Berlin Raceway is mostly flat, but Erik Jones’ two days in Marne, Michigan has been full of peaks and valleys.  Two laps into Monday evening’s practice session the rear end broke on Jones’ no. 61 machine and he pounded the turn one wall destroying the race car.  At the end of 251 laps on Tuesday night Jones rolled his backup car into victory lane as the winner of the Battle at Berlin 251.


Jones and his crew celebrate in victory lane. ( photo)

Jones and his crew celebrate in victory lane. ( photo)

“These guys worked so hard,” Jones told powered by JEGS in victory lane.  “We brought a brand new car here for practice on Monday and wrecked pretty hard.  We just KO’d it.  These guys at Port City went and put another car together late last night.  It’s amazing, man.  They worked so hard and I wanted to win for them so bad.  They really deserved it.”


Jones qualified 14th and slowly worked his way through the field to get to the front.  He wasn’t a factor in the beginning as it was 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott who dominated the early stages of the race.


But in the final stages of the race Elliott started to fade.  Elliott battled hard with Ross Kenseth, Jones, and John Hunter Nemechek, but he couldn’t hold the bottom as the laps wound down.


“I got too tight for me and my capabilities there at the end,” said Elliott.  “I hate it.  I thought we had a good car there, at least to start off, but

The damage to Jones' primary car from Monday's practice crash. ( photo)

The damage to Jones’ primary car from Monday’s practice crash. ( photo)

unfortunately that isn’t the part that mattered.”


Jones battled hard with Kenseth with about 50 laps remaining before driving deep into turn one and powering under Kenseth off turn two to take the lead with 47 laps to go.


After that it was all Erik Jones as he stretched his gap out to almost half a lap on second-place when he took the checkered flag.


However, the turning point for Jones came on a restart on lap 185 when a spin by second-place runner Lauren Bush spun out off turn four coming back to the green.  Her spin resulted in about half of the field piling up on the frontstretch, but Jones managed to barely squeak by on the inside.


“I cranked it left and throttled up and made it by,” Jones said.  “That was the point in the race where I thought it might be our day.  If we could make it through that I knew we could make it to the end of the race.  It was a pretty close call, but that’s part of racing.”


Almost 11 cars piled up on the frontstretch on lap 185. ( photo)

Almost 11 cars piled up on the frontstretch on lap 185. ( photo)

About 11 cars piled into the crash, including front runners Chad Finley, Travis Braden, Terry Senneker and Brian Campbell.  Dominique Van Wieringen also took heavy damage.  Only Campbell was able to return and managed to finish eighth.


Jones, a regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, has struggled with luck over the last month and a half.  He’s hoping that this win will turn things around for him in all facets of racing for the rest of the year.


“It’s been a while since we’ve won this year,” Jones said.  “We’ve led a lot of laps and have had fast cars, but it’s been about a month and a half of disappointment and hardship.  This turned everything around and it feels great.”


In fact, Jones’ luck has been so bad recently that Monday’s crash almost led him to leave the Marne area, because he was so disappointed.


“Honestly after we wrecked yesterday I wanted to go back home,” he said.  “I was ready to go back and visit the east side of the state.  I was convinced to stay over and race today and I thought it was a good idea to get back out there and try to get a win and it was the right decision.”


Jones is a two-time Snowball Derby winner, and a Winchester 400 winner.  The Battle at Berlin 251 is one of the few prestigious Super Late Model races that he hadn’t crossed off his list.


“This is pretty special,” Jones said.  “I’ve got a lot of family and a lot of friends here.  My emotion was definitely pretty emotional when I crossed the line.  It was kind of hard to keep it together with about two to go and especially taking the white.”


To see a replay of all Tuesday’s action with Trackside Now from Berlin Raceway on-demand, click here:


-By Rob Blount, Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount

-Photo Credit:


ARCA/CRA Super Series

Berlin Raceway, Marne, Michigan

Battle at Berlin 251 Official Results

1 61 Erik Jones
2 23 Chris Koslek
3 8N John Hunter Nemechek
4 9 Chase Elliott
5 25 Ross Kenseth
6 84 Jay Niewiek
7 51 Chris Bell
8 47 Brian Campbell
9 77 Andrew Nylaan
10 28 Grant Quinlan
11 26P Bubba Pollard
12 101 Lauren Bush
13 4K Ali Kern
14 131 Brett Robinson
15 18 Mark Lambert
16 4 Dalton Armstrng
17 12 Dan Leeck
18 13 Hunter Baize
19 33 Wes Griffith Jr
20 1 Barry Hartwell
21 72 Thomas Woodin
22 36 Terry Senneker
23 42 Chad Finley
24 01 Travis Braden
25 5 Dominique Van Wieringen
26 2W Donnie Wilson
27 8 Jordan Pruitt
28 21 Terry VanHaitsma
29 26 Rick Turner
30 1S Jon Beach
31 23 Eddie VanMeter

Jones Rolls Backup Car into Battle at Berlin Victory Lane