Joe Graf Jr. made no friends Saturday night at Berlin Raceway but that didn’t matter to him as he rolled into victory lane.
Weeks after the ARCA Series was scheduled to race at Berlin the series finally got mother nature to cooperate long enough Saturday night. With the rain staying away the ARCA series put on a classic Saturday night short track race.
At only .4 miles Berlin is the perfect short track for ARCA or any series. And Saturday night was no different as guys and girls were beating and banging on one another. The final laps for the lead were more reminiscent of a shootout at Bowman Grey Stadium.
While Riley Herbst was bouncing off anything and everything on track with Carson Hocevar the series championship contenders put on a show. Sheldon Creed led early with Zane Smith in pursuit. As the race progressed, however, Chandler Smith asserted himself as the leading contender Saturday night. If someone wanted to win they were going to have a 16-year old to deal with.
In the closing laps, Smith was slowly sliding back into the grasps of Joe Graf Jr. in the #77. Graf was looking for his first win after Zane Smith nabbed him at the line earlier in the season at Talladega like Graf was Elliott Sadler.
With Graf charging and hungry for that first win he did what everyone does on a short track that can’t pass cleanly. He decided to drive right through Chandler Smith like he was Chase Elliott in a truck race at Canada. As Graf came out of turn 4 expecting to see the checkered flag he was instead met with a caution flag. The ARCA series guarantees a green flag finish and Graf wrecked Smith too soon, he’d have to earn this win on a G-W-C.
Quite an end to the ARCA race. This was (what would’ve been) the final lap. Joe Graf dumps Chandler Smith, setting up a 1-lap dash pic.twitter.com/TIDBFQqbPf
— Awesome Wrex (@AwesomeWrecks) August 26, 2018
On the ensuing restart, Graf lost the lead to Zane Smith but he wouldn’t be denied again. The #77 dove it into turn 3 and as the old saying goes “8 tires are better than 4” Graf used Zane Smith as a bumper and outraced him to the line for his first career win.
Graf got the trophy but he didn’t make any friends. “Joe Graf is the biggest dumb ass out here. I’m sure everyone here agrees with me. Chandler Smith should have won. He tried to wreck both of us” said an annoyed Zane Smith.
ARCA has a dirt race followed by two short tracks before ending the season at Kansas in October. Joe Graf Jr. could have a rough time at Lucas Oil Raceway Park and Salem Speedway should Zane Smith or Chandler Smith want to repay him for his aggressive driving.
Joe Graf Jr bodied Zane Smith going into Turn 3 to win at Berlin.
P2 Zane Smith
P3 Travis Braden
P4 Carson Hocevar
P5 Gus Dean
P6 Sheldon Creed
P7 Chandler Smith
P8 Chase Purdy
P9 Riley Herbst
P10 Natalie Decker#arca
— Apex Off (@ApexOff) August 26, 2018
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