RACING

NASCAR’s William Byron and Erik Jones can’t stop Evan Shotko in Battle at Berlin

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MARNE — Evan Shotko will lose his underdog status if he continues to have weeks like this.

The 2021 Coopersville High School graduate won Wednesday night’s Berlin 250 battle at Berlin Raceway, beating a Super Late Model field that included NASCAR Cup Series regulars William Byron and Erik Jones as well as NASCAR Truck drivers Carson Hocevar and Ty Majeski.

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Shotko pocketed $30,000 for the win and another $1,000 for setting a fast time, and that came after earning $10,000 for winning a big race in Jennerstown, Penn., on Saturday. Wednesday’s victory was Shotko’s fourth in the last seven races in Berlin.

“We’ve been on a roll lately but at the same time you’re still the underdog against William Byron, Erik Jones and Ty Majeski and people like that are expected to win,” he said. Shotko said. “So yeah it was a bit daunting when you see these big rigs coming up but it’s just proof that money can’t buy everything and once in a while a local boy can get some chance.

“We’re just a low-budget team. Over the years we’ve been able to build the program and we’re at the point where we have two top-notch race cars, and we can go anywhere in the country and win.

Shotko led the first 11 laps after starting on pole before Byron got under him and ran away. Shotko would not lead again until he passed Brian Campbell on lap 207. He pulls away for a 1.083 second victory over Campbell, followed by Jones, Joe Bush and Chase Burda. Byron passed out late and finished eighth.

“I noticed (Campbell’s) entry into (turn) one was pretty bad all night,” Shotko said. “It was the only place where he wasn’t very good. I got inside it, and it held me for a little while. We were racing for $30,000 and made contact for a bit and the two continued. All is well.”

Shotko is a third generation racer and the son of multi-track champion Billy Shotko. The eldest Shotko won three consecutive Modified Track Championships from 2012 to 2014, but he said nothing was better than seeing his son succeed.

“It’s way better than anything I’ve ever done in my life,” Billy Shotko said. “It’s amazing. I’m not really an emotional guy, but with one to do, I actually had a little tear in my eye.

“The kid amazes me. He’s so smart. He does all his work himself. He has the support of his girlfriend, my dad and a bunch of crew who come to help him, but As for the setup and all the changes, it’s 100% up to him, he’s the driver and the team leader.

Campbell, the defending Wyoming Super Late Model track champion, had the dominant car during the middle part of the race. Byron and Hocevar were battling for the lead for 100 laps when Campbell got around them both on lap 104. He was the man to beat until Shotko caught up with him.

“It comes down to the fact that we made the wrong adjustment in the pits,” Campbell said. “We tightened the car too much. We were trying to hold him back, I know he’s fast. I thought on the last reboot everything would be fine. But the car started not so well. It’s our fault. Congratulations to them.

Jones, of Byron, qualified 15th, and he methodically worked his way through the field. He had nothing for Shotko and Campbell in the closing laps, however.

“We started 15th and it took us almost half the race to get track position and go a bit further,” said Jones, who races for Richard Petty in the Cup Series. “We are happy with that. We struggled to improve the car. We were dealing with the same kind of stuff at the end, but everyone else was. It was a good effort. We just needed a little more. »

Bush, of Hastings, started eighth and raced into the top five and briefly led. Bush, 60, said it was a pretty good race considering he was the oldest driver in the field.

“It hit me today. Hey, I’m by far the oldest guy here when I started watching all the pilots,” Bush laughed. “That’s pretty cool. I’m glad the weather was a bit cooler. I didn’t know how I was going to hold up with the 90 degrees and all that humidity. It’s a good finish. I would have liked to be a little more in front, but here we are.

Tim DeVos won his 100th career race on Wednesday, taking the checkered flag in the 50-lap Limited Late Model race. DeVos tied John Benson Sr. for second place on the track’s all-time win list. Bob Senneker is the all-time leader with 103 wins.

“When I started here I would have been happy to win a race,” said DeVos of Comstock Park. “It would have been crazy if I could win a race one day. To be able to match a guy like John Benson is incredible.

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