Berlin Raceway race report 2003-08-16

Bush, Speet, Lake chalk up victories; Meeuwsen, Groeneveld involved in horrific wreck MARNE, MI -- Joe Bush (Coors Light Late Model), Warren Speet (Engine Pro Super Stock) and Dave Lake (Hitches By George Sportsman) each earned their second ...

Bush, Speet, Lake chalk up victories; Meeuwsen, Groeneveld involved in horrific wreck

MARNE, MI -- Joe Bush (Coors Light Late Model), Warren Speet (Engine Pro Super Stock) and Dave Lake (Hitches By George Sportsman) each earned their second checkered flag of the season Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, but it was a nasty wreck in the Super Stock division that was the talk of the evening for every one of the 5,386 fans in attendance.

The wreck occurred on lap 19 of the 30-lap Engine Pro Super Stock feature, as #76 Warren Speet took the lead from #33 Jerry Groeneveld, squeezing Groeneveld against the frontstretch outside wall at the start-finish in the process. As Groeneveld got squirrely and slowed to straighten out, third-place #32 Ross Meeuwsen saw his opening and pulled alongside Groeneveld for second place. Groeneveld, still out of shape, brushed Meeuwsen, and the two cars careened into the Turn 1 wall. Both cars ran up into the catch-fence, completely above the wall, before slamming to a stop sideways against the wall - both with drivers doors on the ground. Groeneveld's car burst into flames as the safety crew sped to the scene. Both drivers managed to climb through the passenger doors to safety. Groeneveld was transported to the hospital for observation with some aches and pains, but both drivers are, remarkably, largely unhurt.

The Super Stock feature was a crash-fest before the big one, with three crashes - two causing lengthy red flag stoppages - in the first two laps. The first red flag came when #17 Craig Fricke flew over the backstretch in turn 3 on the first lap, landing on top of the tire barrier. The second was for a huge pile-up on lap 2 involving 10 cars as polesitter #8 Billy Eppink got into the back end of fast qualifier #19 Nick Szotko in turns 3 and 4. Hardest hit were #98 Bob Bliss, #29 Steve Sunde and Szotko. Groeneveld led the first lap but Speet took the lead on the lap 2 restart, while Meeuwsen made quick work of the field, moving from seventh to third early. Caution came out on lap 15 as #5 TJ Westveld got into #3 Ross Eppink on the backstretch, causing Eppink to spin. After getting back on the track, Eppink retaliated by deliberately spinning Westveld under the caution, earning a black flag for his aggression. The next incident came on lap 19, as Westveld hit #2 Jimmy Tenbrink in turn 1, collecting Billy Eppink and Braisted in the process. It was Westveld's turn to be penalized with a black flag for aggressive driving. The big crash was next, on the lap 19 restart. Just 10 cars remained on the track to finish the last 11 laps, with Speet, of Hamilton, MI, claiming his second Engine Pro trophy of the season ahead of #13 James Haney, #52 Jim Idema, #14 Jon Arendsen and #3 Ross Eppink. The race took 51 minutes to complete. Meeuwsen, the runaway points leader, was scored 12th but managed to increase his points lead to 258 over #98 Bob Bliss, who finished 25 laps down in 16th place.

In the Hitches By George Sportsman feature, Lake took the lead on lap 2 of the 25-lap race and held it through mid-race. #4 Nick Gebben erased a 7-second deficit in a 5-lap stretch through the middle of the race by taking over the lead on lap 15, and it looked like he would hold on for the win. But Howard City's Lake passed Gebben at the start-finish line with two laps to go, and as the two cars rubbed, sheet metal from one of them flew onto the track and caused a caution, slowing down the pace for the fifth time of the race. The final dash for the finish was won by Dave "Castroneves" Lake, who climbed the fence as he always does in celebration of his second points race win (third overall) of the season. While Lake walked away with the Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex trophy, Gebben finished second, followed by #9 Mike Root, #1 Randy Veldman and #24 Lee VanDyk. Root shaved another 5 points off VanDyk's points lead, which is now a slim 16-point margin with just four points races to go.

In the final race of the evening, the Coors Light Late Model feature, #37 Terry Senneker was the surprise dominator early. Senneker, in just his sixth feature of the season, started from the pole position and held the lead despite constant pressure from #94 Greg Usher for the first 36 laps of the 50-lap event. But a caution on lap 36 for a spin by #55 Chris Anthony and #9 Jeff Hennip in turn 4 allowed #101 Joe Bush of Hasting to mount a challenge, and he capitalized by taking the lead on the restart and going on to win his second Engine Pro/Federal Mogul Speed Pro trophy of the season ahead of Senneker, Usher, #22 Brian Campbell and #88 Yonker in a race that took less than half the time of the Super Stock feature and had just 3 cautions. #12 Tim DeVos, who finished seventh, holds a 177-point lead over Bush in the season standings.

Complete race results and point standings can be found online at www.berlinraceway.com.

With just five races to go in 2003, Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, August 23, for a weekly points race presented by Woodland International. Coors Light Late Model, Engine Pro Super Stock and Hitches By George Sportsman divisions will 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.

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