Berlin Raceway race report 2003-09-14

MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway crowned three new champions Saturday night as the 2003 points season concluded in style. Rockford's Tim DeVos won his eighth of 18 Coors Light Late Model feature to claim the championship title, while Zeeland's Ross ...

MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway crowned three new champions Saturday night as the 2003 points season concluded in style. Rockford's Tim DeVos won his eighth of 18 Coors Light Late Model feature to claim the championship title, while Zeeland's Ross Meeuwsen won his record 13th of 18 events for the Engine Pro Super Stock championship. In the Hitches By George Sportsman feature, Grand Rapids' Lee VanDyk went down with a flat tire late in the race but still claimed the division championship. All three are first-time points champions in their respective divisions.

In the 25-lap Hitches By George Sportsman feature, #24 VanDyk took the lead from #52 Bruce Chase on lap 6, while #9 Mike Root (second in points) and #55 Dave Lake (third in points) moved into the top three from their sixth and eighth starting positions by lap 12. The #9 and #55 trucks ran door-to-door for several laps while VanDyk opened up a straightaway lead. Lake took the second position on lap 16, then on lap 20 both Lake and Root passed VanDyk, who then slowed and came into the pits with a flat tire. Two late cautions didn't derail Lake, who won the Engine Pro/Hastings Manufacturing Powerflex trophy for the fourth time this season in points races (fifth win overall) and celebrated with his Helio Castroneves-style climbing of the fence. Root finished second, followed by Chase, #21 Terry VanHaitsma and #75 Bob Swanson. VanDyk finished last in the race but carried a big enough lead into the night that he still came out on top of the points race by a 34-point margin over Root, with Lake finishing third in the points.

In the 30-lap Engine Pro Super Stock feature, #3 Ross Eppink started on the pole and led early, but #32 Meeuwsen was on the move, up to third from his eighth starting position by lap 8. Meeuwsen charged into second around #98 Bob Bliss on lap 10, then on lap 11 took the lead from Eppink. A series of cautions for incidents involving #78 Paul McGraw, #8 Billy Eppink, #13 James Haney, #76 Warren Speet, #19 Nick Szotko kept the field bunched together but Meeuwsen prevailed, winning the Engine Pro Trophy for the 13th time this season, a record in the division. Meeuwsen celebrated his championship with his signature string of donuts on the frontstretch, enveloping the entire track with tire smoke. #71 Brandon Braisted finished second, followed by Ross Eppink, #2 Jimmy TenBrink and #10 Jay Gipson. Meeuwsen won the championship by an overwhelming 345 points over Bliss, with rookies Braisted and TenBrink finishing third and fourth in the points.

In the 50-lap Coors Light Late Model feature, #12 DeVos started in eighth position but moved up to second by lap 15. #82 Tom Thomas was also on the move, entering the top 10 from his 18th starting position on lap 17. Two early cautions, on lap 13 as #74 Paul Namey spun and on lap 17 as #88 Tim Yonker drove off the backstretch, slowed the early portion of the race, then on lap 22 DeVos overtook #27 Billy Shotko for the lead. A 30-lap green flag stretch saw DeVos maintain his lead over #101 Joe Bush, while Thomas continued his solid march, passing #47 Fred Campbell for third position on lap 43. After two more caution flags, for a lap 46 spin by Namey and an incident involving #222 Caleb Bisacky and #X Ray Clay on lap 49, DeVos saw the green-white-checkered flags and won his eighth Engine Pro/Federal Mogul Speed Pro trophy of the season. bush finished third, followed by Thomas, Campbell and Shotko. The top 3 finishers in the race also finished in those same positions in the points race, with DeVos beating Bush by 237 points.

The final race of the 2003 season, to be held in two weeks on Saturday, September 27, is the Chet Mysliwiec Memorial 100 presented by Engine Pro and Late Model Digest. The race will consist of twin 50-lap Coors Light Late Model qualifying races and the 100-lap Memorial feature, plus a 50-lap combined Hitches By George Sportsman/Engine Pro Super Stock feature. Tickets are $15 in advance and $16 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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