Wolverine Bests Buckeye and More at Berlin by Bob Dillner
Campbell Comes from the Back to Dust 'Em in ASA Challenge in Michigan
Brian Campbell sits in the pits after a little incident on the track. He came back to win anyways. (51 Photos)
The roles were reversed this year, making everything right in the world of Berlin Raceway once again.
The speedway is hallowed ground for Michigan racers and the ASA tradition has been alive at the 3/8's of a mile racetrack for years. In comparison, Michigan football is laced with tradition and Berlin is just a couple hours from the land of the “Big House,” the university's famed stadium. With both arenas, an outsider is not supposed to come in and dance in the hometeam's end zone. That happened last year when “Buckeye Bullet” Robbie Pyle put a hurtin' on the local boys. In this year's ASA Late Model Challenge Series event, Michiganders redeemed themselves, thanks for a performance for the ages by Brian Campbell.
Campbell was strong, as always, at Berlin, but what he had to overcome to pull into victory lane during the “Tradition 200” at Berlin was remarkable. Campbell was involved in an incident on lap 41 that tore the right front fender from the car, knocked the “toe” out and forced him to pit road.
“Somebody spun and I was under Robbie and I just clipped him and that's what got the fender,” explained Campbell. “The toe was knocked all crazy. I came in and Bill (McGowan, former ASA National Championship crew chief) just grabbed the tire-rod and started wrenching on it. He got me straight. That's why he's so good.”
Campbell (#77) works on Robbie Pyle for the lead.
“I am really happy tonight. We never run well here,” stated Dassow. “This is what the team needed; we've been having bad luck this year. We had tire problems and it's just disappointing when you have cars you know can win races and you have stupid stuff happen that you can't control. We've been having bad luck this year, but I think we got past the rough part of the season. We should be good now.”
Dassow did have the lead at the halfway break, but contact with Cozzolino took him from the top spot just after green flag racing resumed.
“He just drives it in so deep,” explained Dassow. “Normally everywhere we go he does that and I just barely had him cleared. I was lifting early to get it turned good and he just had a run on me. It was one of those racing deals. I wish it wouldn't have happened because I think I could have held him off, but it happens.”
SURPRISE, SURPRISE! MURPHY DOESN'T WIN
Brian Campbell in victory lane at Berlin.
The second generation driver then drove from the rear of the field and by lap 79 he was back in tenth, and then seventh by the halfway break.
“I really wasn't beating the car up coming through there. I was surprised how far we came up through there without really pounding on the car. A couple years ago I watched Mike Eddy destroy his left side tires by pounding the car and I knew I couldn't do that if I wanted something at the end.”
Campbell certainly did have something for the end and something for the “Buckeye Bullet.” On lap 182 Campbell got by Pyle only to have the caution come out. Since ASA reverts to the lap prior, Pyle was put back in the top spot.
“I was actually laughing because my car owner, he can't watch this stuff. He was pacing back-and-forth, in the trailer, out of the trailer, they (crew) are all telling me about it so I'm laughing. I think if I got by him (Pyle) then, I don't think Peter (Cozzolino) could have gotten by him or it would have let me get ahead enough.”
Same act, take two was for the better. The Wolverine disposed of the Buckeye the tough way, on the outside with eight laps to go.
“He is so smooth, but he is so protective of the bottom that I knew I had to go up top. I knew we could do it and once we got by him I was more worried about Pete because I knew he was fast. And I kinda got into him passing him and retaliation would have been justified, so I was really worried about him.”
Cozzolino did get back by Pyle, but never quite could catch the BOYNE #77. And even though Campbell's car is red and white, it was truly maze and blue in victory lane.
“Finally, finally. The Wolverine is back in victory lane,” said an elated Campbell. “The green car (Pyle) couldn't win this time; we weren't going to let it happen. We had to bring it back to Port City (which is Campbell's car builder, Pyle runs a Howe chassis car), bring it back to Michigan.
“To bring it back to Michigan, especially with it being Father's Day weekend and since my Dad (10-time Berlin Raceway track champion, Fred) is here, is the best. I was so upset last year; it was embarrassing. (Campbell crashed with a handful of laps to go while running in the top-three.) It's huge to make a strong run and get this here. Huge! Huge!”
In addition to being “huge,” it was also lucky, as one of Campbell's tires was losing air in victory lane.
“14-pounds in the left rear tire; it was going flat on me,” explained Campbell, whose victory was his second career ASA Challenge Series triumph. “Woo! Five more laps and it wouldn't have been anything. We keep on having to put air in it to go across the scales. Lucky!”
COZZOLINO ON THE EDGE - BUT ON TOP OF ASA CHALLENGE
Nobody drove any harder than Peter Cozzolino in the “Tradition 200.” Cozzolino started the race sixth and grabbed the lead just past the halfway mark. Just three laps later he slipped and Pyle got by him for the lead. He grabbed the lead once again, only to have a caution come out and well, you know the drill, ASA reverts back the previous lap and Cozzolino lost the lead again.
“We never gave up,” said Cozzolino, who has scored three podium finishes in a row in ASA Challenge competition to put him in the point lead. “We were really good on the long runs and the cautions really kind of bit us in the butt. It was pretty pivotal when we got by Robbie and had the lead and had a yellow come out right away. If that caution had not come out I don't think there's any way they could have got us.
“We got put back behind him and it set us up for Brian to have a chance at us. He was better on the short run and we started catching him back on the last few laps, but we didn't have enough time.”
Defending Series champ Travis Dassow has not been himself this year. Without a podium finish coming into the fourth race of the season, Dassow's third place run was a blessing in disguise.
To say the least, Sean Murphy has been on fire this year. He had won all three ASA Challenge Series races coming into Berlin Raceway's event. He was strong at the Michigan oval; in fact, he led a good chunk of the laps early on. Yet, the car was not nearly as good as the three or four cars in front of him for the last half of the race.
“It does feel a little weird (not to win),” said Murphy. “It's just a tricky place, one of those joints where experience beats the young guys. If we had a little more time, who knows, but what can you do? Butch (Miller) and the guys put a good car under me and we would have been on the podium.”
MURPHY MAD ABOUT CONTACT WITH PYLE ON LAST LAP
We here at Speed51.com know Robbie Pyle pretty well. The acronyms to explain his driving style are poised, calculated and certainly clean. He's not one to rough it up with drivers on the track. Oh, he'll drive the car to the limits, but never beyond; with that in mind, has he reminded us of Cup veteran Mark Martin.
Yet, even guys like Robbie Pyle make mistakes. Pyle made contact with Murphy while battling for third coming off the fourth turn on the final lap.
“I guess somebody lost talent,” said Murphy, who fell to 17th. “I tried passing him clean and we ran side-by-side, but don't know what happened.
“I saw that we came up on the 86-car (Jimmy Lang) and I left him room, but I don't know if he lost his front-end or whatever, but he jacked me up. What can you do?”
As soon as the interview was concluded Pyle walked up to Murphy to apologize about the incident. Murphy did not say much, but Pyle knew it was his mistake.
“I don't know if he was trying to hold me down or whatever, but we got loose and got together,” said Pyle, who finished fourth. “We were both hanging on there… I just wanted to say sorry.”
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS DEON DENEAU?
Deon Deneau has been around the short track realm for quite some time. He's been a championship crew chief for Tim Sauter on the old ASA National Tour and most recently the winning crew chief for Sean Murphy's three victories to start the ASA Challenge Series season.
Last week we got word that he was out at the Murphy team and Berlin proved that to be the truth as Butch Miller was crew chief for the young racer. A lot of people wanted to know what happened.
“I don't know,” stated Murphy. “He just called up and quit.”
Deneau was actually just a few pit stalls away. He is now the crew chief for ASA regular Kris Stump.
“It wasn't anything against SS (Racing),” explained Deneau. “They have moved on with the Truck stuff and that's the way ASI and Ken Smith wants to go and I respect that, but I want to stay in the short track world and close to Indy.
“5K (Racing team) is going to allow me to build a shop and a new entity of the team down in Indy. That's my future for the next couple of years. I like Kris and you need good chemistry between a driver and crew chief and I think a little bit of that showed up tonight.”
Stump ran in the top-five for much of the evening and wound up seventh at the conclusion of the 200-laps.
“It was a good start for Deon and I working together,” said Stump. “We got a bad set of tires yesterday and that put us behind. We basically wasted yesterday (practice) and half of today because of that. Once we got that sorted out it was better and I think if it wasn't for that we would have had a winning car.
“I picked Deon up in Indianapolis on Wednesday morning at 7 and we went up to Wisconsin and worked about 20-hours straight trying to get what he wanted on the car. We don't have everything quite yet, but with these two weeks in between here and Mansfield we should be ready to rock and roll.”
HOFFMAN BAD AND GOOD
Eddie Hoffman is a gritty veteran racer who knows how to win, even at Berlin. He struggled during the ASA Challenge race to a 13th place finish, but wound up winning the 50-lap USPRO event afterwards with a late-race pass of Keith Herp. Hoffman is now two-for-two in USPRO competition this year.
“It wasn't as dominant as Grundy (County Speedway); I had my hands full; it was a lot of work. I think it's more fun that way though,” said Hoffman. “He got up there a couple times and one time I got under him and I thought he might be coming down and he did. So the next time he got up there and got loose, I made sure I was along side of him. We got some tire marks on there from it. We touched, but we ended up straight enough to keep on going.
“This at least lets me know that the driver can still drive a racecar. Everybody has doubts here and there and this place has been hard for us as a team. We're a team and we know it's us and the team. But it is nice to know I can at least get something around the track.”
Deon Deneau (L) and Kris Stump.