After breaking a mechanical issue that forced him to skip qualifying, putting him 26th in the 27-car field at the start, Terry VanHaitsma pulled off a near-impossible run to the front to win his first ever Champion Racing Association (CRA) Super Series event the Keyser’s Port City Racing 125 at his home track, the historic Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan.
"We broke the right-front hub in the last practice session, so we weren't able to qualify and had to start in the back," stated the Hudsonville, Michigan driver. "This is the same car we drove in the JEGS/CRA/GM race last month and the car was just awesome, so fun to drive. We just had to focus on what we had to do and we got through there and got the win. This is awesome.”
The 31-year-old driver was forced to make the 30-minute trek back to his home located Southwest of Grand Rapids to retrieve a replacement hub from his Outlaw Super Late Model that he normally pilots on Saturday nights at Berlin.
“It’s a wide-five hub that we borrowed from our Outlaw car and our template car uses the five on five bolt pattern, so we had wide 5s on the front and the standard hubs on the back,” said VanHaitsma. “The car did drive a little different, but she was fast. All I could do was just bide my time, pass when I could and before I knew it, I was up towards the front, so we went for it.”
2011 Berlin Raceway Modified Track Champion, Dave Lake, driving the car normally piloted by Johnny Benson, Jr., who was not available due to prior commitments, and two-time defending CRA Super Series Champion, Johnny VanDoorn led the stout 27-car field to CRA Super Series Chief Starter, Brian Duncan’s green flag. As the field flew into turn one, VanDoorn used the momentum from the outside lane to grab the early lead.
VanDoorn, from near-by Coopersville, Michigan, paced the field for the first 12 laps until Peter Cozzolino, a former winner at Berlin in the old ASA National Tour back in 2003, drove around the outside of VanDoorn to take the lead for himself on lap 13. VanDoorn stayed with the Indianapolis, Indiana veteran and on lap 38, retook the point.
After the first of nine cautions on the night flew a lap later, Cozzolino would regroup and regain the lead on lap 44 only to lose it right back to VanDoorn the next lap. Again Cozzolino would reset and again the Hoosier State veteran would shoot past VanDoorn one more time on lap 49 and would bring former two-time Outlaw Super Late Models Track Champion and EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier (16.074), Tim DeVos, who started eighth, with him. On lap 51, DeVos took over the lead for himself and in turn, VanDoorn would himself regroup and also sweep past Cozzolino for second and he would refocus his efforts on DeVos.
On lap 62, VanDoorn flew past DeVos to take over the lead for the fourth time of the night. However, like Cozzolino did earlier, DeVos regrouped his efforts and steered his machine back by VanDoorn to create the eighth lead change of the race just past the halfway point on lap 66. Throughout the battles up front, VanHaitsma, who started 26th, had been methodically been picking off cars one by one and by lap 73 was up to seventh when the night’s most serious incident occurred.
Gabe Ensing, a regular in the tracks Premier Boyne Super Late Models Series, went for a wild ride off the backstretch before coming to rest in the midst of old tractor tires that are out of sight behind the turn three wall. Ensing collected 1997 CRA Super Series Champion, Kenny Tweedy in the melee. Both drivers were ok and Tweedy was able to continue while Ensing was done for the night.
On the restart, three-time Outlaw Super Late Models Track Champion at Berlin, Ross Meeuwsen, made his presence felt and began challenging DeVos for the lead after passing VanDoorn for second prior to the red flag. On lap 84 and while running third, VanDoorn suddenly slowed and pulled into the pit area done for the night and continuing the hard-luck season for the reigning two-time CRA Super Series Champion. This left DeVos and Meeuwsen to battle amongst themselves for the lead.
All the while VanHaitsma was still picking off cars one by one and on lap 91, he would pass current rookie of the year points leader and winner of the Speed Media Best Appearing Car Award earlier in the night, Derrick Griffin for third and set his sights on his fellow weekly competitors in the tracks Outlaw Super Late Models division, by lap 97 he was on both drivers’ back bumpers trying to figure out a way around them when on lap 99 VanHaitsma made a daring outside maneuver and passed them both in one sweeping motion to complete the 26th-to-first run.
From there, it was all VanHaitsma as he would lose both Meeuwsen, who also got by DeVos, and Chris Anthony, who passed DeVos late in the race for third. VanHaitsma pulled away to a two and a half second lead and would go on to win the Keyser’s Port City Racing 125. It was VanHaitsma’s second CRA sanctioned win in a month in Marne, Michigan as he also took the win in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts event, the Berlin 100 Presented by JEGS.com back on September 10th.
Meeuwsen settled for second with Anthony, DeVos, and Alec Carll completing the top five. Griffin finished sixth and gained eight important points on CRA Super Series points leader, three-time Series Champion, Scott Hantz who finished seventh. Hantz and Griffin are separated by just seven points heading into the 40th annual Winchester 400 on Friday-Sunday, October 14-16th at the legendary Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Indiana. Cozzolino, Jordan Dahlke, and another two-time Outlaw Super Late Models Track Champion at Berlin, Tom Thomas wrapped up the final top 10.