Berlin Raceway kicks off 63rd season
-Jason Essex, Billy Shotko, Scott Root, Seth Moody and Ross Meeuwsen score opening-night wins-
Marne, MI – The third time was the charm for Berlin Raceway. After two failed attempts of hosting the season opener, the weather finally cooperated and the track roared to life after a long winter.
The Burnips Equipment 4-Cylinders were the first to hit the track with a 15-lap feature, #10 Dave Duyst and #17 Seth VanHorssen led the field to green. VanHorssen was quick to jump to the lead as Duyst tried to hold off the hard-charging #11X Jason Essex. Once Essex passed Duyst, he was stalking VanHorssen and took the lead from him on lap 7 and the field spread out until the first caution came out on lap 11; Duyst hit the wall and lost a tire. Essex took back off after the green flag was put back out, he was being chased by #89 Sierra Lantz and #9 Zach Clark. Essex held on for the win and the rest of the top ten were Lantz, Clark, #62 Charlie DeJong, #27 Rikki VanHorssen, #20 Jackson Walker, #19 Robert Bowyer, #2 Troy Nagelkirk, Seth VanHorssen and Duyst.
The #7 of Dennis Mann was on the pole for the 25-lap Model Coverall Modified feature with #16 Kris Fewless on his outside. While Mann led the first lap, it didn’t last for long as #7 Ryan Hamm took it on lap 5. The #22 of Billy Shotko was running the high side and had passed #88 Tony David for second. By lap 12, Hamm was trying to hold off both Shotko and #97 Kevin DeGood. Shotko snatched the lead from Hamm on lap 14, DeGood followed through, putting Hamm back to third. The first caution of the race came on lap 20 when #8 Billy Eppink spun on the frontstretch. After the restart, Shotko got a good jump, leaving Hamm and DeGood to fight for second. No one could catch Shotko, he got the win and the rest of the top ten were DeGood, Hamm, #76 Ryan Gruppen, David, #68 Randy DeBoer, Eppink, #29 Rob Shoemaker, Fewless and Mann.
Up next were the cars of the Enterprise Iron & Metal Sportsman with #20 Tyler Nawrocki and #26 Brian Thome on the front row for the 25-lap feature. Nawrocki kept the first position and the field stacked up two by two behind him. The #40 of Dave Cutler was the first to break out of the back to challenge Nawrocki, using the high side to do it. Lap 8 saw the first caution of the race when rookie #3 Ben Thomas spun in turn 1. Once the cars were restarted, they stayed side by side until lap 11 when Cutler took the lead. Just two laps later, the caution was out again, the #17 of Jared Miller broke and Nawrocki spun on the backstretch. The #15 of Scott Root took the lead on the restart and the field quickly settled in to single-file racing. Cutler wasn’t giving up, though, he was all over Root as #33 Allen Davis joined the battle. The third caution of the night came out on lap 21, Nawrocki and #9 Tyler Sterken were both involved. The restart came with 4 laps to go, and with a new rule in place, the restarts are double file from start to finish. The #23 of Andrew MacIntosh slipped by Davis, but their battle let Root sneak away and grab the win. The rest of the top ten were Cutler, MacIntosh, Davis, Thome, #77 Gerry Shepard, #51 Shawn Simon, #1 Randy Veldman, #89 Kirk Meissner and Sterken.
The Engine Pro Super Stocks took the track next, #48 Seth Moody and #31 Brett DeKraker were on the front row. DeKraker took the lead and the top three (DeKraker, Moody and #20 Jeremy Munniksma) broke away from the pack. Moody took the lead on lap 7 as DeKraker fought back on the outside. Moody was able to clear him and that left DeKraker and Munniksma to fight it out for second. The first caution of the race happened on lap 13 when #67 Ben Welch spun at the start/finish line. After the restart, Moody was able to drive away from the field, he was being chased by Munnisksma and DeKraker was now trying to hold on to third as he was being challenged by #66 Nate Walton and #78 Will Olmsted. The second caution came out on lap 24 when #76 Warren Speet make contact with rookie #21 Tyler Rycenga. The field was reset and Munniksma was able to hang with Moody. Moody not only had Munniksma worry about on his outside, he had #78 Will Olmsted on his tail. Moody held them off to grab the checked flag and the rest of the top ten were Munniksma, Olmsted, Walton, #44 Brian VanZalen, #54 Justin Regnerus, Welch, #76 Brian Tillema, #20 Dave Hull and DeKraker.
The final race of the night was the 75-lap Budweiser Super Late Models, #222 Caleb Bisacky and #23 Chris Koslek led the pack to the stripe. Bisacky and Koslek broke away once the race started, but bit by bit, #12 Tim DeVos was gaining on them. On lap 12, DeVos was trying to overtake Koslek for second and a by lap 19, he had caught up with Bisacky. The first caution on the night came on lap 19, the #6 of Brandon Hermiller spun in turn 1. The caution let DeVos restart on the front row, next to Bisacky. DeVos took the lead on the restart, but the caution came back out again when #121 Tim Greene spun in turn 4. Just 2 laps later, the caution was out again, this time for the #$ of Jon Beach and #99 Ross Meeuwsen. Before a lap was complete, the caution was out again for Greene. DeVos took off once the green was back out and coming through the pack was the #55 of Dave Lake who made it to second on lap 26. The car on the move was the #99 of Ross Meeuwsen, he made it through the field and took second from Lake just as another caution came out; #77 Josh Hobson hit the wall in turn 4. The race was restarted and on lap 31, it was Meeuwsen who was scored as the leader. The field settled back into a groove and as the laps ticked off, Meeuwsen seemed to get faster. The pace of the race was slowed again on lap 55 when the caution came out for #24 Lee VanDyk. The restart put Meeuwsen and DeVos side by side, but it didn’t take long for Meeuwsen to clear him and take off again. With just 4 laps to go, the caution was out again when #101 Lauren Bush spun across the frontstretch and hit the infield wall. After clean up, the race was restarted and Meeuwsen remained in the top spot, but the cautions were not done. With just one lap to go, the #32 of Gabe Ensing spun on the frontstretch. This set up a one-lap shootout between Meeuwsen and DeVos. Meeuwsen hung on for the final lap to get the win. DeVos came in second and the rest of the top ten were Koslek, #82 Tom Thomas, #99 Jordan Dahlke, #55 Chris Anthony, #48 Seth Moody, VanDyk, #84 Jay Niewiek and #51 Justin Ryan.
Next Saturday, May 4 is Boy Scouts night at Berlin Raceway. The Port City Racecars Outlaw Late Models, Engine Pro Super Stocks, Burnips Equipment 4-Cylinders and the Napa Filters Racing Vintage Racing Organization of America will all be in action. Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $8 for students 12-17, $5 for kids 8-11 and children 7 and under are free; the first race begins at 7:00 p.m.
More information on Berlin Raceway’s 63rd season can be found at www.berlinraceway.com
Become a fan of Berlin Raceway on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/wherespeedbelongs
Follow Berlin Raceway on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/BerlinRaceway