MARNE, Mich. (Story by Keith Shampine, ISMAsupers.com / photos by Jim Feeney) — Kyle Edwards of Bartlett, Tenn., won Friday night’s International Supermodified Association / Midwest Supermodified Series Great Lakes Classic 40-lap feature at Berlin Raceway after Mike Ordway Jr.’s Booth Racing No. 61 suffered a mechanical problem while leading with less than four laps to go.
It marked the second year in a row that Ordway appeared to have the Berlin Friday night ISMA / MSS feature in the bag until a mechanical issue ended his race early. A plug wire problem was deemed to be the culprit. And similar to the 2022 version of this race, the key beneficiary was Edwards, who was running second to Ordway both years and once again nabbed the victory.
The win marked Edwards’ second of the 2023 ISMA / MSS series.
“That’s two years in a row (Ordway) gave it away; it seems like they either win or break,” Edwards said to Berlin promoter Jeff Striegle in victory lane. “But they’re (No. 61) so damn fast, so we’ll take ‘em however we can get them. I was extremely loose. I don’t know what else we can do, but we’ll have to figure something out so we can compete with the 61 tomorrow. Thanks to all the fans for coming out on a Friday night, and hopefully the weather is good tomorrow so they can come back and celebrate with us again.”
Edwards and Ohio’s AJ Lesiecki started the 40-lapper from the front row and Edwards jumped out to an early lead. Lesiecki held P2 until Ordway, who started third, moved into the runner-up spot just before halfway.
Ordway wasted no time with Edwards and he shot his Clyde Booth chassis to the inside of the No. 11E Bodnar chassis while working lap 21. The New Englander would take the lead into Turn 1 and look to set sail, but the race was slowed a lap later for a spinning Ricky Otts in Turn 3. Otts’ No. 3 was hauled off on the hook and done for the night.
The double-file restart saw Ordway move out to the lead and quickly build an advantage. Meanwhile on the restart, Canadian Mike Lichty moved from P4 past Lesiecki to P3 and New York’s Otto Sitterly followed Lichty through to advance from P6 to P4. Lesiecki settled into P5 with Tyler Shullick, Trent Stephens, Johnny Benson Jr., Kasey Jedrzejek and Mike McVetta running sixth through 10th.
Over the next 10-plus laps Ordway’s Silver Bullet would build a 5-second advantage over Edwards, who was busy fending off challenges from Lichty.
With less than four laps to go Ordway, who’d just put a lap on Mark Sammut’s No. 78, was working on lapping Charlie Schultz’ No. 72 when his 61 slowed between turns 3 and 4. Sammut made a quick move to avoid the slowing 61, and Ordway pulled to Berlin’s front-stretch apron and came to a stop just before the start/finish line to bring out the second and final yellow flag of the race.
Ordway, who’s still searching for his first series win in 2023 after winning four main events last year, would pull the 61 nose first into his Booth Racing pit, and his race would be over three laps early.
“It’s been a struggle this year,” Ordway told a Berlin Raceway / FloRacing pit reporter after the race. “We broke leading at Jennerstown earlier this year, and we broke running second (at Oswego) last week. The races we’ve finished, we haven’t been worse than fifth. Tonight we were a little bit off in time trials. The guys worked on the car, and ultimately the race played out like we wanted it to. I was just biding my time at the start, and got to the lead when we needed to. We had some ignition trouble; we’ll get it back together and try again tomorrow night.”
When the race restarted, Edwards jumped out to a solid advantage and cruised to victory by a 1.047-second margin over Lichty. Sitterly was a couple car-lengths behind Lichty for P3 with Lesiecki holding on for a solid P4 and Stephens rounding out the top five.
Shullick, Benson, McVetta, Jedrzejek and Moe Lilje would finish sixth through 10th of 19 starters.
“The late restart was probably our only shot at winning it,” Lichty said after his P2 run. “About 20 laps in Ordway was struggling to get by some laps cars, and the same with Kyle, and I thought we would have had a shot at them. They cleared and then I cleared and then Ordway was gone. Bad luck (for Ordway). We were just way too tight, but it’s something to build on for tomorrow.”
Sitterly talked about his P3 result.
“We were pretty decent. We started eighth and we were coming forward. Some of the restarts actually helped; I felt as though we were a little bit better than the first two guys the last eight or 10 laps, but it’s tough; everything is pretty wore out by the end of the race.”
ISMA / MSS is back at Berlin Saturday night to conclude the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Classic. After a mostly clean night of racing Friday, series officials expect a similar field of approximately 20 entrants Saturday night.
Qualifying is slated to start at 6:30pm. The race will be broadcast live on FloRacing.com with coverage beginning at approximately 6pm.