Coopersville’s Johnny VanDoorn wins the Battle at Berlin 251
-Randy Veldman victorious in Sportsman-
Marne, MI – The day that race fans had circled on their calendars had finally come: the Battle at Berlin. NASCAR star Kasey Kahne stopped by to be the Grand Marshal of the event and the crowd on hand would be in for a treat with a full night of racing ahead of them.
The Enterprise Iron & Metal Sportsman was the first feature out with #33 Allen Davis and #1 Randy Veldman on the front row. From the drop of the green flag, Davis and Veldman raced side by side until Davis was able to clear Veldman on lap 3. Veldman dropped back and started to gain momentum on the bottom to give chase to Davis. Just behind them were #40 Dave Cutler, #15 Scott Root and #26 Brian Thome who were all wanted to show the way around the track. Davis was holding strong up front as Cutler pulled to Veldman’s outside. Veldman pulled his car low and dropped to the inside of Davis, but Davis was holding his ground on the outside. Veldman cleared Davis for the lead with five to go and Davis would have to try to hold off Cutler for second. With just 2 laps to go, the caution came out when #11 Tim Stuart spun in turn 2. It set up a green-white-checker and Veldman was able to hold off the challenges and get win number 4. Davis came in second and the rest of the top ten were Root, Thome, Cutler, #89 Kirk Meissner, #77 Gerry Shepard, #20 Tyler Nawrocki and #17 Jared Miller.
Up next was the Battle at Berlin 251; on the pole and with fast time of the night was the #61 of Johnny VanDoorn with #41 TJ Reaid on his outside. VanDoorn took off with the lead and lap 1 also saw the first caution of the race when #222 Caleb Bisacky spun in turn 2. The field went back to green on lap 8 and the top three went immediately to single file as the rest of the field were jockeying for position. Working his way through the field was the #12 of Tim DeVos, after starting tenth, he had made it up to fifth on lap 17 and was battling with #99 Ross Meeuwsen for fourth using the outside lane for all it was worth. At lap 25, leader VanDoorn was coming up on the tail of the field and while he had over a second lead over #21 Kyle Jones, Jones got stuck behind lapped cars letting VanDoorn get further ahead. The #42 of Chad Finley got past Jones and for second as VanDoorn continued to pad his lead, at lap 50, it stood at just over three seconds. The second caution of the race came on lap 61 when the #77C of Landon Cling spun on the frontstretch.
The restart came on lap 71 and VanDoorn was out of the gate like a shot. It took a few laps, but the field settled in to mostly single file as they had 170 laps remaining. Caution three came out on lap 87 when the #29 of Anderson Bowen spun off of the backstretch. The field was restarted on lap 97, VanDoorn skated away and the battle was on for second between Finley, Meeuwsen and Jones. Meeuwsen grabbed second and then the caution was back out. The #84 of Jay Niewiek spun on the frontstretch on lap 101. At this point, the leaders hit pit road for the first round of live pit stops. A handful of cars did not pit thus #25 Ross Kenseth was now the leader. The first car out of the pit was Reaid who would restart in fifth on lap 109; VanDoorn, who had led since the drop of the green restarted in sixth.
After the restart it was the #21 of Derek Griffin showing the way as the cars with fresher tires were making their way through the field. VanDoorn took second lap 121, but had over three seconds between him and leader Griffin. That lead was quickly erased when Finley brought out the fifth caution on lap 125 when he spun on the backstretch. Racing resumed on lap 138 with Griffin and VanDoorn starting side by side. Just as the field was picking up steam, a multi-car wreck in turn 3 happened involving #21 Terry VanHaitsma, Cling, #19 Zak Hausler, #26 Rick Turner, Niewiek and #131 Nick Gullatta. Griffin was the leader when the race got restarted and Reaid was hot on his tail. Reaid took the lead on lap 144 and Meeuwsen followed him past Griffin. Meeuwsen was looking racy and trying everything he could to get around Reaid. Meeuwsen used the high side to drive around Reaid on lap 152 and he promptly drove away from the field.
The progress of the race was again halted on lap 156 when #72 Scott Hantz spun on the backstretch after contact with #6 Brandon Hermiller. After pit stops, Reaid was once again the leader with VanDoorn in second and the restart happened on lap 165. VanDoorn immediately went to the point as #29 Austin Theriault was all over Reaid for second. Their battle let the #20 of Brian Campbell and #26 Bubba Pollard catch up to them. Theriault made the pass for second and left Reaid to deal with Campbell and Pollard.
Meeuwsen had been flying through the field after his pit stop and on lap 199, he was back up to second, 2.8 seconds behind VanDoorn, but that lead was quickly gone when a caution for debris came out on lap 202. Most of the leaders hit pit road, but Meeuwsen was the only lead-lap car that did not. Action picked back up on lap 210 and VanDoorn was off with the lead, but the caution was back out on lap 211 when the #55 of Dave Lake spun on the frontstretch. The green was back in the air with 34 laps to go and VanDoorn resumed the lead with Finley in second. Meeuwsen was quickly falling back, making Pollard and Campbell work hard to get around him. Campbell and Meeuwsen ended up spinning in turn 2 battling for position on lap 221.
With 22 laps to go, the race was restarted and the top five were VanDoorn, Finely, Pollard, #47 Trey Mitchell and #222 Caleb Bisacky. Just a few laps later on lap 224 the yellow was back out when Meeuwsen spun exiting turn 4. It was a 10-lap shootout when the race went back to green and urgency was in the air. After a lap was complete, there were two rows of three-wide and it didn’t end well. Coming out of turn 4, #77 Josh Hobson and #24 Tyler Roahrig were both involved in caution number 12. Four green flag laps were left VanDoorn who had no trouble with the restart and sailed on to take the win. The rest of the top ten were Finley, Pollard, Reaid, Mitchell, Theriault, Kenseth, Hermiller, #04 Phil Bozell and Griffin.
Next Saturday, June 22 is Kids Night. Friends of CASA will be on hand and divisions racing include Port City Racecars Outlaw Late Models, Engine Pro Super Stocks, Model Coverall Modifieds and Burnips Equipment 4-Cylinders. There will be kids activities and the first 500 kids through the gate will eat for free! Tickets are $12 for adults 18+, $8 for students 12-17 and kids 11 and under get in for free; the first race starts at 7:00 p.m.
Camping is available on site all season long. There are limited spaces for electrical and water so act fast as camping spots are first come, first served.
For more information about this event as well as our weekly racing program please visit our website at www.berlinraceway.com
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For general questions, please call the Berlin Raceway track office on Tuesday - Friday from 9am - 5pm weekly.