Berlin Raceway race report 2002-09-07

Sweet claims fifth victory; Root, Bliss also win; Berlin now looks forward to Sept. 10 memorial race MARNE, MI - Randy Sweet claimed his fifth victory of the season in the Coors Light Late Model feature Saturday night at Berlin...

Sweet claims fifth victory; Root, Bliss also win; Berlin now looks forward to Sept. 10 memorial race

MARNE, MI - Randy Sweet claimed his fifth victory of the season in the Coors Light Late Model feature Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, propelling himself from sixth to third in the point standings with just two points races to go. Bob Bliss won his second Engine Pro Super Stock feature and Scott Root won his second MTA Sportsman feature.

In the MTA Sportsman feature, #16 Jamie Gritter started on the pole and led the first two laps but faded quickly after that. #6 Terry Bockheim took the lead on lap 3 and held it for 10 laps, when Root slid underneath Bockheim in turn 3 to take the lead on lap 13.#24 Lee VanDyk took second from Bockheim on lap 20, then set his sights on Root as the two ran bumper-to-bumper on laps 23 and 24. VanDyk managed to pull alongside Root on the backstretch of lap 25 but Root, of Sparta, powered ahead to claim the checkered flag, his second win in three weeks. The 25-lap race was caution-free and lasted just 8 minutes, 21 seconds, the fastest feature race of the season.VanDyk finished second, followed by #55 David Lake, Bockheim and #89 Kirk Meissner. #9 Mike Root remains the points leader.

In the Engine Pro Super Stock feature, #98 Bob Bliss of Dorr took the lead on the first lap from pole-sitter #3 Ross Eppink, who was celebrating his 48th birthday. Bliss, Eppink, #51 Scott Otterbein, # 52 Jim Idema and #32 Ross Meeuwsen raced single file through the half-way point of the 30-lap race, while the best battle on the track was between #26 Chris Muyskens and #42 Matt Piersma for sixth (Muyskens took the position on lap 13). Caution came out on lap 14 as #33 Jerry Groeneveld spun in turn 4 after making light contact with #X Ray Clay. Another quick caution flew on the lap 14 restart as Clay slowed with a flat tire. A final caution slowed the race on lap 18 as #76 Warren Speet and #8 Billy Eppink spun, then the race stayed green the rest of the way as Bliss led all 30 laps to capture the victory. Otterbein finished second, followed by Ross Eppink, Idema and Muyskens. Clay continues to lead the points race by a margin of 160 points.

In the Coors Light Late Model feature, #79 rookie Jake Meyerink took the lead on the first lap from pole-sitter #16 Jack Gritter. The front cars stretched out early, with Meyerink leading Gritter by seven car lengths and Gritter ahead of third-place #22 Brian Campbell by 10 car lengths. #82 Tom Thomas challenged Campbell for third early in the race, while #1 Randy Sweet charged from his seventh starting position into fifth with points leader #47 Fred Campbell following on his tail. The top 10 positions stayed the same until lap 22, when Thomas passed Brian Campbell for third after the two cars ran most of the completed laps side-by-side. Campbell took the position back on lap 23, but the two drivers spun on lap 25 after they made light contact in turn 3, bringing out the first caution of the 50-lap race. The spin occurred in front of a crowd of cars but disaster was averted as all the cars made it through without contact.

Caution came out for a second time on lap 25 restart as #94 Greg Usher slowed on the backstretch. The next attempt at a lap 25 restart was successful, as Meyerink again jumped to a big lead, but Sweet moved from fourth to second on lap 26 and was clearly the fastest car on the track. At the lap 30 mark, Meyerink was leading, followed by Sweet, Fred Campbell, #11 John Grega, Gritter, #11 Leroy Magoon and #12 Tim DeVos. Gritter, DeVos and Magoon waged a tight battle, with Magoon taking the fifth position on lap 34. Meanwhile, Sweet was closing in on Meyerink, trailing by just a few car lengths. Caution came out on lap 36 as #1 Brian Wiersma spun in turn 3. On the restart, Meyerink made a valiant effort to hold the lead, but Sweet was too strong. On lap 43, Sweet pulled alongside Meyerink and bumped his inside rear quarter panel, shaking Meyerink loose and taking the position from the slowing 79 car. Meyerink fell back to seventh place as Sweet took his fifth checkered flag of the season. Fred Campbell continues to lead in the points race, but Sweet moved up three positions to third and is just two points behind second place Joe Bush.

Berlin Raceway will be back in action on Tuesday, September 10, hosting the re-scheduled Chris Bradley Memorial 100, a Coors Light Late Model 100-lap feature that pays $20,000 to win, the highest winner payout for a Late Model race in Michigan state history. The race will be NASCAR Winston Cup driver Johnny Benson's final appearance at Berlin Raceway this season. Tickets are $21 in advance and $22 at the gate for general admission and $25 for pit passes.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Johnny Benson