With the temperature in the high 60’s, a large opening day crowd and 90 cars in the pits, the Inaugural Cabin Fever 200 presented by The Newton Center on Sunday afternoon was all set to be an exciting day at Plymouth Speedway. The racing lived up to the set up with three first time feature winners taking home the victories in exciting racing for all three CRA divisions. Keith Sterkowitz, the first Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Champion, took home his first win after moving through the field and making a bold move to get past former Plymouth Speedway champion Brian Ross. Josh Nelms led flag to flag in the CRA Street Stocks despite a strong challenge from Scott Neal in the waning laps of the race. David Bice came from the rear of the field in the Vore’s Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compacts feature to get the victory.
Randy Pressler set a new track record for the CRA Street Stocks with a lap of 15.037 seconds, breaking the old record held by Rodney Spencer. The top six qualifiers each broke the old record. That set the stage for a fast day of qualifying as all three divisions broke the standing track records. The top five qualifiers in the Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman Series broke Keith Sterkowitz’s record with Derrick Griffin setting the AllStar Performance Fast Time, and the top three broke Robert Reed’s record with the Vore’s Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compacts with David Bice coming out on top.
With the starting field for the races limited to 28 cars, there were last chance races for the CRA Street Stocks and the Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman, with both divisions having a total of 65 cars at the track. Larry Lathan and Billy Van Meter raced their way into the Street Stock feature. Bill Griffith, Clay Deplancy, Howard Kelly, Mark Parker, Jerry Andrews and Gabe Hess raced their way into the Late Model Sportsman feature.
The first feature of the day was the CRA Street Stock feature. Josh Nelms started on the outside of the front row and jumped out to the lead on the first lap. He stayed out front while the racing behind him was furious, with the drivers racing in packs and bouncing off each other as they fought for position. Scott Neal worked his way up from the ninth starting position to second, but by the time he cleared traffic Nelms had built a sizable lead, and Neal did not seem to have a chance to catch him. Then with only 10 laps to go a spin bunched up the field and put Neal right on Nelms bumper. Nelms pulled slightly ahead on the restart and then his running so far ahead and being able to treat his tires easier began to show as he pulled away from Neal in the last couple of laps. Bret Miles Jr. finished third, Eddie Wolf fourth and Chad Poorman fifth, coming out of a tight race in a pack of cars.
“I have to thank Dave Dotter for giving a great car.” Nelms stated. “I sort of got out front and just rolled around. The street stocks can be wild and crazy. I got out there and eased up some to save the tires and then the 17 car was coming at the end. I really needed my tires.”
Keith Sterkowitz was the 2006 Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Champion, beating Al Cook, Jr. by 21 points, but he had never won a series feature. “I have been told I am Mr. Consistency” Sterkowitz stated. At the Cabin Fever 200, he broke his own qualifying track record, but still finished third fastest. Starting on the outside of the fifth row, with such racers as Brian Ross, Steve Stacy, Lou and Bobby Stremme that each are very experienced at Plymouth Speedway this day did not look like the day he would take home the win. Sterkowitz had other ideas however, with a bold move on the 41st lap, driving deep into the third turn he was able to pass then leader Ross and take a lead he would never give up.
Joe Beaver finished second, giving Sterkowitz all he wanted before dropping back nearly a full second. Al Cook, Jr. was third, Derek Griffin was fourth and Steve Stacy was fifth. The racing throughout the field was spirited and included several cautions and one red flag for an accident coming out of the fourth turn when Brett Robinson spun causing Lou Stremme and Rick Rinehart to make hard contact with the front stretch wall. Stremme was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released.
“I have to thank the car owner John Marshall for giving me a ride.” Sterkowitz commented. “I was out of racing for a while, but John gave me a ride. This is the first time in four years my wife has been able to come to a race, and my kids were here also, so it is a special day to win.”
David Bice started at the tail of the Vore’s Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compacts feature after being the fast qualifier and having a total invert for the starting lineup. Bice worked his way through the field, rubbing fenders along the way, to get the lead with only 19 laps to go. The 50 lap Vore’s Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compacts feature was raced without a caution. Tim Dilg finished second, Justin Brown third, Mark Mason fourth and Patrick McNamara fifth. Dan Reimersma had his second place finish taken away after he failed post race tech.
“I had not been in a car for seven years and Blain Miller called and asked if I want to drive sometime this year.” Bice said. “He called last night and said ‘we are racing at Plymouth tomorrow’ so here I am!”
The next event for the CRA Street Stocks and Vore’s Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compacts will be at Winchester Speedway on May 2, along with the CRA Super Series. The Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman will race at Angola Motor Speedway on May 1. More information on all the CRA Series is available at www.craracing.net.