Bush, Wiersma, Lake, Lane take checkers; Benson finishes third in Twin 40's MARNE, MI -- Berlin drivers Joe Bush, Brian Wiersma and Dave Lake were all repeat feature winners in their respective weekly divisions, while the visiting Auto Value ...
Bush, Wiersma, Lake, Lane take checkers; Benson finishes third in Twin 40's
MARNE, MI -- Berlin drivers Joe Bush, Brian Wiersma and Dave Lake were all repeat feature winners in their respective weekly divisions, while the visiting Auto Value Wolverine Outlaw Winged Midgets produced a first-time winner, 16-year-old A.J. Lane. It was Johnny Benson Night presented by Hooters of Grand Rapids and Aaron's at Berlin Raceway, and Benson scored his ninth top 5 finish in 13 races here since 2001.
An exciting new racing format was introduced in the Coors Light Late Model feature, with the 80 lap length broken into two twin 40-lap segments. Benson, #10, who started third, jumped out to the lead on the second lap, with #90 Cort Corwin running in second. The first segment was littered with yellow flags, beginning with lap 20, when #26 Chris Muyskens came to a halt on the backstretch. A total of seven cautions slowed the first segment. Benson held the lead until lap 39, when Corwin got past him on a restart.
After the first 40 laps, all cars came into the pits for a mandatory 5-minute pit stop, then after rolling out onto the frontstretch, the drivers who finished the first half drew random numbers from 1 to 10 to set their starting position for the second half. The random draw moved #101 Joe Bush of Hastings from ninth to first, followed by #12 Tim DeVos (up from sixth), #22 Brian Campbell (up from fifth), Corwin (down from first) and Benson (down from second) in the top five. Benson was strong again to start the second segment, moving up to third place by lap 46. DeVos took the lead from Bush on lap 60, but Bush grabbed it again for good on lap 69. The second segment went caution-free, and Bush became a 3-time winner of the Fel-Pro Trophy presented by The Federal Mogul Group sponsored by Engine Pro in the Coors Light Late Model division this season. DeVos finished second, followed by Benson, Campbell and #82 Tom Thomas, who recovered from a spin in the first segment. The top five positions in the point standings remained unchanged, with Bush leading #18 Lee Anderson by 43 points.
In the 25-lap Standale Lumber Sportsman feature, #55 Dave Lake of Howard City started on the pole and led every lap to win his third Powerflex Trophy presented by Hastings Manufacturing Co. sponsored by Engine Pro of the season. #24 Lee VanDyk started seventh and moved up to second by lap 10. VanDyk made a move to pass Lake on lap 16, but as he got by Lake, the two cars touched and VanDyk spun on the frontstretch, taking him out of contention. The second caution came out a lap later as #77 Andrew Nylaan spun from his fourth position. Caution slowed the race again on lap 20 as #21 Tim Greene spun on the backstretch. Lake went on to win, followed by #21 Terry Van Haitsma, $3 Nick Gebben, #15 Scott Root and #40 Dave Cutler. #15 Casey Berenbrock won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing nine positions to finish sixth. Van Haitsma retains his points lead by 168 points over Lake.
In the 30-lap Engine Pro Super Stock feature, points leader #1 Brian Wiersma showed his strength by picking off eight drivers to get to the lead. Wiersma took the lead from #9 Jerry Groeneveld, who was racing for the first time this season, on lap 22. Wiersma went on to win his second Clevite Trophy presented by The Dana Corp. sponsored by Engine Pro of the season, followed by Groeneveld, #98 Bob Bliss, #13 James Haney and #71 Dan VanderMolen. Wiersma's move to the front from ninth starting position earned him the Valvoline Hard Charger award. He retains his points lead by 94 points over Bliss.
The Auto Value Wolverine Outlaw Winged Midget Series made its first-ever appearance at Berlin Raceway Saturday, and provided the most exciting crash of the night. #4 Jake Meyerink of Alto, who competed in Berlin's Coors Light Late Model division in 2003, got high on the backstretch on lap 4 and lost control, spinning several times in his lightning-quick, 1100-pound midget car, before slamming into the foam barrier outside turn 3. Meyerink was unhurt. The 25-lap feature was won by 16-year-old A.J. Lane, his first-ever midget victory, followed by points leader #97 Ike Beasley, #71 Chris Hettinger, #7 Lee Anderson (who is a regular in the Coors Light Late Model division and was racing for the first time ever in the midget series), and #16 Tom Fedorczyk.
Racing action at Berlin Raceway will resume in two weeks, on Saturday night, July 31, for the 54th Anniversary Race - a weekly show plus the Vintage Racing Organization of America presented by Hudsonville Ice Cream with post-race fireworks. 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.