Thomas, Smith, Van Haitsma, Van Dyk win big; Johnny Benson Night up next MARNE, MI -- Tom Thomas and Lee VanDyk won their first Coors Light Late Model and Standale Lumber Sportsman features, respectively, of the season, while John Smith Sr. used...
Thomas, Smith, Van Haitsma, Van Dyk win big; Johnny Benson Night up next
MARNE, MI -- Tom Thomas and Lee VanDyk won their first Coors Light Late Model and Standale Lumber Sportsman features, respectively, of the season, while John Smith Sr. used his second victory to move up three spaces to fifth in the Engine Pro Super Stock point standings and Terry Van Haitsma claimed his sixth checkered flag of the season in the 50-lap make-up Sportsman race from July 3.
A busy night of racing kicked off with make-up races from last week's rain-postponed Standale Lumber Sportsman division. A double-length 50-lap feature produced a big seven-car crash early, involving top points runners #55 Dave Lake, #15 Casey Berenbrock, #15 Scott Root and #86 Ray Melinn (all sitting in the top 10 in division points), as well as #4 Chad Davis, #20 Dave Willet and #49 Dave D'Avignon. The damage was especially tough since there was still one more Sportsman feature to come later in the evening. #21 Terry Van Haitsma started the race in 11th place and moved up through the pack, finally taking the lead from #77 Andrew Nylaan, who had led the entire race, on lap 37. Van Haitsma went on to win his sixth Powerflex Trophy presented by Hastings Manufacturing Co. sponsored by Engine Pro in 10 races this season. Nylaan finished second, followed by #4 Nick Gebben, #71 Kyle Ballard and #52 Bruce Chase. Van Haitsma also won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 10 positions from his 11th place starting position.
In the Engine Pro Super Stock feature, several cautions turned the 30-lap race into a crawl, forcing officials to shorten the race by five laps due to time constraints, 42 minutes after the start. The hardest crash came on lap 13 as #71 Dan VanderMolen blew a tire and hit hard into the frontstretch wall. The hit was so hard that the left front wheel came completely off. #H7 John Smith Sr. went on to win from his front row starting position, taking home his second Clevite Trophy presented by The Dana Corp. sponsored by Engine Pro in 2004. #71 Brandon Braisted finished second, followed by #1 Brian Wiersma, #9 Nick Shotko and #14 Jon Arendsen. #76 Warren Speet won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 10 positions to finish seventh. Wiersma retains his points lead by 80 points over #98 Bob Bliss.
The 50-lap Coors Light Late Model feature was up next, and early separate crashes ruined the chances of cousins #37 Terry Senneker and #57 Rick Senneker. The big one came on lap 38 as #21 Johnny VanDoorn and #12 Tim DeVos tangled on the frontstretch as DeVos tried to lap the slower car of VanDoorn. #82 Tom Thomas went on to win his first Fel-Pro Trophy presented by The Federal Mogul Group sponsored by Engine Pro of the season ahead of #101 Joe Bush, #22 Brian Campbell, #21 Brian Maxim and #18 Lee Anderson. #31 Mike Bursley won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 11 positions from 25th to finish 14th. The top seven positions in the point standings stayed the same, with Bush leading TAG Racing teammate Anderson by just 29 points.
The final feature race of the night was the 25-lap Standale Lumber Sportsman feature. Rookie #23 Chris Koslek started on the front row and took the early lead, but #24 Lee VanDyk and #21 Terry Van Haitsma were charging from their eighth and 11th starting positions, respectively. VanDyk powered to his first Powerflex Trophy presented by Hastings Manufacturing Co. sponsored by Engine Pro of the season. It was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for VanDyk, who has missed several races this season and sits 17th in points after winning the 2003 Sportsman championship. Koslek held on for a career-best second place finish, moving up to 15th in points, highest of all Sportsman rookies. Van Haitsma finished third, followed by #4 Berenbrock, who recovered nicely from the crash in the first feature, and #4 Nick Gebben. Van Haitsma still rules the point standings, holding a 168-point lead over Dave Lake.
Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, July 17, for Johnny Benson Night and Auto Value Outlaw Winged Midgets presented by Hooters of Grand Rapids and Aaron's. 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.