MARNE, Mich. (July 16, 2001) - Joey Clanton scored a hard-fought top-five finish this past weekend in the American Speed Association's (ASA) tires.com 300 held Saturday evening from Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. The event marked the 500th race...
MARNE, Mich. (July 16, 2001) - Joey Clanton scored a hard-fought top-five finish this past weekend in the American Speed Association's (ASA) tires.com 300 held Saturday evening from Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. The event marked the 500th race held in the American Speed Association's 34-year history, but it was only Clanton's 32nd ASA career start after claiming the Pat Schauer Memorial Rookie of the Year honors in 2000.
Clanton started in the second position after a strong qualifying run and quickly took the lead of the race on lap two of the event. It didn't take long for racing action to heat up for the No. 83 Zaxby's Real Chicken team, as Clanton avoided a close call with the spinning No. 33 entry of Greg Stewart. The near altercation forced Clanton off the track to avoid contact and forced ASA officials to throw the first caution flag of the day. The caution allowed Clanton to bring the No. 83 Zaxby's Real Chicken Chevrolet Monte Carlo down pit road for fresh right side tires and fuel. The Steve Dale Motorsports crew were the quickest in the pits, allowing Clanton to return to the track to claim the lead by lap 62.
Clanton pitted again under caution at lap 86 to allow the crew to change left side tires badly worn by the abrasive 7/16-mile track of Berlin Raceway. As green flag racing got back underway, the eager ASA field began racing aggressively and traded paint among several drivers. At lap 100, Clanton avoided two potential accidents, first with the No. 47 car of Todd Rosebrugh and then with the No. 9 car of points leader Johnny Sauter. By lap 110, the dust had lifted, and the No. 83 settled into the second position.
At a track with almost all turns and no straightaways, the tires on the No. 83 Chevrolet Monte Carlo quickly lost their grip, forcing Clanton to return to the pits during the third caution of the day. With added fuel and fresh BFGoodrich Tires, Clanton returned to the track patiently waiting to make his move. As the race progressed, a rivalry between Johnny Sauter and Clanton began to heat up as the two cars traded the lead several times. As Clanton was taking the lead from Sauter at lap 152, the No. 83 suffered minor damage to the right front of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
While running second, the No. 83 team decided to make an aggressive call during the fourth caution of the race. The team opted to bring the car down pit road to raise the hood and make an adjustment to the sway bar. Gene Roberts, crew chief of the No. 83, gambled on track position to make the adjustment. "We are here to win, not just ride around the track for points. The change is what we needed to make a run for the victory," Roberts stated.
Clanton returned to the track in the eighth position with 90 laps left in the 300-lap event to make his move. Charging forward, Clanton had moved into the fifth position on lap 271 when the No. 63 entry of Robbie Pyle spun and caused damage to Clanton's car. Clanton would have just enough time to catch his breath to avoid another close call. On lap 290, Mike Cope spun his machine on the backstretch trying to return to the track, nearly colliding with Clanton. The No. 83 was forced to leave the track in order to avoid the incident, taking a short but scenic trip in the grass and dirt of Berlin Raceway. At the finish line on lap 300, Clanton crossed in the fifth position.
"They say you have to go to Berlin more than once to get a good finish," stated Clanton. "A top-five finish at the track is great. I would have liked the win, but we just came up a little short. We will turn our attention to winning at Salem."
The 13th race on the 2001 American Speed Association schedule will take place this Saturday, July 21 from Salem Speedway in Salem, Ind. The race will be broadcast live on The National Network and will begin at 9:00 p.m. EST.