Berlin Raceway race report 2001-08-15

Thomas steals the show at Mysliwiec Memorial race Benson, Schrader make history for Berlin Raceway MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway made history Wednesday night, but it was local driver Tom Thomas who stole the show (and the $10,000 top ...

Thomas steals the show at Mysliwiec Memorial race
Benson, Schrader make history for Berlin Raceway

MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway made history Wednesday night, but it was local driver Tom Thomas who stole the show (and the $10,000 top prize).

Winston Cup drivers Johnny Benson and Kenny Schrader raced in Wednesday's Chester Mysliwiec Open Invitational Memorial race, marking the first time in track history that two current Winston Cup drivers competed in the same event. But neither driver turned out to be a factor in the trophy chase, as Berlin regular Tom Thomas of Grandville was the class of the field, running away with the victory.

Thomas, a three-time winner this season at Berlin who stands third in Late Model points, won his 50-lap qualifying race in convincing style, then did the same in the 100-lap feature race. After starting on the pole and battling early with Walker's Lee Anderson, Thomas took the lead for good just past the half-way point and never looked back. He built up a big lead which was cushioned by several lapped cars and won by a 5.362-second margin. The bigger battle was for second place, and in the end it was ASA driver Butch Miller of Coopersville who claimed that spot. Kalamazoo's Randy Sweet snuck into the third spot after spending most of the race battling Schrader (in an identical Sweet-owned Devrou-sponsored red #1 - the only difference was the taped-on number 36) for seventh position. Anderson finished fourth and Tim DeVos finished fifth.

Schrader, who put on an impressive show in his 50-lap qualifier by starting 15th and moving up to a fifth-place finish, couldn't put away his car owner, Sweet, and eventually finished in seventh place.

Benson, a part-owner of the track who was making his fourth appearance of the season, retired on lap 74 when he ran out of tires and finished 24th. He started the race in seventh place and was running in sixth when he left the track.

Four caution flags were thrown in the race - an early spin in turn 3, a second yellow on lap 69, the third on lap 94 for a spin by Bob Curry in turn 4 and a final caution on lap 95 for a spin by Brian Wiersma on the backstretch.

In the first 50-lap Late Model qualifier, Thomas finished first, followed by Tim Yonker, Anderson, Benson and Sweet. In the second qualifier, Devos led Chad Blount, Miller, Holley and Schrader to the line.

Berlin¹s Sportsman division also raced, and Mike Root came away with the victory. Finishing second in the non-points event was Ryan Hamm, followed by Kirk Meissner, Terry Bockheim and Nick Shotko.

The 100-lap feature race was a tribute to Berlin Raceway founder Chester Mysliwiec, who passed away in 1999. The Mysliwiec family owned Berlin Raceway Inc. for 50 years. The $10,000-to-win ($70,000 total purse) open invitational, sponsored by Comerica, also served as a fundraiser for the Berlin 4-H program. A check for $8,416, equalling one dollar for every ticket sold, was presented to the Berlin 4-H program before the race.

Regular-season racing will resume at Berlin Raceway next Saturday night, August 18. The three regular racing divisions ­ Sportsman, Super Stock and Late Model ­ will take the track. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the first race begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $20 for pit passes. Children 5-12 are $5 and children 4 and under are free.

-BR-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Johnny Benson , Chad Blount , Butch Miller