By: Eric Huenefeld
As the twelfth season of Big 8 Late Model Series racing came to an end Saturday night at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, Michael Bilderback once again etched his name in history as a Big 8 Series champion.
Bilderback’s 2016 was one of the more dominant championship seasons in the history of the Big 8 Series, as the 25 year old outdistanced his nearest competitor in the points by 167 markers while winning four of the eight races on the schedule.
Bilderback finished no worse than sixth in any Big 8 race, with an average finish of 2.375. Bilderback’s four wins on the tour tied him for fourth on the All-Time Big 8 Series wins list with Ross Kenseth (7), trailing only Jon Reynolds Jr (11), Jeremy Miller (11) and Casey Johnson (10).
This year’s Big 8 Late Model Series championship was second consecutive for the South Beloit Illinois resident, making him just the third driver in the history of the Series to win multiple championships, joining Jeremy Miller (2007, 08, 10 & 12) and Casey Johnson (2013 & 14). To go along with his success along the Big 8 tour in this year, Bilderback also earned his first Rockford Speedway Track Championship, winning four feature races at the high-banked quarter mile.
Lakeville Minnesota’s Michael Ostdiek had a stellar season on the Big 8 tour too, posting a second place finish in the final series standings. The 19 year old college sophomore racked up five Top Five finishes and his first ever Big 8 Late Model Series win in July at State Park Speedway in Wausau Wisconsin. Ostdiek’s steady efforts were just enough to hold off J Herbst for runner-up honors in the points chase. Herbst, the West Salem Wisconsin native, finished just one point behind Ostdiek in third. Herbst has a memorable season with Big 8 Late Model Series, earning two runner-up finishes and six Top Tens while also setting new Track Records at Hawkeye Downs in June and at State Park Speedway in July.
Four time Big 8 Late Model Series champion Jeremy Miller finished fourth in the 2016 points, with one win on the tour at Madison International Speedway in June. Elkhorn Wisconsin’s Wayne Freimund rounded out the top five in points, ninety points behind Miller. Freimund completed his most solid Big 8 season to date with a top five in points, highlighted by a fourth place finish at Rockford Speedway’s Spring Classic in April.
Fourteen year old Grant Griesbach not only finished the season sixth place in points, but also was the winner of the Loves Park Motorsports ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award. Griesbach, who ended the season just four points behind Freimund for fifth in points, collected three Top Ten finishes in 2016, with a seventh place at Spring Classic his best showing. Alburnett Iowa’s Brody Willett finished second in the Rookie chase, ninety-five points behind Griesbach.
2016 Big 8 Late Model Series “By The Numbers”…
-FIVE different drivers won Big 8 Series features in 2016 (Bilderback, Miller, Ostdiek, Johnson & Ty Majeski)
-FIVE states were represented among the Top Ten in final Big 8 Series points (Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan)
-SIX drivers officially competed at every Series event in 2016 (Bilderback, Ostdiek, Herbst, Griesbach, Willett & Tyler Hromadka)
-SEVEN track records fell in qualifying this year, meaning each track on the series saw their all-time record lowered
-ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN drivers entered a Big 8 Late Model Series race in 2016
Big 8 Late Model Series
2016 Top Ten in Points
1. 2 Michael Bilderback 891
2. 18 Michael Ostdiek 724
3. 82 J Herbst 723
4. 5 Jeremy Miller 585
5. 95 Wayne Freimund 495
6. 17 Grant Griesbach 491
7. 54 Rich Schumann, Jr. 448
8. 3 Tyler Hromadka 399
9. 00 Brody Willett 396
10. 03 Cody Kippenhan 320