Shotko
(Photo: Rob Blount/FloRacing)

Takeaways from the Battle at Berlin 250 at Berlin Raceway

On a night when many Super Late Model and NASCAR standouts converged at Berlin Raceway for the Battle at Berlin 250, the final crown jewel race at the track this year belonged to the regulars.

Nobody in the field had anything for Kulwicki Development Driver Evan Shotko and Berlin points leader Brian Campbell, who took advantage of a race dominated by attrition and tire management to pull away from their competition during the final 50 laps and settle the Battle at Berlin 150 amongst themselves.

RELATED: Follow the on-track action at Berlin Raceway all year

Youth ended up prevailing over experience Wednesday, as Shotko nudged Campbell out of the groove to score the victory in front of the Berlin crowd and add another accomplishment to his growing short track resume.

Below are the key takeaways from Wednesday’s Battle at Berlin 250.

Evan Shotko continues stellar week

The past few days have been nothing short of spectacular for the 19-year-old Shotko.

After earning his first major short track victory in the rain-shortened Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown Speedway on Saturday, Shotko carried the momentum in the Battle at Berlin 250 and notched his first win in one of Berlin’s crown jewel events.

“I grew up watching this race,” Shotko said. “I’ve wanted to be in this position my whole life. Me and my whole team have worked our tails off for the last few years trying to get to this point. We’re on a role here and I hope we can keep on winning.”

Shotko admitted Wednesday’s victory took away the sting from this year’s Money in the Bank 150, a race he finished 30th after getting involved in a crash with Campbell on the second lap.

With the disappointment still fresh on their minds, Shotko and his team worked meticulously to ensure their car would be ready to survive 250 grueling laps at Berlin against talented drivers like Erik Jones, William Byron, Ty Majeski and many more.

Shotko was still in disbelief that he defeated many of the best Super Late Model competitors on Wednesday evening, but he added that the triumph in the Battle at Berlin 250 highlights the chemistry he and his team have developed over the past several years.

“Against a field like this, [winning the Battle at Berlin 250] is seriously unbelievable,” Shotko said. “This was a fantastic race car. I decided to tighten the car up a little bit to help with the longevity and I felt that when I fired off, I was a little too tight. The tires came in and everything turned out perfect.”

Brian Campbell comes up short

A bump from Shotko in the final laps of the Battle at Berlin 250 prevented Campbell from celebrating a third victory in the event.

Campbell was frustrated over the circumstances that resulted in him finishing second to Shotko, but he said he needed a different adjustment on his car for him to chase down and potentially return the favor to Shotko.

“We just made the wrong adjustment,” Campbell said. “Even with the contact, I couldn’t get back to [Shotko]. If I could get back to him, it would be a different story, but he had a faster car. We know what we did. We just screwed up in the pits.”

VIDEO: Highlights from the Battle at Berlin 250

Despite coming into the Battle at Berlin 250 with the points lead, Campbell had yet to win a race at the track this year.

Campbell believed all the changes he and his team have made throughout 2022 culminated in their best overall performance of the year on Wednesday. He patiently conserved his equipment early and enjoyed plenty of laps out front before Shotko took the lead.

The battle for the track championship is expected to get much tighter following Shotko’s victory, but Campbell now feels more confident in his ability to fend off the young driver through the final races after showcasing his strengths for 250 laps.

“Up until tonight, we haven’t felt like we’ve had [a strong] car,” Campbell said. “I felt that we had a good car in the Money in the Bank [150], but we still weren’t happy with it. We’ve been changing things and we got it better since we led a bunch of laps [on Wednesday], so this is something to build on.”

The local regulars stole the show in front of the home crowd at Berlin Raceway for Wednesday’s Battle at Berlin 250 (Nic Antaya/ARCA Racing)

Erik Jones leads NASCAR brigade at Berlin

Wednesday’s Battle at Berlin 250 was an uncharacteristic evening for those representing the top levels of NASCAR.

The only NASCAR national series regular to finish within striking distance of the victory was the two-time Battle of Berlin winner in Jones, who was relieved to see how competitive his car was after struggling in the Money in the Bank 150 in June.

“I was the best of the rest,” Jones said. “[Shotko and Campbell] were pretty checked out during those last 50 laps, but I was happy with the improvements we made from the [Money in the Bank] 150. We just have to get a little bit better, but I’m proud of this group for getting better from the first race.”

Jones has seen significant strides in his Super Late Model program since the Money in the Bank 150, as he successfully fought off Byron for a victory at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park on July 30.

With confidence on his side, Jones was eager to return to his home state of Michigan for the Battle at Berlin 250. But he could only muster a starting position of 15th after being inside the top five during a practice session earlier in the day.

Jones struggled to get the car to his liking even as he climbed his way through the 27-car field. He was thrilled to come home third but admitted the Battle at Berlin provided him plenty of notes on what needs to be adjusted ahead of his next Super Late Model appearance.

“We started so far back, so we have to work through the field,” Jones said. “It took until almost halfway through the race just to get some track position. We were still struggling with the same things at the end, but I think everybody was except for the front two. It was a good effort, but I just needed a little bit more.”

NOTES:

  • Having racked up six Super Late Model victories so far in 2022, the Battle at Berlin 250 was a quiet affair for William Byron. He managed to lead laps early in the feature but faded as the night went on, ultimately settling for an eighth-place finish.
  • Past Berlin Raceway track champion Carson Hocevar also enjoyed significant time out front before falling to the back of the pack. A mechanical issue took Hocevar out of contention, and he ended up placing 16th.
  • As with many drivers, Ty Majeski fought his car and the track during the Battle at Berlin 250. Majeski was never a factor in the event and finished 18th after being sidelined by a mechanical failure with just more than 50 laps remaining.