Berlin Raceway race notes 2004-05-29

Youth Movement Tops Leaderboard at Berlin; Anderson, Shotko, Gebben take checkers MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway's "youth" took charge Saturday night, sweeping the three features and possibly providing a glimpse of future Berlin Raceway champions.

Youth Movement Tops Leaderboard at Berlin; Anderson, Shotko, Gebben take checkers

MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway's "youth" took charge Saturday night, sweeping the three features and possibly providing a glimpse of future Berlin Raceway champions. Seventeen-year-old Nick Gebben of Holland won the Standale Lumber Sportsman division, 23-year-old rookie Nick Shotko of Grand Rapids won the Engine Pro Super Stock feature and 29-year-old Lee Anderson of Walker won the Coors Light Late Model feature.

In the Standard Lumber Sportsman division, two crashes on the first lap delayed the official start of the race, but the third time was a charm as finally one full lap was completed under green. Another crash on lap 4 claimed rookie Chris Koslek, and after just 3 complete laps of the 29-lap race, eight cars were already retired from the race, including #15 Casey Berenbrock, who came into the race in third place in the points race. Most of the rest of the way was green flag racing, and two great battles developed on the track: #21 Terry Van Haitsma chased #4 Nick Gebben for the lead and #55 Dave Lake holding off #24 Lee VanDyk for third. Gebben and Lake held off the challengers, and second-year driver Gebben went on to take his first Powerflex Trophy presented by Hastings Manufacturing Co. sponsored by Engine Pro of the season. Van Haitsma, 24, finished second after three straight feature wins, followed by Lake, Van Dyk and #15 Scott Root. #88 Kirk Meissner won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 10 positions to finish 12th. Van Haitsma retains a solid 89-point lead over Lake in the points race.

In the 54-lap Coors Light Late Model feature, Anderson lost his power steering early and was forced to muscle his car around the .438-mile oval for nearly 40 laps on his way to his first Fel-Pro Trophy presented by The Federal Mogul Group sponsored by Engine Pro of the season. He got a break on lap 33 as #94 Greg Usher's car came to a stop on the backstretch, then on the restart #37 Terry Senneker crashed hard into the turn 3 wall. Ten laps later points leader #101 Joe Bush brought out the third caution, then on lap 48 #57 Rick Senneker spun on the frontstretch. 25-year-old #22 Brian Campbell made a late push for the lead, but Anderson hung on for victory. Campbell finished second, followed by #11 John Grega, #82 Tom Thomas and #47 Fred Campbell. #21 Brian Maxim advanced 12 positions to win the Valvoline Hard Charger award and the five bonus points. Thomas took over the points lead ahead of Bush, who finished 14th.

Nine cautions lengthened the 34-lap Engine Pro Super Stock feature to 49 minutes, but it was the most exciting finish of the evening as #9 Nick Shotko took the Clevite Trophy presented by The Dana Corp. sponsored by Engine Pro by a foot over #1 Brian Wiersma, who had led the first 33 laps of the race. Shotko pulled alongside Wiersma on the outside on the final straightaway coming to the checkers. The yellow flag started waving early, as top two qualifiers #71 Brandon Braisted and #42 Matt Piersma got into the turn 2 wall on the first lap. The hardest crash of the race was by Bob Bliss, who hit the turn 2 wall hard in a 4-car pile-up that damaged the catch-fence and forced the field to be red-flagged while fans were moved out of that seating section for safety reasons. It was the first win of Shotko's official rookie season, but the talented young driver won twice last season while retaining his rookie status in 2004 by racing just six times.

Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, June 5, for Standale Lumber Sportsman Night presented by Standale Lumber, a weekly show including a 50-lap Standale Lumber Sportsman feature. Coors Light Late Model and Engine Pro Super Stock divisions will also 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.

-www.berlinraceway.com-

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