It’s as far north as the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards travels, but rest-assured there’ll be plenty of southern flavor when the 29th annual Berlin ARCA 200 comes to Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich., Saturday on ASN.
The incomparable combination of ARCA national champion Grant Enfinger and newcomer Bret Holmes are intending to make their mark on the quirky, less-than-a-half-mile Berlin short track. Enfinger’s from Fairhope, Ala.; Holmes hails from Munford, Ala.
It’ll be a return trip for Enfinger, who’s won the last two ARCA races at Berlin, but a first for rookie Holmes who will be making his first Berlin appearance in the No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet.
Enfinger, however, will not be behind the wheel for this trip, but on top of the pit box, calling the shots for Holmes as crew chief while the race unfolds.
“When we first made the deal with Grant crew chiefing us, this was one of the races he could crew chief based on his schedule,” Holmes said.
“We also thought it was better to get another short track under us ahead of the intermediate tracks on this year’s schedule.”
Holmes is referring to upcoming ARCA “intermediate” races at Kentucky and Kansas Speedways, but not before he tries his hand at two more short track classics to include Berlin and Salem in September.
Bret Holmes Racing will have yet another ace in the hole at Berlin with the addition of Sam Schram to the race team.
“We’ve got Sam Schram working with us now … he was Kyle Weatherman’s crew chief. Jim Barfield who works with me on the late model team will also be there, so we’ve got plenty of great help. They have a lot more experience than I do.”
No doubt the combo of Enfinger, Schram and Barfield add up to way more experience than Holmes, especially at Berlin, which he’s never seen before.
“All I know is that a lot of people really struggle with it. I hear it’s one big corner…that’s what they tell me. Extremely different than any other short track we go to. This one’s an oddball. I still think I have enough asphalt experience that I can adjust to it. I adjusted to Lucas Oil pretty quick.”
Holmes finished fifth in his ARCA debut at Nashville back in April after qualifying second. He also finished 10th at Talladega, the equivalent of a home game for the Alabaman, and sixth at Lucas Oil. He’s definitely in the hunt for victory lane.
“If someone says they want to win at Berlin more than I do, they’re lying. I want to win this race more than anything. Grant won there last year … we kind of showed ’em we can win at Nashville. Whether Grant’s crew chiefing or driving, he’s one of the best in either roles. He crew chiefed himself a lot in ARCA … made a lot of calls inside the seat. I feel like I can relay the right information and I know he understands. We work really well together.”
Thomas “Moose” Praytor, from Mobile, Alabama, is also entered. Praytor is having his best season on record, currently sixth in national championship standings.
Former ARCA winners at Berlin include Nelson Stacy, Iggy Katona, Ramo Stott, Bob and Brian Keselowski, Tim Steele, Frank Kimmel, Fred Campbell, Scott Speed, Joey Coulter, Chris Buescher, Erik Jones and Grant Enfinger to name a few.