MARNE, Mich. — It may not have been the most entertaining race with only two cautions in the 200 laps, but the 31st running of the ARCA Menards Series at Berlin Raceway on Saturday night was a home run here locally.
A packed house enjoyed the Zinsser SmartCoat 200 seeing high profile names like Ty Gibbs, Corey Heim and Thad Moffitt, grandson of 'The King' Richard Petty.
17-year-old Florida native Daniel Dye would lead from start to finish in the 200 lap race through four separate restarts, including two race breaks to pit at lap 75 and 125.
Gibbs would make a late push but finish just under one second back of Dye, who took the No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet to victory lane for the first time ever.
"It doesn't feel real quite yet, this is a dream come true," Dye said in victory lane.
Dye recently signed with GMS Racing through the rest of the 2021 season but at a part-time level.
“This is crazy, beating Ty Gibbs and Corey Heim at a place like Berlin in my first start is crazy," he added, "This is a dream come true. The GMS Racing team brings such good cars to the track, and from our very first run in practice until right now, we hardly changed anything."
Series points leader Corey Heim would come home third in the No. 20 Craftsman Toyota and will take a six point lead over Gibbs through ten races.
Dye becomes just the third driver in the series this season to win a race, joining Gibbs and Heim.
Pro Football Hall-of-Famer and race team owner Joe Gibbs was also at the track watching his grandson and also signed autographs for some lucky fans in the pits.
The rest of the drivers would stick around after the race to meet with fans and sign hats, shirts, and everything in between, a very cool moment to be up close and personal with the future of NASCAR.
Locally, Berlin Raceway continues to gain popularity locally yet again with General Manager Jeff Striegle at the helm.
West Michigan is one of the biggest short track racing communities anywhere in the United States and Saturday's turnout further proves that.
ARCA belongs at Berlin Raceway more often in the future.