Berlin Raceway race report

MARNE, MI -- Dave Lake was the happiest man inside the half-mile Berlin Raceway oval Saturday night after beating points leader and rival Lee VanDyk for the victory in the Hitches by George Sportsman feature one week after getting caught up in a...

MARNE, MI -- Dave Lake was the happiest man inside the half-mile Berlin Raceway oval Saturday night after beating points leader and rival Lee VanDyk for the victory in the Hitches by George Sportsman feature one week after getting caught up in a spin after contact with VanDyk while leading on the final turn of the final lap that cost him the victory.

Lake, driving the #55 truck, led from the first lap in the Hitches By George Sportsman feature and drove like a man on a mission, never giving up the lead. #24 VanDyk started in seventh and was up to third by lap 6. The top three drivers of Lake, rookie #77 Andrew Nylaan and VanDyk stretched out through the middle of the race, but VanDyk began to methodically close in on Nylaan, catching him on lap 19. The only caution of the race was for a lap 20 spin in turn 4 by #4 Al Thomas. After the restart, Lake again pulled away from the field, and this time VanDyk got around Nylaan for second position on lap 22. But there wasn't enough time for VanDyk to mount a challenge on Lake, who won his second Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex trophy of the season ahead of VanDyk, Nylaan, #25 Scott Root and #1 Randy Veldman. VanDyk won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing the most positions (five) from start to finish in the race, which lasted just 10 minutes and 44 seconds. VanDyk added another 17 points to his lead over #9 Mike Root for the season championship, leading by 77 points with two races to go.

In the Coors Light Late Model feature, #79 Jake Meyerink led the first 18 laps of green-flag racing, then handed the lead over to points leader #12 Tim DeVos. A yellow flag was waved on lap 22 as #X Ray Clay hit the turn 1 wall after getting together with #37 Terry Senneker. Back under green, #82 Tom Thomas was on the move, starting eighth and moving up to second on lap 29. #1 Randy Sweet was also running strong, running in the top 10 after starting 18th. On lap 34, Meyerink cut a tire and came to a stop in turn 3, bringing out the second caution of the race. After the restart, #101 Joe Bush battled #88 Tim Yonker side-by-side for fourth position, with Bush taking the position on lap 37, then quickly getting by #22 Brian Campbell for third position. Meanwhile, DeVos had stretched his lead to a straightaway length. But Thomas found some speed late in the race, catching DeVos and pulling alongside him on lap 44 as the leaders came up on lapped traffic. A lap 45 crash involving #28 Scott Thomas, #55 Chris Anthony (running in eighth and ninth position, respectively), and #57 Rick Senneker, who got together in turn 3 and hit the wall hard, preserved the lead for DeVos. A red flag stopped the race for the lengthy clean-up effort. Once the cars were rolling again, it was a five-lap shootout for the finish, but DeVos held on to win his seventh Engine Pro/Federal Mogul Speed Pro trophy of the season over Thomas, Bush, Yonker and Sweet, who won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 13 positions. DeVos now leads the championship race by 204 points over Bush with just two races to go, and is close to locking up his first-ever Coors Light Late Model track championship.

With just three races to go in 2003, Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, September 6, for a weekly points race presented by Kowalski. 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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