Just days after racing at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, one of the longest tracks on the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards schedule at 2.5 miles, the national stock car tour travels this week to the 0.44-mile Berlin Raceway near Grand Rapids, Mich. for a Saturday night short track show that is sure to be memorable.
The 200-lap, 88-mile Berlin ARCA 200 begins at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, August 7, with live timing and scoring featured on ARCARacing.com and live audio coverage presented by the BAS Racing Network also available on ARCARacing.com. Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford) is the leading winner at the track, with three victories (1999, 2003, 2004).
The race is the first of four in pursuit of the Bill France Four Crown, the season-within-a-season contest which rewards ARCA Racing Series drivers for success on a diverse slate of tracks. The Four Crown schedule is comprised completely of the ARCA Racing Series races scheduled for August, to be held at Berlin (short track), New Jersey Motorsports Park (road course; August 15), the (Springfield) Illinois State Fairgrounds (dirt track; August 22), and Chicagoland Speedway (1.5-mile speedway; August 27). Parker Kligerman won Four Crown honors last season before finishing second in the final series standings.
Berlin Raceway is more than just a standard short track, however. A demanding 90-degree angle between the first two turns in the speedway's northern end is required for drivers to navigate onto pit road, which itself is quirky in that teams pit on both sides of a single, straight lane. Upon leaving pit road, the heavy stock cars of the ARCA Racing Series will face the challenge of completing a 180-degree turn back onto the Turn 4 area of the track. Additionally, Berlin Raceway is alone among ARCA Racing Series host tracks in that it does not have a backstretch retaining wall. In all, Berlin Raceway is one-of-a-kind and makes for some truly fantastic on-track moments.
"I really enjoy Berlin," said Kimmel, who holds nine ARCA Racing Series championships in addition to his three Berlin Raceway wins. "We have had a lot of success there and won a few races there. It's a quirky little race track. It's not all about power, and it's not about aerodynamics. None of that really plays into the outcome of the race at Berlin. It's more about how to get your car handling in order to get enough power so you can get through and up off the turns."
Kimmel is currently third in the series point standings, 70 points behind leader Justin Marks and 40 behind Craig Goess for second place. To advance toward a 10th series championship, Kimmel must endure the diverse ARCA schedule.
"It's what the ARCA Racing Series is all about. Every week it seems like we have something different. It's not something you consciously think about doing; you just know that it's the next race and the next place you go," Kimmel said. "None of the stuff that you do at Pocono will go over to what you do at Berlin so it's just a different mindset. In the ARCA Series, we run such different places all the time."
Les Snow won from the pole in the inaugural ARCA race at Berlin on July 25, 1958, paving the way for Saturday's series visit, which will be the 23rd to Marne in ARCA history. Joining Kimmel as multiple ARCA winners at the track are Tim Steele, Bob James, and Brian Keselowski, with two wins each. Keselowski's father, Bob, the 1989 ARCA Racing Series champion, won at Berlin in 1986 for the first of the family's three wins in its home state.
The ARCA Racing Series has raced every season at Berlin Raceway since 1999, and eventual series champion Justin Lofton won last year's race, which was extended to 207 laps. Lofton was the seventh driver to win from the pole at the track.
Robb Brent (No. 36 Orchard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Dodge), winner of the ARCA Racing Series event at Pocono Saturday, is looking forward to racing in his home state. Brent, 23, is from Shelby Township, Mich.
"Coming off the win at one of my favorite tracks, it's nice that we can carry the momentum to my home state of Michigan," Brent said. "Berlin is a good, old Midwestern short track, with a lot of history and some amazing fans. I'm ready to get back to the track and race already."
Of drivers that finished in the top 10 at Berlin last year, Joey Coulter (fifth), Goess (seventh), Bryan Silas (ninth), and Tom Hessert (10th) are entered for Saturday's event.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards features 20 events at 17 tracks on its 2010 schedule. The series has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 racetracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as left- and right-turn street and road courses.
Founded by John Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in two professional touring series and local weekly events.