Berlin Raceway race notes 2003-07-12

Grega, Speet, VanDyk rule the night MARNE, MI -- John Grega drove like a Hall of Fame driver Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, and the soon-to-be-inducted driver took home the hardware to prove it. Grega, who will be inducted into the ...

Grega, Speet, VanDyk rule the night

MARNE, MI -- John Grega drove like a Hall of Fame driver Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, and the soon-to-be-inducted driver took home the hardware to prove it. Grega, who will be inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame this November, was one of two first-time winners this season, winning the Coors Light Late Model feature. Warren Speet of Hamilton, MI, also won for the first time this year in the Engine Pro Super Stock division, while Lee VanDyk of Grand Rapids, MI, chalked up his fifth Hitches By George Sportsman victory.

The Hitches By George Sportsman feature started with three quick cautions in the first five laps of the 25-lap race (#21 Terry VanHaitsma and #12 Steve Walters spun on lap 2; #49 Dave D'Avignon spun on lap 4 and #15 Casey Berenbrock and #22 Ken Roelofs off the backstretch on lap 4 restart), but the last 20 laps went caution free. #86 Ray Melinn started on the outside pole and led early, but #55 Dave Lake put the heat on him and on lap 12 Lake dove inside to take the lead. Shortly thereafter, Lake slowed as his #55 truck started smoking, which allowed #24 VanDyk to take the lead and never look back, going on to win his fifth Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex Trophy in 12 races. Lake recovered and held onto second place, while rookie Nick Gebben, last week's winner, finished third. #9 Mike Root and #86 Melinn rounded out the top 5. VanHaitsma won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing eight positions from start to finish. VanDyk nearly doubled his points lead over Mike Root to 62 points.

In the Engine Pro Super Stock division, points leader Ross Meeuwsen, who had won eight of the first 10 races of the season, had trouble early, getting into the back another car as the field slowed to take the caution for jumping the start of the race. Meeuwsen was black flagged after five laps with sheet metal rubbing on his left front tire, forcing him to pit to fix the damage. He was not a factor in the race, finishing in 18th, 12 laps down. The #98 car of Bob Bliss led from the first lap after starting in the second row. #76 Speet challenged for the lead on laps 19 and 20 before taking it on lap 21 and holding on for the last nine laps to win the Engine Pro Trophy for the second time in his two seasons in the Super Stock division. #71 Brandon Braisted finished second, followed by Bliss, #33 Jerry Groeneveld and #17 Craig Fricke. Groeneveld won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing eight positions from start to finish. Bliss cut into Meeuwsen's points lead, gaining 27 points on him, but Meeuwsen still holds a 96 point lead in the season standings.

In the Coors Light Late Model feature, #11 John Grega started on the pole, jumping out to a huge four-second lead by lap 13 and catching the back of the field by lap 15. Second place #79 Jake Meyerink was feeling pressure from #18 Keith Herp, who made the pass to move into second on lap 18. #55 Joe Mazie and #12 points leader Tim DeVos came around Meyerink on the next lap. DeVos got by Herp for second place on lap 24, then Mazie and #82 Tom Thomas got around Herp on the next lap as Herp's car faded after a strong showing in the first half of the race. The only caution of the race came out on lap 28 as #101 Joe Bush hit the frontstretch wall, allowing the field to catch up to Grega. But after the restart, Grega streched his lead again and went on to take his first Engine Pro/Federal Mogul Speed Pro trophy of the season. DeVos finished second, followed by Thomas, #1 Randy Sweet and Mazie. #11 Leroy Magoon won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 12 positions from start to finish. DeVos stretched his points lead over Bush, who finished 20th after the crash on the frontstretch, to a massive 217-point lead.

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 19, for a weekly points race presented by Powell Relocation Group. A near-sellout crowd is expected due to a large group outing booked by Gentex Corp. 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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