap, but managed to save it from going around. Meanwhile #45 Sean Gipson checked up and spun, collecting #49 Dave D'Avignon, #75 Bob Swanson, #25 Scott Root and #15 Dave Hull. The #4 truck of 16-year-old Nick Gebben of Holland, MI, took the lead on lap 10 ahead of #1 Randy Veldman and #77 Andrew Nylaan, managing to stretch his lead to a full straightaway within five laps of taking the lead. A Caution flag flew on lap 24 as the lapped car of #89 Kirk Meissner spun on the frontstretch. Points leader #24 Lee VanDyk steadily marched forward, passing #21 Terry Van Haitsma for fourth place just before the caution then passing Nylaan at the finish line as Nylaan failed his struggle to avoid spinning as he crossed the finish line. Gebben charged to the finish line to win the Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex Trophy, his first of the season. Veldman finished second, followed by VanDyk, Nylaan and #55 Dave Lake. Rookie #30 Zach Dunson won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing from last place up 12 positions to finish 10th. The top eight points positions stay the same, with VanDyk leading Mike Root by 70 points.

Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, June 21, on Hitches By George Sportsman night. The Sportsman division will run a special 50-lap feature, in addition to Engine Pro Super Stock (30 laps) and Coors Light Late Model (50 laps) 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.

-br-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Andy Ponstein