Berlin Raceway hosts first JEGS/CRA $100,000 Triple Crown Series race of the season
Marne, Michigan (Tuesday, June 16, 2015): After an extended vacation, the fifth race of the 2015 racing season for the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS was also be one of the biggest and highest paying races in North America. The Battle at Berlin 251 Presented by Primera Plastics served as round #1 of the JEGS/CRA $100,000 Super Late Model Triple Crown Series on a special Tuesday night, June 16th at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan. $10,000 awaits the winner with the 30-car starting field getting a minimum of $2,000 just to start the prestigious event.
In six previous incarnations of what is now the Battle at Berlin 251, Brian Campbell won what was the Rowdy 251 back in 2009 while NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star, Kyle Busch won the next three events from 2010-2012. When the race emerged at what is known today as the Battle at Berlin 251, Three-Time ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion, Johnny VanDoorn has won the last two races of the prestigious race. In the 2015 version of the prestigious event, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star, Erik Jones overcame a previous day practice crash, climbed into a backup car and with 48 laps to go, took the lead from Ross Kenseth and went on to scored a $10,000+ payday.
“These guys worked so hard. We brought a brand new car here for practice on Monday and wrecked pretty hard. We just KO’d it. These guys at Port City went and put another car together late last night. It’s amazing, man.” The emotional 19-year-old driver of the #61 Port City Racecars / Pioneer Construction / Toyota explained in victory lane after the race. “They worked so hard and I wanted to win for them so bad. They really deserved it. It’s been a while since we’ve won this year. We’ve led a lot of laps and have had fast trucks and cars, but it’s been about a month and a half of disappointment and hardship. This turned everything around and it feels great.” The Byron, Michigan driver added.
After JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance point’s leader, Dalton Armstrong won the Toyota / EDCO Welding Pole award, worth $1,000; it was Armstrong and Two-Time Reigning Series Champion, Travis Braden leading the stacked 31-car field to Chief Starter, Scott Menlen’s green flag to start the Battle at Berlin 251. Armstrong shot out to the lead as the rest of the field jockeyed for position behind him. 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, Chase Elliott, who started fourth, climbed his way to second and stalked Armstrong for several laps early on.
On lap 29, the 19-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia standout drove around Armstrong to take the top spot. Three cautions slowed the pace between laps 38-79 and during the green flag periods, Chad Finley had worked his way up to the second spot. On the ensuing restart working on lap 80, Finley got around Elliott to take over the top spot only to see Elliott recoil and reclaim the lead on lap 98. A lengthy green flag run was slowed by a caution on lap 159 which saw all of the lead lap cars make their first pit stops of the race for two tires and fuel.
Elliott came out first and was trailed by Erik Jones and Ross Kenseth. Another caution right after the restart would see most of the leaders head back down pit road for two more tires. Kenseth and Lauren Bush were the only two drivers that stayed out on two tires while the rest of the leaders now had four fresh Hoosier Racing Tires on their machines giving the lead to Kenseth. In what was the final slowdown of the race on lap 185, the outside lane was delayed in getting going forcing a big stack up of cars behind the leaders and drawing the red flag.
Among the contenders involved included Terry Senneker Jr., Bubba Pollard, Christopher Bell, Dominique Van Wieringen, Braden, Finley, Brian Campbell, 17-year-old Hunter Baize and 2013 rookie of the year, Ali Kern. Senneker Jr., Braden and Finley were done for the night while the rest, all with damage, was able to continue. Kenseth maintained the lead on what would be the final restart, but now had Jones, who missed the pileup, on his back bumper. Jones worked on Kenseth for several laps and they battled side by side before Jones put himself in the lead for good on lap 205.
From there, it was all Jones the rest of the way as he pulled away from the rest of the pack leaving Kenseth to battle with 18-year-old John Hunter Nemechek and Berlin regular, Chris Koslek for second through fourth. Jones, who wrecked his primary car in practice the day before was forced to a backup car provided by fellow competitor, Brian Campbell and Port City Racecars and his two days in Marne, Michigan went from the lowest of lows to the highest pinnacle when he took the checkered flag first. He also claimed the first Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award for his efforts.
“Honestly after we wrecked yesterday I wanted to go back home. I was ready to go back and visit the east side of the state. I was convinced to stay over and race today and I thought it was a good idea to get back out there and try to get a win and it was the right decision.” Continued the 2011 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Champion. “This is pretty special. There’s a ton of family and a whole lot of friends here. It was definitely pretty emotional when I crossed the line. It was kind of hard to keep it together with about two to go and especially taking the white.” He ended.
Jones is now the only driver eligible for the $100,000 bonus since he has won the Battle at Berlin 251. If he goes on to win the Stoops Freightliner Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway on July 18th, and the 44th Running of the Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway on October 11th, where he is the Two-Time Reigning Winner, he’ll get the unprecedented $100,000 payday. There is a $10,000 bonus if a driver can win two of the events. If no driver wins two of the Triple Crown events, the driver who accumulates the most points during those three events will receive a $5,000 bonus and the title of 2015 JEGS/CRA $100,000 Super Late Model Triple Crown Series Champion.
A daring late race three-wide pass to claim the second spot earned Koslek the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race award and he tied a career high finish in the ARCA/CRA Super Series with his runner-up showing. The 28-year-old Grand Rapids, Michigan native started 10th in his #23 West Michigan Tool & Accessories / Chevrolet also finished second for his best career showing back on June 10th, 2009 in what was the Rowdy 125.
Nemechek finished third in his first ever appearance at the famed West Michigan fairgrounds speed plant. The 18-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver in his #8 S.W.M. Gun Runners / Chevrolet. The Mooresville, North Carolina rising star, the 2014 Snowball Derby Winner and three-time victory lane visitor in 2014 with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour followed Koslek by Kenseth late in the race when Koslek made it three-wide, to claim the final podium spot. Nemechek also earned the FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Under Pressure Award for his run.
After leading twice for a total of 147 laps, earning the VanDoorn Racing Development Lap Leader award, Elliott’s #9 Rocky Ridge Custom Trucks / Chevrolet would bring home a fourth place finish in a rare off day from his NASCAR commitments. The 19-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia star, who will race full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2016, beat out Kenseth who rounded out the top five. Kenseth, in his #25 Boyne Machine Company / Ford, the 2014 ARCA/CRA Super Series runner-up was making his first appearance of the 2015 racing season in the series. The Little Chute, Wisconsin driver was coming off of his first career ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards victory at near-by Michigan International Speedway on June 12th.
Jay Niewiek overcame going a lap down twice to score a sixth finish and earn the second Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award as well as the C.V. Racing Products Hard-Charger award after originally starting 25th. Bell, in his first ever appearance at Berlin Raceway and driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, also went a lap down and was involved in the mammoth lap 185 wreck, rallied to score the Hedman Hedders Husler award to finish where he started in seventh.
Campbell, who was also involved in the melee on lap 185, but recovered for an eighth place showing while Andrew Nylaan, a track regular in the weekly Boyne Machine Company Super Late Model Series finished ninth after starting 28th as 16-year-old Grant Quinlan, the overall and rookie of the year points leader, maintained both leads while completing the top 10. Quinlan also scored the Senneker Performance Rookie of the Race award as well.
In addition, Toyota paid out several big cash bonuses including three New Star Bonuses of $2,500, $1,000 and $500 to the top three finishers who have never finished in the top five in a Berlin Late Model event. Those were claimed by John Hunter Nemechek, Jay Niewiek and Christopher Bell. The $1,000 Fast Qualifier Bonus went to Dalton Armstrong while the $500 Hard Luck Award went to Terry Senneker Jr. The $500 Most Laps Lead Bonus and the $500 Halfway Leader Bonus was both claimed by Chase Elliott. In all total, over $100,000 in cash and bonuses was distributed
Earlier in the afternoon in Toyota / EDCO Welding Pole Qualifying, Armstrong’s 16.203 was good enough to give the New Castle, Indiana driver the P1 starting spot in the 251. Armstrong’s lap over the 32 cars on the property measured out to 97.315mph. The ARCA/CRA Super Series Track Record still belongs to Three-Time Series Champion, Scott Hantz who turned a 15.829 back on October 10th, 2009.
The next event on the schedule for the cars and stars of the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS is on Saturday, June 27th as the 1/3 (0.333) mile semi-banked circular-shaped paved oval of Columbus Motor Speedway in Columbus, Ohio serves as hosts of the 2nd Annual Bud St. Amant Memorial 125. This event will mark the 10th all-time appearance at the track for CRA’s premier tour at the Buckeye State capital.
Two-Time Reigning Series Champion, Travis Braden scoring the most recent win in what was the Inaugural Bud St. Amant Memorial in 2014. In addition, Three-Time Series Champion, Scott Hantz and 2003 Series Champion, Bobby Parsley have also visited victory lane in Columbus, Ohio. So has Canadian Legend, Junior Hanley while Brian Campbell and his Father, Fred Campbell. Plus Ross Kenseth, Jack Landis and Robbie Pyle have also all earned trips to victory lane.
For more information about the 2015 racing season for all four touring series’ within Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS, go to the new and improved series website located at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow along with all of CRA’s touring series’ on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/CRAracing Finally, for more information about Columbus Motor Speedway, the host track for the sixth race of the year for the ARCA/CRA Super Series, go to the track website at: www.columbusspeedway.com
The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is among the leading auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country. Founded in 1953 by John and Mildred Marcum, the organization administers more than 100 events each year in multiple racing series, including the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the ARCA Truck Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour, plus weekly racing at Toledo and Flat Rock Speedways.