K&N East Race Preview: Berlin

K&N Pro Series

The Stars & Stripes 150 will be the seventh of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. (Photo: Getty Images)

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For the third time this season, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will head to a new track. The series will be back in action Saturday at Marne, Michigan’s Berlin Raceway for the Stars & Stripes 150. 

Berlin, a unique .438-mile oval with short straightaways and long corners, has served as a host to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for the past year and has seen many NASCAR drivers come through its ranks. Johnny Benson Jr., a longtime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver as well as a NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, Chris Buescher and 2015 Camping World Truck Series victor Erik Jones have all won races at the short-track throughout their careers. 

In the track’s long history, which dates back to 1951, Berlin has hosted only one NASCAR touring series event — a Grand National East race won by Bob Senneker in 1973. 

Current NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points leader Harrison Burton holds a 28-point lead over his fellow NASCAR Next classmate Todd Gilliland, after picking up his third win in the last four races at Memphis (Tenn.) International Raceway earlier this month. As the only driver to finish in the top five in all six events thus far, Burton has wrestled away control of the championship hunt and will look to continue his recent surge as the season reaches the halfway point at Berlin.

Fast Facts

The Race: The Stars & Stripes 150 will be the seventh of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. 

The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will qualify through the group qualifying process while the remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The races will be 150 laps, spanning 65.63 miles. There will be a five-minute break at or near the completion of Lap 75.

The Track: Opened in 1951, Berlin Raceway is a .438-mile oval with short straightaways and long corners, giving it an almost circular feel. In 1966, the track was paved in its current configuration, and has played host to several regional touring series dates as well as major short track standalone events.

Race Winners: This will be the first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race held at Berlin. In 1973, Bob Senneker won a NASCAR Grand National East race at Berlin — the only NASCAR race ever held at the track.

Race Notes

Testing It Out: Two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East drivers got a test run of sorts at Berlin Raceway last week.

Point leader Harrison Burton and Tyler Dippel each competed in the inaugural Money In The Bank 150, a Super Late Model race which attracted a star-studded field, including current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and Erik Jones.

Burton finished third continued his successful year with a third-place finish.

Crunch Time: After only competing once in the last seven weeks, business will pick up for K&N Pro Series East teams.

The Stars & Stripes 150 begins a busy six-week stretch of five races that will go a long way toward shaping the series championship. Following Berlin, the teams head to Connecticut for a throwback race on the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park high banks on July 8, then they’re off to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the annual United Site Services 70 on July 15, before heading to Iowa Speedway on July 28 for the yearly K&N Pro Series East and West combination event. They’ll wrap up their crazy travel stint at New York’s Watkins Glen International on August 4.

The crucial run of five races features two short tracks, one speedway, three companion events with national NASCAR series and the only road course race of the season for the series.

Miller Time: Travis Miller has run only a partial K&N Pro Series East schedule this season, but the 29-year-old Chesapeake, Virginia, driver has made his time count behind the wheel of the No. 40 MDM Motorsports Toyota.

In three starts, Miller has a win, two top fives and three top 10s. He won at his home track of South Boston (Va.) Speedway in April for his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win, and he finished third — despite starting 12th — in the series’ most recent race at Memphis.

Prior to this season, Miller had never finished in the top 10 in a K&N Pro Series East race.

Model of Consistency: After posting 10 top-10 finishes in 14 starts as a rookie a year ago, Hunter Baize is proving to be the same model of consistency this season.
Baize, 19, of Bremen, Kentucky, has top-10 finishes in five of his six starts this season and leapt two spots in the K&N Pro Series East standings with his sixth-place finish at Memphis. His best finish of the season was fourth at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway.

Only Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland, the top two drivers in the standings, have more top-10 finishes this season than Baize.

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