Berlin Raceway 62nd Season Begins; Speet, Tillema, Ryan and Senneker victorious
Marne, MI – Berlin Raceway’s 62nd season finally got underway after an off-season full of anticipation and excitement. Taking home the checkers for the first time this season were Mike Speet (Burnips Equipment 4-Cylinder), Brian Tillema (Kerkstra Services Sportsman), Justin Ryan (Engine Pro Super Stock) and Terry Senneker (Port City Racecars/Great Lakes Helicopter Outlaw Late Model).
The Burnips Equipment 4-Cylinder got the show started with at 15-lap race; #9 Matt Clark and #72 Steven Holtzlander on the front row. Clark led the first lap, but the car on the move was #2 Darrell Holtzlander and right behind him, trying to get to the front was #77 Jared Lyzenga and #76 Mike Speet. The first caution of the race came out on lap 1; the #63 of Paul Ritchie and #89 Sierra Lantz made contact coming out of turn 4. The #2 Holtzlander was trying to make it three-wide on the restart and after making it through turns one and two, he took the lead on the backstretch and was immediately being challenged by Speet. On lap 4, Holtzlander caught the tail of the field and Speet was able to close in on him. On lap 5, leader Holtzlander was loose coming out of turn 4; he slid sideways, Speet took the lead and Lyzenga made contact with Holtzlander. After they dropped out of contention, Speet ran away from the field and took the first checkers of the night. The rest of the top ten were Clark, #20 Jackson Walker, #11X Jason Essex, #10 Dave Duyst, #18 Todd Worden, #41 Kyle VanDrunen, #91 Rob Ream, #17 Seth VanHorssen and #02 Christian Wynbelt.
Up next was the25-lap Kerkstra Services Sportsman; #18 Mitch Meppelink was on the pole with #76 Brian Tillema on his outside. Tillema was quick to jump to the lead while the field jockeyed for position behind him. The #15 of Scott Root made it past Meppelink for second, the #88 of Tony Davis also slipped past. On lap 9, Davis was stalking Root for second, they were side by side at half-way; Davis took the position as they split a lapped car. This let #1 Randy Veldman catch up to them and he was working over Root for third. With five to go, the battle for third was getting exciting between Root, Veldman and #23 Andrew MacIntosh. While Root and Veldman raced side by side, MacIntosh was all over Veldman’s bumper. MacIntosh took fourth from Veldman as Tillema crossed the start/finish line, claiming his first victory of the season. The rest of the top ten were Davis, Root, MacIntosh, Veldman, Meppelink, #33 Allen Davis, #40 Dave Cutler, #84 Tyler Nawrocki and #17 Jared Miller.
The Engine Pro Super Stocks rolled next and #51 Justin Ryan and #54 Joel Baker led the field to the green flag for the 30-lap feature. Ryan held the lead and pulled away from the field; #66 Nate Walton took second and the #55 of Dave Lake was up to third when the first caution of the race came out for a wreck between turns three and four. The #85 of Kelsey Steele, #024 of Cole Roelofs and #29 John Norder were all involved. After a red flag for clean up, the race was restarted and Ryan took off with the lead again, but this time, Walton was able to stay with him. There were side by side battles from fourth on back and the first battle for position was for fourth between the #55 of Dave Lake and #77 Andrew Nylaan and out front, Ryan was pulling away from the field. On lap 11, #48 Seth Moody was challenging Nylaan for his fourth position and Moody was giving it all he had, getting side by side with Nylaan and eventually taking the position on lap 17. With nine laps to go, Walton was reeling in Ryan, setting up an exciting finish. Caution came out again with five to go for a slow car and this set up a single file restart with Walton right on Ryan’s bumper. Ryan was able to keep the field behind him and grab his first win of the season. Walton, #78 Will Olmsted, Moody, Nylaan, #6 Bob Bliss, Lake, Baker, #20J Jeremy Munniksma and #20 Dave Hull rounded out the top ten.
The Port City Racecars/Great Lakes Helicopter Outlaw Late Model 100-lap feature was the finale of the evening; #9 Mike Root and #X Ray Clay were on the front row. Root led and the field was mostly single file with the exception of #14 Steve Needles and #12 Tim DeVos. DeVos made the pass on the high side and was in a hurry to get to the front. He passed #28 Scott Thomas for third on lap 7 and set his sights on Clay in second. The next battle on the track was on lap 13; #55 Chris Anthony was looking high on S. Thomas, Thomas threw the block and that let the #16 of Derrick Griffin join in on the fun. Anthony got around Thomas, did Griffin. Lap 20 saw the leader, Root, start to lap cars and this let Clay gain three tenths on him and Clay was not letting the gap get any bigger. On lap 25, Clay got to Root’s bumper and was looking to his inside, but Root was able to pull away a few laps later. The leaders were coming in to heavy traffic on lap 32, but the crowd wouldn’t get the chance to see how it would shake out; the #88 of Tim Yonker blew and an engine, bringing out the yellow and then red flag for clean up. Root got a good jump on the restart and pulled out to a half-second lead and the car on the restart was Griffin. On lap 38, he was gaining on Needles. They both caught Clay on lap 43 and both made the pass by the next time by. Then, they both set their sights on Root. Needles pulled to the inside of Root on lap 56 and took the lead; Griffin was eager to follow suit. Griffin and Root raced side by side with #37 Terry Senneker and #82 Tom Thomas looking to see which lane would move. Griffin made the pass and started to reel in Needles. On lap 65, there was a three-car battle for the lead; Griffin was side by side with Needles and Senneker was watching from third, waiting for one of them to slip. Five laps later, Senneker was tired of waiting and he took the lead with a daring pass in turn four. Senneker was in heavy traffic as Needles and Griffin were still battling for position. Griffin was able to use traffic to get around Needles, as did T. Thomas and #32 Ross Meeuwsen. Lap 84 saw an exciting race for second when Meeuwsen used the high side to get around lapped traffic and both Griffin and Thomas. They saw that the high side worked for Meeuwsen, so they followed suit. With ten laps to go, Senneker had over a two second lead over Meeuwsen, but Meeuwsen was catching him due to traffic. Lap 94 saw the second caution of the race; Scott Thomas spun on the backstretch. After the restart, Senneker pulled away and no one was able to catch him. Senneker earned the win and the rest of the top ten were Meeuwsen, Griffin, T. Thomas, #21 Terry VanHaitsma, Anthony, Root, #71 Harold Fair, Clay and #6 Dave Zagaiski.
Next Saturday, April 21, the Engine Pro Super Stocks, Model Coverall Modifieds, Kerkstra Services Sportsman and Burnips Equipment 4-Cylinders will all be in action. Tickets will be $10 for adults and kids 11 and under are free; racing starts at 7:00 p.m.