EDDY MAKES LIKE THE OLD DAYS IN BERLIN by Jeremy Troiano
Veteran Looks As If He Is Playing Video Game With Pure Dominance
Use any catch phrase or racing cliché that you want… “Dominating.” “Schooling ‘em,” “Over powering,” “Teaching ‘em a lesson.” In the end, there was only one way to describe what Mike Eddy did to the rest of the ASA field on Saturday night at Berlin Raceway in Marne (MI)… that would be “ridiculous.”
Eddy made it look as if he were playing a video game on Saturday night and the 31 other drivers were racing at only 80% strength.
In just his third race in Jeff Miller’s #5, Eddy returned to victory lane for the 58th time in his career and first time since 1999 (LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway) in a dominating way. At the race’s mid point, Eddy had lapped THE ENTIRE FIELD with the exception of the second-place running car of Butch Miller and did so in easy fashion, often flying by cars as if they were standing still.
It was a vintage “Polar Bear” performance.
“The car was awesome tonight,” said Eddy, who hadn’t won at Berlin since 1993. “That just goes to show what hard work can
still really do. It was our third time in this car and that is a full week of hard work by everyone involved to get us here.
“I always told people that I was never retired, I was just unemployed. There is a lot of people who have called me to do this, but I don’t do it for nothing. I just want to thank Jeff Miller and everyone at Howe for this great car.”
It wasn’t as simple as it sounded though for Eddy. When it looked as if Eddy would cruise off into the warm Michigan night without a challenge, a couple of late cautions and varying pit strategy got three other heavy hitters, including Kevin Cywinski, Mike Garvey and Robbie Pyle all back on the lead lap, and back into the mix of things.
In fact, after the final pit stop of the night with less than 50 laps to go, Eddy came out fifth of the five cars on the lead lap and everyone had fresh tires.
But the “Polar Bear” wasn’t to be denied on this night in front of some of the most passionate ASA fans in the country.
Eddy slowly and methodically, even sometimes forcefully, worked his way to fourth, then third, then second and finally to the front of the field and took the lead from Miller for the victory with just six laps to go.
“There is only one reason we made the phone call three weeks ago to this man and that is because we knew he could get it done,” said team owner Jeff Miller. “He wasn’t done racing. We decided that we were going to make a change (parting ways with rookie driver Kyle Jones) and when we did, there was only one guy to call. We’ve been trying to do this for years and it just hasn’t worked out for various reasons. Here it is.
“I came close to a bunch of wins. When I ran with Robbie (Pyle) in 2000, we came close in a couple of them. We’ve had some good runs over the years. But this takes the cake.”
Despite the changing face of the race late in the going, the buzz was still about the return of the “Polar Bear” and the strength and pure power he showed on the track during two green flag runs that eventually ended with competition cautions, where Eddy put 30 cars one or more laps down.
“Mike Eddy pretty much took us all to school,” said Travis Kittleson.
“That was funny. He just tore us all up and spit us out tonight,” said Todd Kluever.
Eddy came out fifth during the last round of pit stops, but that didn't stop his charge to the front.
The race for second on back was a great one at the end of the night as well. Butch Miller held the second spot with less than five to go, but ended up fourth. However, it was fast work by his #52 Timber Wolf team that got him out in the lead following the last set of pit stops.
“We have the best pit crew out there by far,” said Miller. “I think we had too much spring in it and that cost us in the long run. We did a great job though. The first 10 laps I would run, we were the fastest car. The second 10, we were second fastest, then pretty soon we were the third fastest and then 10th fastest and so on. Pretty soon we
Butch Miller was the only other driver really able to lead laps late.
were worried about getting lapped so that is what we had to be careful with.
“Anytime one of the senior racers wins it is ok with me though,” added the hometown fan favorite. “It doesn’t matter which one it is. I like to see that us old guys can still do it.”
Pyle was able to bypass Miller for second-place near the end. It was a big time confidence booster for Pyle and Cywinski after both raced their way back onto the lead lap during green flag conditions in the late stages of the event.
“I didn’t think we were going to get (our lap) back because we might have called our pit strategy wrong,” said Pyle, last week’s winner in Mansfield (OH). “Naturally, someone has to get tires and we knew we would have a good chance at getting it back if we got tires on one stop and they didn’t and that is exactly what happened.
“That was 12 championships (between Eddy, Miller and Cywinski) that we were racing around at the end of the night. I guess that is pretty good company. I’m happy with this kind of finish.”
Mike Eddy returned to Victory Lane for the first time since 1999. (51 Photos)
“We did a fuel stop early and Eddy and Butch did tires which made them blistering fast and they almost put the whole field down,” said Cywinski. “It just all had to circulate back around and so we could be on their playing grounds. The first 120 laps were looking pretty bleak.
“But once things came full circle and we got tires on one stop and they didn’t, we were able to get back on the lead lap. That was the main goal was to get back on the lead lap and we did it. We didn’t have anything for Mike, so I just let him go when he was racing me there at the end. I just followed along and hoped I could get in some of his holes.”
Garvey, the only other driver on the lead lap in the final 50 laps, was assessed a penalty by ASA during his last stop for running over an air hose on pit road and had to come from the back of the field. Despite appearing to be the fastest car on the track at the end, Garvey had to settle for fifth place.
However, the night belonged to Mike Eddy, who won 30 years after winning his first ASA championship in 1974. It was a “domination, over powering” performance by Eddy.
It was… “ridiculous.”
All of the concentration in the world couldn't help Cywinski pull out the win.