The Berlin Raceway hosted the second-annual, Rowdy's Revenge event on Wednesday night, June 16. After a rainout on Tuesday, all the big names including Kyle Busch, A.J. Allmendinger, Chase Elliott and Ross Kenseth returned for the biggest night in the track's 60 year history.
The CRA Super Series last chance race was the first event of the night. These cars did not make the race by their qualifying times, thus they had to race their way in to the show; the top two would race their way in and the rest would have to rely on the kindness of a provisional. The #53 of Boris Jurkovic and #04 Phil Bozell started on the front row and had the advantage. Just as the field took the green flag for the 15 lap race, #52 Ricky Baker and #16 Kelsey Steele spun in turn two as #11 Nick Bonstell took a ride off of the backstretch and in to the foam. The field was then reset and they tried the start again. Once they got going, they settled into single-file racing; the only battle on the track was between the #78 Keith Herp and #190 Becca Kasten. The pace of the race was slowed when caution flew with four laps to go for debris on the frontstretch. On the restart, the #15 of Justin Ryan got a good jump on Bozell and after making contact going in to turn 1, Ryan skated past and tried to reel leader, Jurkovic, in. There were not enough laps to catch him, but he and Jurkovic both raced their way in to the show.
Rowdy's Revenge 251 was the next event on tap and it was a full field of 30 cars. Local favorites #21 Terry VanHaitsma and defending race winner #20 Brain Campbell started on the front row and just behind them were fast qualifier #51 Kyle Busch and #25 Ross Kenseth. From the drop of the green flag, Campbell was quick to clear VanHaitsma and started to pull away; Busch also made quick work of VanHaitsma, passing him for second on lap two and setting his sights on Campbell. The top 6 ran single-file and the first battle for position was between the #121 Robbie Pyle and #10 Ryan Blaney. The #9 of Chase Elliott was on the move early; after starting 8th, he had made his way up to the third position just as Busch closed in on Campbell for the lead. Busch ran Campbell up the race track on the backstretch and took the lead on lap 13, however, Campbell was not letting him pull away. He was steadily making ground up on Busch and then Elliott joined the battle.
Just as cars were starting to get put a lap down by leader, Busch, the caution came out on lap 19 for the spinning cars of #15 Justin Ryan and #84 Jay Niewiek in turn three. All of the restarts in this race would be double-file, so that put Busch on the pole and Campbell on the outside. On the restart, Campbell staying strong on the outside, constantly challenging Busch for the lead and a little further back in the field, #61 Johnny VanDoorn was rocketing through the field, cracking the top five after starting in 12th. Back to the lead, Busch, Campbell and Elliott continued to contend for the lead. While Elliott was putting the pressure on Campbell, Busch was quietly pulling away. Elliott finally got past Campbell on lap 38 and then he started to reel in the leader.
Lap 43 saw the leaders stuck in lapped traffic and that let Campbell and Elliott close in on Busch. Just two laps later, Elliott used the #90 of Tim Curry and Ryan as a pick to get past Busch and take the lead. Elliott started to check out on the field, but a caution on lap 63 would bunch the field back up. The #90 of Tim Curry spun on the frontstretch and the Bozell machine would also encounter problems, coming to a stop in turn 1. The restart came on lap 76 with just 18 cars on the lead lap and the top four were Elliott, Busch, Campbell and Kenseth. Elliott and Busch stayed side-by-side, but after deciding that the inside was the preferred line, Busch dropped back and took that lane instead. He still couldn't get past Kenseth, though, and while the top two were slugging it out for position, Campbell caught back up to them.
Leader, Elliott, had caught the tail of the field on lap 90 and he started to pick his way though with Busch in hot pursuit. The fourth position was also up for grabs with #155 Chris Anthony pressuring Kenseth. He almost had him cleared, but caution came out on lap 102, so his progress was halted. The field restarted on lap 111 and Busch wasted no time tucking in behind Elliott and sticking his nose to his inside. The pair rode side by side for a handful of laps before Elliott pulled away again, but Busch started to battle back as they approached the halfway mark, but it was Elliott who would take the checkers at the break.
The field was restarted on lap 126 and Elliott picked up right where he left off and on the restart, Campbell slipped past Busch who had restarted on the outside. Instead of challenging the leaders, Busch found himself trying to hold off the hard-charging cars of Kenseth and VanDoorn. Busch shook them off, but Kenseth and VanDoorn had the most intense battle throughout the entire night for the fourth position. Anthony made his way up to join that battle and while he and VanDoorn raced hard, it gave Kenseth a small break. Lap 144 saw just the fourth caution of the race for Niewiek and #120 Mike Bursley spinning coming out of turn four. It was a quick caution and the race was back to green on lap 149. Busch went back to the lead, but then the caution came out again for the #11 of Nick Bonstell spinning on the backstretch. After a quick track check, the green flag was back out on lap 158.
Busch got a great restart and had no problem maintaining the lead. On lap 163, Kenseth and VanDoorn found each other again and thus began another exciting battle for fourth. Kenseth would pull away on the backstretch, but VanDoorn would catch him going in to turn two. While they were battling for position, Anthony and VanHaitsma were waiting to see which line would move first. All the while, the leaders, Busch, Campbell and Elliott, were putting major distance between themselves and the rest of the field. Caution number 6 was out on lap 175, #19 Brandon Watson spun on the backstretch. Campbell got a good restart on lap 181, but the leaders went back to single-file racing shortly after.
Anthony resumed chasing Kenseth and on lap 184, he claimed the position coming out of turn 2. Just ten laps later, caution came out because Bonstell spun again. This gave the teams a chance to perform live pit stops. Notable drivers who took to the pits on this caution were Kenseth and Campbell. Campbell would restart in the 15th position. It appeared that that the fresh tires might have been to blame for the pile up coming out of turn four involving the cars of #00 Andy Ponstein, Campbell, VanHaitsma, Bozell and #222 Caleb Bisacky and this would take Campbell out of the race. On the restart (lap 210), Busch and Elliott began to pull away from the field, running nose to tail. The car on the move was Kenseth, who was using his fresher tires for all they were worth, but he was still four seconds behind the leaders.
Lap 230 saw the leaders back in traffic and that worked well for Elliott the last time he was trying to get around Busch. They both wove their way through traffic and a handful of cars were still ahead of them. Caution 9 on lap 223 for debris put a damper on watching them make their way through. The restart came on lap 238 and Kenseth muscled past Elliott for second and just after that, more debris was spotted in turn 2. With six laps to go, it looked like Kenseth spun his tires on the restart, letting Elliott get past get past. Trouble for Bonstell again on that lap when he spun and Niewiek piled in to him and while that happening, there was another pile up in turn 4 involving Curry, #151 Alec Carll, #161 Ross Meeuwsen, VanHaitsma and Bisacky.
The cars would have just five laps left and Kenseth was all over Elliott for second leaving Busch just enough breathing room to finally get the win at Berlin Raceway. The rest of the top ten were Elliott, Kenseth, Jurkovic, Anthony, VanDoorn, Blaney, #121 Robbie Pyle, #115 Joey Miller and Meeuwsen.
The Modifieds, who had ran their race during the break of Rowdy's Revenge 251, saw #84 Mike Brooks and #78 Travis Eddy on the front row. The field was quick to go single-file for their 50-lap race... all but fast qualifier, #97 A.J. Allmendinger. He was showing his muscle early on, mixing it up with #12 Brain Bergakker and #8 Billy Eppink on lap 4. Allmendinger took fourth on lap 5 and then started reeling in #2 Kyle Jones as Brooks checked out. On lap 12, Allmendinger had made his was up to second and slowly began chopping down Brooks' lead by two-tenths each lap. On lap 21 he was at Brooks' bumper, but couldn't seem to get under him, however, he still had more than half of the race go. The leaders were coming up on slower cars, but before they had a chance to contend with lapped traffic, Allmendinger pulled even and then made the pass on lap 30 for the lead. The first and only caution came out on lap 46 after Jones and Eppink spun on the frontstretch. This set up a 4-lap, single-file shootout. Bergakker was catching Allmendinger, but there was not enough time. Allmendinger earned the win and the rest of the top ten were Bergakker, Brooks, Eddy, #15 Chris Stearns, #6 Ben Kleis, #88 Matt Bainbridge, #39 Bobby Murnay, Eppink and #25 David Carter.
Next up at Berlin Raceway on June 19 is Kerkstra Services Pro Stock Night featuring the Kerkstra Services Pro Stocks, Engine Pro Super Stocks, Burnips Equipment 4-Cyilnders and the Great Lakes Outlaw Late Models. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60+, $5 for kids 6-12 and those five and under are free. For more information, please visit www.berlinraceway.com.