Berlin Raceway race notes 2003-07-26

Lake dedicates emotional win to daughter; Meeuwsen wins record 10th Super Stock feature MARNE, MI -- Dave Lake's first win of the 2003 season couldn't have come at a better time. Just two days before Saturday's 53rd Anniversary Night at Berlin...

Lake dedicates emotional win to daughter; Meeuwsen wins record 10th Super Stock feature

MARNE, MI -- Dave Lake's first win of the 2003 season couldn't have come at a better time. Just two days before Saturday's 53rd Anniversary Night at Berlin Raceway, Lake's 11-month-old daughter Alyssa underwent open heart surgery to patch a hole in her heart. She came through surgery successfully, and dad Lake gave her a boost by dedicating his first Hitches By George Sportsman feature win of the season to her. Lake, the 2002 Sportsman most popular driver and points runner-up, stopped his #55 truck in turn 4 of his victory lap and climbed the catch fence Helio Castroneves-style to celebrate with the 6,042 fans. In the track's other two divisions, Ross Meeuwsen of Zeeland broke the Engine Pro Super Stock track record with his 10th victory of the season, and Tom Thomas of Grandville won for the second time in the Coors Light Late Model division.

Lake started the Hitches By George Sportsman feature in fifth position and took the lead from #71 Dan VanderMolen on lap 9. Two cautions had already occurred, for spins by #9 Mike Root on lap 7 and #49 Dave D'Avignon and #22 Ken Roelofs on lap 8 - just the tip of the iceberg in the crash-filled 25-lap race. Fast qualifier rookie #21 Terry VanHaitsma and points leader #24 Lee VanDyk were on the move, up three positions from their seventh and eighth place starting positions by lap 12. On lap 14, VanDyk got a run on VanHaitsma going into turn one but got sideways, saving a spin but slowing in the process. #25 Scott Root took advantage of the opportunity to get around VanDyk for fifth position. Three laps later Root spun alone for the third caution of the race, then two more incidents in two laps brought out caution flags before the big wreck of the night, a multiple-car pile-up hard into the frontstretch outside retaining wall involving VanHaitsma, VanDyk, #15 Casey Berenbrock and Root. No one was injured, and after a red flag stopped the race for clean-up, a dash for the finish line ensued. Lake, of Howard City, took the checkered flag for his first Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex Trophy of the season, followed by pole-sitter VanderMolen. The next several positions jumbled as a final multiple-car spin at the finish line dropped #86 Ray Melinn, who had run in third most of the race, down to a seventh place finish. #4 Nick Gebben finished third and won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by moving up 11 positions from his 14th starting position. #9 Mike Root, who went to the back of the field on lap 7 after his spin brought out the caution flag, came all the way back through the field to finish fourth, and #1 Randy Veldman rounded out the top five. After Lake's celebratory climb of the turn 4 fence, he dedicated the emotional win to his daughter in his winner's circle interview. VanDyk maintained the points lead, but lost ground to Mike Root, who sits just 36 points behind VanDyk. Lake is third in points, just 76 out of the lead.

In the Engine Pro Super Stock feature, points leader Ross Meeuwsen was on a mission, starting seventh and picking off the top six cars quickly to take the lead on lap 15. Four cautions marred the 30-lap race, three of them involving rookie #5 Jack Drolema Jr., before Meeuwsen crossed the finish line to collect his 10th Engine Pro Trophy of the season, a record number of wins in the nine-year old mid-level division. #8 Billy Eppink turned in another solid performance, finishing second, followed by #77 John Smith Sr., #3 Ross Eppink and #29 Steve Sunde. It was the second straight week and the second time in their careers that the father-son team of Ross and Billy Eppink both finished in the top 5, finishing fourth and second, respectively, both weeks. Meeuwsen nearly doubled his points lead over second-place Bob Bliss, who crashed his car in a heat race and was forced to borrow the #8 car of Paul Schaffer for the feature to stay alive in the points. Bliss finished 15th.

In the Coors Light Late Model 50-lap feature, the frontstretch outside retaining wall got more abuse as #90 Cort Corwin slammed it on lap 8 for the first caution and #55 Chris Anthony and #222 Caleb Bisacky hit the same spot hard four laps later. #82 Tom Thomas and #11 Leroy Magoon raced side by side through the half-way point, but Thomas held off last week's winner to stay in the lead and went on to win the Engine Pro/Federal Mogul Speed Pro trophy for the second time this season. Magoon finished second, followed by #94 Greg Usher, who posted a career-best third place finish. #101 Joe Bush finished fourth and points leader #12 Tim DeVos finished fifth. #37 Terry Senneker won the Valvoline Hard Charger award after transferring into the feature from the Last Chance Race, advancing 17 positions to finish ninth. DeVos leads Bush by 172 in the season point standings.

In the visiting Vintage Racing Organization feature, #82 Tom Boorsma claimed the checkered flag ahead of #3 Rich Jackson and #84 Jack Gritter. And perhaps the most exciting race of the evening was the Hero's Sprint, a gentleman's race featuring former Berlin Raceway standouts who helped shape the history of Berlin Raceway and were racing in Vintage cars tonight in celebration of the track's 53rd Anniversary. The eight-lap shootout ended with #76 Gail Cobb holding off #3 Ralph Baker after a fierce battle that brought the roaring crowd to its feet.

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

The American Speed Association makes a visit to Berlin Raceway next Saturday night, July 26, for the Meijer 250 presented by BFGoodrich. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate for general admission and $50 for pit passes. Children 12 and under are free. Gates open at 11 a.m., pre-race festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. and the race gets under way at 9 p.m.

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