MARNE, Mich. – Johnny VanDoorn finally broke through at his home track on Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, winning the ARCA/CRA Super Series Battle at Berlin and taking home the $15,000 top prize.
The Coopersville, Mich., native picked up his second win of the 2013 racing season in two starts, his 15th career Champion Racing Ass’n Powered by JEGS victory to move into sole possession of fourth all-time, but in his previous 14 wins, none of those came at his home track, a mere 10 minutes from home, until the first jewel in the $100,000 JEGS Triple Crown Series.
“I’ve won a few of these races in my career, but this one tops them all. We’ve been trying since 2006, my first year in the ARCA/CRA Super Series to win one of these races here,” said VanDoorn. “Many times we’ve had a car capable of winning, but too often, bad luck would win out, Tonight, things went our way and I couldn’t be happier for this team.
VanDoorn’s night started off with his second EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award of the season over the 35-car field and with the event an extended distance race, he would start the Inaugural Battle at Berlin 251 from the pole position.
He was scheduled to start next to 19-year-old Travis Braden, the 2012 ARCA/CRA Rookie of the Year, who won the previous night in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance event and was seeking the $5,000 bonus offered by the track if the same driver could win both events during the weekend.
However Braden’s car wouldn’t fire once the command to fire the engines was given due to coil wire going bad, which forced him to pit. He would have to start the race from last in the 32-car starting field. This moved T.J. Reaid up to the outside front row starting spot, but it would be VanDoorn grabbing the early lead and after surviving the first of 13 cautions on the first lap.
VanDoorn would pace the field for the first 103 laps of the 251-lap affair with Chad Finley, who after battling with an impressive Kyle Jones for the first 33 laps as both got by Reaid on the start for second and third, would take over second spot. All the while VanDoorn kept Finley at a safe distance behind him to set the early tone of the race by placing several lapped cars between him and Finley.
A caution on lap 102 slowed the field down and the first round of pit stops occurred with all of the lead lap cars coming down pit road for fresh Hoosier Racing Tires and a fuel cell full of Sunoco Racing Fuel. After the stops, it would be Ross Kenseth who would inherit the lead starting on lap 104 as he had 2011 ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion & Rookie of the Year, Derrick Griffin on his back bumper as neither driver pitted.
On lap 110, Griffin, who was subbing for Joe Beaver for the second time in three points races this season, grabbing the lead away from Kenseth and begin pulling away from the field. VanDoorn had worked his way back up to second spot and was content to riding behind Griffin as the race reached the halfway point on lap 126. Griffin would collect the Holley Carburetors Halfway Leader Award as well as the VR-12 Halfway Leader Award he was the first driver to see the crossed flags.
The most serious incident of the night occurred on lap 138 when Terry VanHaitsma slammed the turns three and four wall collecting Brent Downey, who was making his first ARCA/CRA Super Series start since the 2004 season, as well as Landon Cling, Tim DeVos and Jay Niewiek in the process as all five drivers were done for the night and a Red Flag was in order to speed up the clean-up process.