Grega charges to $20,000 Victory. MARNE, MI - Veteran racer John Grega of Fruitport took home the biggest purse of his career Tuesday night, capturing the $20,000 top prize in Berlin Raceway's Chris Bradley Memorial 100 Invitational. The ...
Grega charges to $20,000 Victory.
MARNE, MI - Veteran racer John Grega of Fruitport took home the biggest purse of his career Tuesday night, capturing the $20,000 top prize in Berlin Raceway's Chris Bradley Memorial 100 Invitational. The winner payout was the largest ever payout for a Late Model race in the state of Michigan. In addition, NASCAR Winston Cup driver Johnny Benson returned home to compete at Berlin for the fourth time this season, finishing fourth.
In the first of two 50-lap qualifying races, cautions on lap 4, 15, 25 and 33 slowed the race, but the lead group stayed virtually the same throughout, with #11 John Grega winning the qualifier, followed by #27 Billy Shotko, #22 Brian Campbell, #1 Randy Sweet, #49 Dave Sensiba and #10 Johnny Benson finishing as the top six. The closest battle among those leaders was for fifth place as Benson and Sensiba raced tightly the entire race. The battle for the transfer spot, 12th place, was also tight as Andy Bozell, Cort Corwin and Tom Thomas raced hard for the chance to collect the $20,000 feature prize, with Bozell claiming the 12th position. Thomas, who finished 14th, advanced to the feature on a provisional for being in the top 10 in Late Model points.
In the second qualifying race, rookie #79 Jake Meyerink took the early lead, but it was #47 Fred Campbell who was the early mover, advancing up to second from his sixth place starting position by lap 10. Campbell then began challenged Meyerink for the lead on lap 13, but Meyerink held him off. A series of cautions on laps 3, 8 and 20 slowed the race; meanwhile, DeVos was charging through the field from his 13th starting position all the way up to fourth by the half-way point. Campbell finally got around Meyerink for the lead on lap 32, holding it for six laps until #161 Lee Anderson, who had started fifth, passed Campbell for the lead by busting through a tight pack of lapped cars. Anderson stayed in the lead through two more cautions and held off a charging Campbell for the win.
In the Chris Bradley Memorial 100 Feature, Fred Campbell led at the start, followed by Shotko, #12 Tim DeVos, #49 Dave Sensiba, Sweet, #16 Gritter and Benson. Sweet took fourth position from Sensiba on lap 9, then Gritter and Benson both passed Sensiba. The top three tightened up by lap 17, but caution came out on lap 21 as #67 Vern Slagh spun on the frontstretch. On the lap 21 restart, Benson charged past Gritter for fifth place, then got around Sweet and Shotko for third at the 25-lap mark. On lap 39, DeVos began peeking to the inside of Campbell,but Campbell held the lead as the top two cars stretched their lead over third place Benson and fourth place Shotko. Sweet, Gritter and Grega waged the closest battle on the track at the half-way point, as Gritter held the inside line beside Sweet with Grega on Sweet's tail. Gritter made the pass for fifth on lap 49, pulling Grega along with him and shuffling Sweet back to seventh.
Caution came out on lap 58 as Anderson spun on the frontstretch. On the restart, Campbell remained the leader, followed by DeVos, Benson, Shotko and Gritter, and the positions stayed the same until the 75-lap mark, when Grega passed Gritter for fifth. Grega was on the move, passing Shotko for fourth on lap 84, then passing Benson for third a lap later. On lap 86, DeVos spun trying to pass Campbell for the lead to bring out the caution. On lap 89 caution came out again as #7 Cort Corwin spun after contact with #22 Brian Campbell. It was a two-car shootout for the last 10 laps, as Grega tried to pass Campbell on the outside for several laps before finally making the pass for the lead to the road of the crowd on lap 97. Grega proudly came home the winner, collecting the $20,000 top prize. Finishing second was Campbell, followed by #101 Joe Bush (who passed Benson for third place on lap 99) and Benson. #611 Alan Marcott climbed all the way from a 24th starting position to finish fifth.
Grega, 45, is a dirt track expert who races every Friday night at Winston. He won his 13th straight track championship there last week, but the 25-year veteran has never had a payday like this one. Grega currently sits in ninth in the Berlin Raceway Coors Light Late Model points standings and has one other feature win this year.
The late Chris Bradley, a Coopersville native, was killed in a pit road accident while working as the crew chief for Adam Petty's ASA car in 1998. He began his ASA career as Benson's crew chief. The memorial race served as a fundraiser for the Chris Bradley Memorial Scholarship fund, a sub-fund of the Coopersville Area Community Foundation, which awards one scholarship per year to a Coopersville High School student who plans to pursue a career in the automotive industry. One dollar from every ticket sold for the race was donated to the fund. In addition, Tony's Pizza and Meijer stores donated three cents for every frozen Tony's Pizza sold during the week of the race to the foundation, bringing the total donated to more than $5,900.