Three-Time ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion, Johnny VanDoorn Wins Inaugural Battle at Berlin 251
15th Career Champion Racing Association Triumph; First Ever at his Home Track of Berlin Raceway
Marne, Michigan (Saturday, June 15, 2013): The third and final day of the Inaugural Battle at Berlin Weekend wrapped up a great weekend of racing at the historic Berlin Raceway, a tricky 7/16s (0.437) mile semi-banked paved oval located west of Grand Rapids in Marne, Michigan as the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS were the headliners for the three-day weekend and the West Michigan crowd witnessed one of their own take home a $15,000 payday as three-time and reigning series Champion, Johnny VanDoorn finally broke through at his home track.
The Coopersville, Michigan native picked up his second win of the 2013 racing season in two starts, his 15th career Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS victory to move into sole possession of fourth all-time, but in his previous 14 wins, none of those came at his home track, a mere 10 minutes from home, until the first jewel in the $100,000 JEGS Triple Crown Series.
"I've won a few of these races in my career, but this one tops them all. We've been trying since 2006, my first year in the ARCA/CRA Super Series to win one of these races here." Explained the jubilant 25-year-old in victory lane as he was surrounded by family, friends and his crew. "Many times we've had a car capable of winning, but too often, bad luck would win out, tonight, things went our way and I couldn't be happier for this team.
VanDoorn's night started off with his second EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award of the season over the 35-car field and with the event an extended distance race, he would start the Inaugural Battle at Berlin 251 from the pole position. He was scheduled to start next to 19-year-old Travis Braden, the 2012 ARCA/CRA Rookie of the Year, who won the previous night in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance event and was seeking the $5,000 bonus offered by the track if the same driver could win both events during the weekend.
However Braden's car wouldn't fire once the command to fire the engines was given due to coil wire going bad, which forced him to pit. He would have to start the race from last in the 32-car starting field. This moved T.J. Reaid up to the outside front row starting spot, but it would be VanDoorn grabbing the early lead and after surviving the first of 13 cautions on the first lap.
VanDoorn would pace the field for the first 103 laps of the 251-lap affair with Chad Finley, who after battling with an impressive Kyle Jones for the first 33 laps as both got by Reaid on the start for second and third, would take over second spot. All the while VanDoorn kept Finley at a safe distance behind him to set the early tone of the race by placing several lapped cars between him and Finley.
A caution on lap 102 slowed the field down and the first round of pit stops occurred with all of the lead lap cars coming down pit road for fresh Hoosier Racing Tires and a fuel cell full of Sunoco Racing Fuel. After the stops, it would be Ross Kenseth who would inherit the lead starting on lap 104 as he had 2011 ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion & Rookie of the Year, Derrick Griffin on his back bumper as neither driver pitted.
On lap 110, Griffin, who was subbing for Joe Beaver for the second time in three points races this season, grabbing the lead away from Kenseth and begin pulling away from the field. VanDoorn had worked his way back up to second spot and was content to riding behind Griffin as the race reached the halfway point on lap 126. Griffin would collect the Holley Carburetors Halfway Leader Award as well as the VR-12 Halfway Leader Award he was the first driver to see the crossed flags.
The most serious incident of the night occurred on lap 138 when Terry VanHaitsma slammed the turns three and four wall collecting Brent Downey, who was making his first ARCA/CRA Super Series start since the 2004 season, as well as Landon Cling, Tim DeVos and Jay Niewiek in the process as all five drivers were done for the night and a Red Flag was in order to speed up the clean-up process.
Once the track went back under yellow flag conditions, VanDoorn pitted for the second time of the night and the field doubled up for the restart, Reaid began to mount a charge as he drove by the new second place driver of Ross Meeuwsen and then Griffin to take over the lead on lap 143. Meeuwsen was able to regroup and after getting passed Griffin, he drove back by Reaid on lap 153 to take over the lead for the first time of the night. Another caution flew on lap 156 and Meeuwsen would pit, which gave the lead back to Reaid.
By this time, VanDoorn had charged his way back through the field and found himself on Reaid's back bumper for the restart. He grabbed the lead away from the Southern Super Series invader on lap 166. Northeastern U.S. traveler, Austin Theriault got around Reaid and the Fort Kent, Maine invader set his sights on VanDoorn. However, Meeuwsen made the most of his new tires and fought his way back to the second spot and tried his hand at dethroning VanDoorn from the point.
When one more caution flew on lap 202, VanDoorn went pit side for his final two tires in his pit stall giving the lead back to Meeuwsen. VanDoorn's crew gave him a great pit stop which earned the driver the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award and he would line up next to Meeuwsen on the ensuing restart and it didn't take long for VanDoorn's fresh rubber to take effect as he would grab the lead for the final time on lap 209 and tried to pull away from the rest of the field.
However, Finley would have something to say about that as he overcame two separate issues on pit road as well as being involved in two separate cautions and fought his way back up to second place and within striking distance of VanDoorn while having another Southern Super Series traveler, Bubba Pollard as well as a resurgent Reaid who both trailed him.
As hard as the trio tried, VanDoorn wasn't to be denied as he would keep Finley and the rest of the field behind his #61 Port City Racecars / Chevrolet and would take the checkered flag to the roar and approval of the partisan home track crowd on hand. "We were a little tight during the race, but man that last pit stop was awesome. My guys did a great job and my brother (Crew Chief, Butch VanDoorn) gave me a great car all night long. I've never been more proud of any win than I am tonight." He ended. VanDoorn also scored the Team Construction Clean Sweep Award as well as the VDL Fuel Systems Hot Lap of the Race Award.
As for the JEGS Triple Crown Series for the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS, apotential $100,000 is on the line now for VanDoorn as he is the only driver eligible for the six-figure payday if he can win all three legs of the series. After the Battle at Berlin 251, the Triple Crown continues with the Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Indiana on July 20th and concludes with the 42nd running of the Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Indiana on October 13th.
If VanDoorn, or someone else can win two of the three Triple Crown events, that driver will receive a $10,000 bonus. If no driver wins at least two of the three Triple Crown events, the driver who accumulates the most points during those three events will receive a $5,000 bonus and the title of 2013 JEGS Super Late Model Triple Crown Series Champion.
An adventurous night ended with a runner-up showing for Finley in his #42 Auto Value-Bumper to Bumper Parts Stores & Certified Service Centers / Chevrolet who would earn the FLUIDEYNE Cool Under Pressure Award for the night. "We were fast during the first 100 laps or so, but after we had our pit road issues, our second set of tires were terrible. So we came back in and put the tires we started the race back on the car and it was fast again." The 21-year-old from DeWitt, Michigan explained. "My guys never gave up even after all we went through on the track and on pit road and I'm really proud of everyone on this team." He added.
Taking the final spot on the podium was Pollard as the Senoia, Georgia invader in his #26 JEGS.com / Chevrolet fought all night from his 17th starting position to take home a third place finish and collected the first Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award thanks to his run. "We fought all night long to get here. The traffic was constant the whole race and it was an adventure getting by some of those lapped cars." The 26-year-old southeastern U.S. star remarked. "It's a bit different racing up north here compared to racing down south, so that's something we need to get used to when we come back up." The Peach State traveler added.
Reaid would finish in the fourth spot ahead of Trey Mitchell, who made the most of his first career ARCA/CRA Super Series start by completing the top five. Theriault would collect a sixth place showing as Kenseth earned the Hedman Hedders Husler Award for his impressive 26th to seventh place run after needing a Provisional to get into the line-up. Anderson Bowen won the Boyne Machine Company Rookie of the Race Award after finishing 21stafter starting 32nd, the highest among freshman as Phil Bozell from 21st was ninth with Griffin finishing off the top 10.
VanDoorn's second EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award of the season over the 35-car field was a 16.109 which measured out to 97.883mph while another three-time ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion, Scott Hantz would win the 15-Lap Last Chance Race to transfer into the 251-Lap main as Landon Cling, Dave Sensiba and Nick Gullatta would finish second through fourth to also earn their way into the main event.
After a weekend off to recoup from 251 laps of racing, the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS returns to action as part of the ARCA Tripleheader Weekend on Saturday-Sunday, June 29-30th as the Super Series will headline the Saturday portion of the weekend with the running of the Winchester 100. The ARCA Trucks Series is also on the Saturday card while the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menard will qualify on Saturday and then on Sunday afternoon will race in the Herr's Chase the Taste 200.
19-Year-Old Travis Braden Scores Convincing Win In Berlin 100 Presented by Boyne Machine Company & JEGS.com
Breaks Track Record to Start Off His Dominating Performance at Berlin Raceway
Marne, Michigan (Friday, June 14, 2013): It was Day II of the Inaugural Battle at Berlin Weekend at the famed 7/16s (0.437) mile semi-banked paved oval of Berlin Raceway, located west of Grand Rapids in Marne, Michigan as the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance highlighted the evening with the fourth race of the 2013 racing season; the Berlin 100 Presented by Boyne Machine Company & JEGS.com.
19-year-old Travis Braden, the 2012 ARCA/CRA Super Series Rookie of the Year took advantage of extra track time in preparation for the Inaugural Battle at Berlin 251 for the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS to be held the next night as the Wheeling, West Virginia native in his #01 West Virginia University / Chevrolet put on a dominating display of driving as he broke the Track Record in Boyne Machine Qualifying and then took the lead on lap seven and pulled away to a dominating win, his second career JEGS/CRA triumph.
"This car was absolutely flawless tonight. I can't thank this whole team enough for giving me the best car I have ever driven," The elated driver stated in victory lane. "The car was absolutely flying tonight. I could put it anywhere I wanted too and pass lapped traffic anywhere I needed too. I couldn't believe how well this car was. We're pretty sure we're going to park the (ARCA/CRA) Super Series car and run this tomorrow in the 251."He added.
Braden's night started off the best way possible as the Mountaineer State driver sporting the colors of his college that he attends (West Virginia University) broke the track record over the 32-car field in Boyne Machine Qualifying. He then drew the minimum inversion of a three (3) which placed Budweiser Super Late Model Series (Berlin Raceway's Template Bodied Series) regulars, Chris Koslek and another 19-year-old, Seth Moody on the front row of the 26-car starting field.
Moody would beat Koslek to the first corner to grab the early lead, however Braden wasted no time from his inside second row starting spot and quickly got by Moody and set his sights on Moody for the top spot. On lap seven, Braden made his move and cleared Moody coming out of turn two to take the lead he would never relinquish the rest of the night. Braden opened up as much as a half a track lead on the rest of the field as he darted inside and outside of traffic to keep Moody and Koslek safely behind him. Not even restarts for six cautions that flew as well as one red flag.
Justin Ryan, the 2012 Berlin Super Stocks Track Champion, was the reason for the most serious incident of the evening on lap 36 as he went flying off of turn three and landed in the series of foam barriers and highway dividers that separate the track from the woods that line turns three and four. He was ok, but the car was destroyed and he was done for the evening.
Koslek would eventually be able to get by Moody on lap 64 and tried in vain to reel in the race long leader, but Braden was strong all night and after all was said and done, Braden, who had one JEGS/CRA triumph already on his resume when he scored the win back on October 15th, 2011 at Winchester Speedway during that seasons Winchester 400 weekend, added another important win to his resume at another historic track, this time in Marne, Michigan.
"They thought they [the other front runners] had something for us, but I hadn't even put it all on the table tonight." Continued Braden as he stood next to his winning machine clutching the JEGS/CRA Winners trophy. "We came up here this weekend with the goal of sweeping the entire weekend. I know it's a pretty lofty goal, especially here at Berlin and with all these strong competitors here this weekend for both races, but if we're anything like we were tonight in the 251 tomorrow, it's very possible." He ended.
Coming home in second place, a career high in his limited JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance starts was Grand Rapids, Michigan native, Chris Koslek. "I can't thank the guys enough for all there help this weekend. We fought a tight race car all night long tonight. We were fast this afternoon, but just way too tight at night to have anything for Travis (Braden)." The 26-year-old said. "We're happy though. This was a strong field here tonight and to come out of here second is real good for us." He added.
Making his first career JEGS/CRA start was 2012 Kalamazoo Speedway Outlaw Super Late Models Track Champion, Brian Bergakker who made the most of his debut as he finished on the podium in third in his #99 4J Trucking / Ford earning the first Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award of the night. "These cars are quite a bit different than what I'm used to with running an Outlaw car." Stated the 33-year-old who resides in near-by Lowell, Michigan. "You can really drive these cars pretty deep into the corner which took some getting used to, but tonight was a lot of fun and I hope we're able to run a few more of these shows later this year." He added.
A pair of Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year title contenders posted career high finishes as 17-year-old Kyle Crump, who qualified fifth fastest over the 32-car field, backed that up with an impressive fourth and earning the Howe Racing Enterprises Rookie of the Race Award for his efforts over 15-year-old Corey Deuser who completed the top five and with his career high showing, takes over the Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year points lead. The fourth different freshman in four races to do so.
Dan Leeck brought home a sixth place finish and pulled himself into an tie for the Overall Points Lead with 17-year-old Cody Coughlin who struggled to a 24th place finish as Jerrod Foley finished seventh from 19th, Tom Woodin from 21st earning him the second Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award, 14-year-old Rookie Jake Griffin from 18th and Josh Hobson would complete the top 10. 14-year-old Kody Evans picked up the Five Star Racecar Bodies Hard-Charger Award after starting 26th, he finished in 12th.
Braden's first career Boyne Machine Fast Qualifier Award over the 32-car field that was a 16.233 which was 0.125 seconds better than Brandon Hermiller's old mark of a 16.358 set back on September 10th, 2011 and he beat second fast qualifier, Moody by an impressive 0.274 seconds in time trials. Jimmy Novak would win the 15-Lap Last Chance Race over Robbie Johnson who barely edged Phil Bozell at the line for second place. Bozell and Evans finished in the top four to transfer into the main.
The Inaugural Battle at Berlin Weekend continues on Saturday, June 15th, as the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS take over the spotlight at Berlin Raceway with the first jewel in the $100,000 JEGS Triple Crown Series with the running of the Inaugural Battle at Berlin 251. In addition, if the Braden can repeat his JEGS/CRA performance from Friday night and score the victory on Saturday night, a $5,000 bonus is his.
As for the JEGS Triple Crown Series for the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS, apotential $100,000 is on the line and will go to the driver who can win all three legs of the series. After the Battle at Berlin 251, the Triple Crown continues with the Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Indiana on July 20th and concludes with the 42nd running of the Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Indiana on October 13th.
If one driver can win all three races, they will get a whopping $100,000 bonus. If someone can win two of the three Triple Crown events, that driver will receive a $10,000 bonus. If no driver wins at least two of the three Triple Crown events, the driver who accumulates the most points during those three events will receive a $5,000 bonus and the title of 2013 JEGS Super Late Model Triple Crown Series Champion.
The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance is back in action with the fifth race of the 2013 racing season at another historic speed plant, this time the famed 0.555 mile high-banked paved oval of Salem Speedway, located north of Louisville, Kentucky in Salem, Indiana on Saturday, June 22nd for the running of the Touchtone Energy 100 Presented by Focus Eyewear & JEGs.com.