Terry VanHaitsma Pulls out the Rope-a-Dope on the Berlin Raceway Field
The rope-a-dope is a term usually associated with boxing, but Berlin Raceway Super Late Model driver Terry VanHaitsma showed Saturday night that it can be equally effective in stock car racing.
VanHaitsma, of Hudsonville, won the 125-lap feature race at the Marne half-mile, and he credited his strategy for being the difference.
The veteran driver started second in the 24-car field, but he backed off at the race’s start and played it cool. It turned out that VanHaitsma was just playing possum all along because he poured it on at the end.
VanHaitsma stormed back, grabbing the lead from Chris Anthony with 30 laps to go. He went on to beat out Tom Thomas, Ross Meeuwsen, Anthony and Moody for his first win of the season.
“These tires, especially when it’s this hot out, it’s easy to wear them out here,” VanHaitsma said. “I was trying to run really hard, but I didn’t want to run the same pace the guys up front were running. I dropped back a little bit and came to the front at the end when it really matters.”
The fact that VanHaitsma saved his tires early proved especially beneficial late because caution waved with five laps to go. However, VanHaitsma pulled away from the field on the restart.
“I was really worried about the restart because I know Tom has a little bit more motor than I have,” VanHaitsma said. “I didn’t want him to sneak around me on the outside, so I had to make sure I had a really good restart. I knew once I got in front of him that we would be fine. The car was really good all day, so I wasn’t worried about giving up the track position.”
Super Stock class has a first time winner
Will Olmsted could use a little practice when it comes to spinning donuts in his No. 78 Super Stock.
If he keeps driving like he did Saturday night, though, the 26-year old Marne native will have plenty more opportunities to work on his celebrations. Saturday’s victory in Berlin Raceway’s 30-lap Super Stock feature was the first win of his four-year career, and he beat out the track's hottest driver, Justin Ryan, to do it.
“I was trying to put on a little show here, but I broke the master cylinder,” said Olmsted, who needed to be pushed to Victory Lane after stalling his stock car on the Berlin frontstretch.
Olmsted didn’t need to spin donuts to put on a show, though. He had already done that earlier with his driving style. Justin Ryan had won the season’ first three Super Stock features before Olmsted snapped Ryan’s winning streak Saturday. Olmsted passed Ryan on lap 14, then held off Ryan by 0.687 seconds.
“I will probably remember this as long as I live,” Olmsted said.
It was a very good tonight for Kevin DeGood
While Olmsted won his first main, Kevin DeGood of Jenison captured his first win in Berlin’s Modified division. DeGood, who had previously won three Sportsman mains, is racing for the Racingawareness.com team this year. DeGood worked on the team’s crew a year ago, which won a championship with Dave Lake.
“This is phenomenal,” DeGood said. “The competition is really strong. There are not many cars in this class, but the guys that are here are really good. It’s nice to beat guys in this class that have been racing for a few years, and this is my fourth night in it.
“We have just been doing our maintenance and doing our homework back at the shop this week. We have done a lot of work to the car, fixing the little damage we got to it last week.”
Mike Speet of Holland captured his third 4 Cylinder feature of the season, and it was arguably his most challenging win. The race was stopped after seven laps due to the length of the event, which was marred by two lengthy caution periods. However, Speet was able to make the pass on Jackson Walker for the lead on lap five and was able to pull out to a 1.6 second lead over Walker when the final caution fell.
Speet said he did not make it through the race unscathed.
“I did touch somebody,” Speet said. “I got a little bit of damage, but we made it through. I heard them a couple of times that (they were going to stop the race). I started way in the back, so I was a little concerned, but I felt like I had the car to do it.
“I was having trouble earlier. The car wasn’t any good. But it was totally different (for the feature).”
Also Saturday, Jimmy Lawson won the 18-lap Vintage Racing Organization of America feature, holding off Billy Eppink at the stripe.
SATURDAY NIGHT RESULTS
SUPER LATE MODELS (125 LAPS) – 1. Terry VanHaitsma, 2. Tom Thomas, 3. Ross Meeuwsen, 4. Chris Anthony, 5. Seth Moody, 6. Josh Hobson, 7. Dave Lake, 8. Lauren Bush, 9. Jay Niewiek, 10. Lee VanDyk, 11. Ben Klies, 12. Alan Troup, 13. Dan Vandermolen, 14. Justin Ryan, 15. Jordan Dahlke, 16. Justin Regnerus, 17. Tim DeVos, 18. Alec Carll, 19. Chris Muyskens, 20. Tim Green, 21. Keith Herp, 22. Nick Szotko, 23. Jerry Andrews, 24. Caleb Bisacky
SUPER STOCKS (30 LAPS) – 1. Will Olmsted, 2. Justin Ryan, 3. Seth Moody, 4. Nate Walton, 5. Joel Baker, 6. Andrew Nylaan, 7. Dave Hull, 8. Warren Speet, 9. Bob Bliss, 10. Jeremy Munniksma, 11. Denny Anderson, 12. Nick Bonstell, 13. Cole Roelofs, 14. Dennis Mann, 15. Trever McCoy
MODIFIEDS (30 LAPS) – 1. Kevin DeGood, 2. Ryan Hamm, 3. Billy Shotko, 4. Billy Eppink, 5. Randy DeBoer, 6. Adam Chase, 7. Jeff Vrsek, 8. Ben Welch, 9. Rob Shoemaker
4 CYLINDERS (7 LAPS) – 1. Mike Speet, 2. Jackson Walker, 3. Zack Clark, 4. Darrell Holtzlander, 5. Jason Essex, 6. Charlie DeJong, 7. Seth VanHorssen, 8. Jake Loesch, 9. Paul Ritchie, 10. Rob Ream, 11. Jerry Smith, 12. Sierra Lantz, 13. Robbie Ream, 14. Dan Schoenborn, 15. Bill Krupp
VROA (18 LAPS) – 1. Jimmy Lawson, 2. Billy Eppink, 3. Terry Byrne, 4. Don Smith, 5. Randy Pierson, 6. Jason Burrus, 7. Arnie Snyder, 8. John Evans, 9. Larry Mollohan, 10. Max Wirebaugh, 11. Don Deyman, 12. Andrew Bartoszek, 13. Michael Becker, 14. Loren Peterson, 15. Rob Parker
HEAT WINNERS: Warren Speet, Andrew Nylaan (Super Stocks); Ryan Hamm (Modifieds); Bill Krupp, Sierra Lantz (4 Cylinders);
QUALIFYING – Tim DeVos (Super Late Models) 97.381 mph; Joel Baker (Super Stocsk) 90.892 mph; Billy Eppink (Modifieds) 91.097 mph; Bill Krupp (4 Cylinders) 76.932 mph; Terry Byrne (VROA) 81.797 mph