Berlin Raceway summary 2004-04-17

Berlin Raceway opens 54th season Bush, Speet, Lake start season with victories MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway started its 2004 season Saturday night with a clear, beautiful 70-degree night and a full slate of action-packed racing on Opening Night...

Berlin Raceway opens 54th season
Bush, Speet, Lake start season with victories

MARNE, MI -- Berlin Raceway started its 2004 season Saturday night with a clear, beautiful 70-degree night and a full slate of action-packed racing on Opening Night presented by Lane Automotive. Fans saw an exciting Standale Lumber Sportsman feature that offered the fastest speeds in the division's history thanks to a new Hoosier tire compound used by all cars. Coors Light Late Model and Engine Pro Super Stocks were also in action.

The Standard Lumber Sportsman division cars qualified at record speeds, with 2003 champion #24 Lee VanDyk recording the fastest time with a lap clocked at 17.879 seconds (88.193 mph). In the feature, veteran #25 Larry Root, returning to racing after a 10-year absence, led the field through the first several laps but got loose when the faster #33 truck of Dave Lake brushed him from behind. Root slowed to gather his car back up, but the fast field plowed into him, causing a 7-car pile-up into the frontstretch outside wall on lap 8. Suffering the worst of the damage were Root, his son #15 Scott Root and #1 Randy Veldman. A red flag stopped the field for clean-up. Once racing resumed, #86 Ray Melinn led until lap 21, when Lake, of Howard City, took the lead and held on for the final 4 laps and the victory. Lake, last year's third place points finisher, collected the Powerflex Trophy presented by Hastings Manufacturing Co. sponsored by Engine Pro and the $400 top prize, plus a $500 cash contingency prize from Clevite and Engine Pro. #52 Bruce Chase finished second, followed by #21 Terry VanHaitsma, Melinn and #4 Nick Gebben. The top rookie finisher, and the only one to qualify for the feature race, was #20 Dave Willet in 12th place. #36 Ken Smith won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 11 positions from the start to finish in 9th place. VanHaitsma grabbed the points lead after one event after strong qualifying, heat and feature finishes.

In the Engine Pro Super Stock feature, #76 Warren Speet of Hamilton, MI, started in the front row and went on to win the Clevite Trophy presented by The Dana Corp. sponsored by Engine Pro, outlasting the other 21 cars in a race that took 30 minutes to complete 30 laps. Only half the field finished on the lead lap.. #17 Craig Fricke finished second, followed by #5 Jack Drolema, #36 Dan Groeneveld and #71 Dan VanderMolen. Groeneveld won the Valvoline Hard Charger award for advancing 11 positions. Speet also won the special $500 cash prize from Clevite and Engine Pro in addition to his winning payout of $600. Speet, who finished 12th in 2003 points, leads the points standings after one race.

In the Coors Light Late Model feature, 2003 points runner-up #101 Joe Bush of Hastings started the season strong by claiming the Fel-Pro Trophy presented by The Federal Mogul Group sponsored by Engine Pro. The 50-lap sprint lasted just 22 minutes and was slowed by just one caution with four laps to go. #82 Tom Thomas finished second followed by #27 Billy Shotko, #11 John Grega and #2 Brian Campbell. Last year's points champion Tim DeVos finished seventh. #37 Terry Senneker won the Valvoline Hard Charger award by advancing 10 positions to finish 10th. Bush leads the point standings.

Berlin Raceway will be back in action next Saturday night, April 24, for a weekly points race. Coors Light Late Model, Engine Pro Super Stock and Standale Lumber 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.

-www.berlinraceway.com.

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