Berlin Raceway race report 2001-06-23

Thomas wins Late Model Feature; Keltner claims fourth Super Stock victory MARNE, MI ­ Tom Thomas drove to victory in convincing style in Saturday night's Late Model feature, leading the final 37 laps of the 50-lap event to take his second Late...

Thomas wins Late Model Feature;
Keltner claims fourth Super Stock victory

MARNE, MI ­ Tom Thomas drove to victory in convincing style in Saturday night's Late Model feature, leading the final 37 laps of the 50-lap event to take his second Late Model feature win of the 2001 season.

In the Sportsman division, Dave Lewis of Cedar Springs claimed his first-ever feature victory, and in the Super Stock division, defending series champion Matt Keltner of Newaygo took his fourth feature win of the season.

In the Late Model feature, 18-year-old Adam Chase of Coopersville started from the pole and led the first two laps before fading from the leaderboard. Comstock Park's Greg Usher, in the 94 car, took the lead for the next 13 laps, then it was all Thomas, driving the #82 car.

Cautions on Lap 21 for a spin into the turn 3 & 4 wall by pole-sitter #61 Chase, on Lap 22 for a long, lazy frontstretch spin by #22 Brian Campbell and finally on Lap 35 for a two-car tangle on the frontstretch by #30 Brian Clay and #17 Greg Zimmerman didn't deter Thomas, who moves up two positions to second in the season point standings behind Fred Campbell of Battle Creek.

Bob Holley in car #71 finished second, followed by #47 Campbell, #1 Randy Sweet, #21 Lee Anderson and Tom's brother Scott Thomas, #28, in sixth. Anderson was the fastest qualifier, at 15.75 seconds (100.000 mph). Heat race (Australian Pursuits) winners were Greg Zimmerman, Leroy Magoon and Jerry Weavers Sr.

The Super Stock feature was slowed by an 8-car pile-up between Turns 3 and 4 which knocked four cars out of the race. The race was red-flagged to clean up the mess. Cars involved included #8 Billy Eppink (eliminated) and #X Ray Clay, who were running in second and third place at the time, and eventual winner #97 Keltner.

A spin on Lap 4 brought out a short caution period, then a hard wreck into the Turn 1 wall by #42 Matt Piersma on Lap 8 slowed the race for the third time. The 30-lap contest finished under caution as the #9 of Jeff Hennip spun at the start-finish line.

John Smith Sr. in the #77 car finished second, followed by #64 Eding, #26 Chris Muyskins and #98 Bob Bliss. Muyskins was the Super Stock fastest qualifier, at 17.471 seconds (90.149 mph). Heat race (Australian Pursuits) winners were Hennip and Eding.

Keltner, who won the points championship in 2000 without a single feature win, claimed his fourth checkered flag (the first three were consecutive victories on May 5, May 9 and May 12). He remains second in the points standings behind the consistent Eding, who has not finished below sixth in a feature or below fourth in qualifying this season (points are awarded for both qualifying and feature finishes).

The 25-lap Sportsman feature was slowed by just two single-car cautions, a Lap 4 spin by #17 Alan Fricke and a Lap 16 spin by #71 Dan Vandermolen. The 34-year-old Lewis, driving the #36, claimed the first feature win of his four-year career at Berlin.

The #66 car of Joe Dochod finished second, followed by #36 Todd Senneker, #55 Dave Lake and points leader #27 Billy Shotko, who was the fastest qualifier, at 19.177 seconds (82.130 mph). Heat race (Australian Pursuits) winners were Mike Root, Steve Sunde, Howard Litaker and Mike Gebben, a one-time entry driving a car he rented from Vern Slagh for the evening. Terry Bockheim won the consolation race.

Johnny Benson returns to Berlin Raceway next Saturday night, June 30, to run in the Late Model events. Also appearing next week are the Auto Value Winged Super Sprints, followed by post-race fireworks. Tickets for June 30 are $15 for general admission and $20 for pit passes. Children 5-12 are $5 and children 4 and under are free. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the first race begins at 7 p.m.

Australian Pursuits are a variation on regular heat races where, after taking the green flag in single-file formation, each car that is completely passed by the car behind it is immediately eliminated. It is not uncommon to end a 10-lap pursuit with only two or three cars still racing.

-BR-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Johnny Benson , Vern Slagh , Alan Frick