Story by: Eric Huenefeld
Photo by: Hotshot Photography
Over the course of the last three racing seasons, Michael Bilderback has gone as the weather has gone. When summer draws longer and the weather gets warmer, it seems Bilderback gets warm right along with the conditions.
For the second straight season, the South Beloit Illinois native is on a summertime winning streak with the Big 8 Late Model Series. After winning last Friday night’s Miller Lite Larry Detjens Memorial Race at State Park Speedway in Wausau WI, Bilderback collected his second straight Series win at Wisconsin International Raceway, topping his foes in the 38 lap ‘Dixieland Delight.’
Bilderback, second quickest in Qualifying, started from the seventh position and initially found trouble getting to the front, thanks in part to some torrid side-by-side battles ahead of him. At the front of the line, first and second place starters Jerry Mueller and Jake Zellmer dueled for the lead, with Mueller eventually sneaking to the front. Zellmer soon found himself locked in a battle with Iowa’s Brody Willett for the second, with Willett eventually taking the position away from Zellmer.
Along with Bilderback, Braison Bennett and fast qualifier Jeremy Miller did their best to navigate both traffic and the tricky confines of the D-shaped half mile. Bilderback was the first of the three to bust out of the thicket and make his way forward, taking second by lap 11 and then beginning his pursuit of Mueller for the race lead. The tussle was lengthy, but finally on the 15th circuit, Bilderback moved to the head of the class. As the race moved along at a brisk caution-free pace, it was Bilderback manufacturing a straightaway advantage over the balance of the pack on his way to victory. Bennett eventually found his way to second place in the race’s final laps, while Miller settled for third while battling transmission issues. John Baumeister Jr claimed his third career Big 8 Series top five with a fourth place showing, while Minnesota’s Ryan Kamish rounded out the top five.
The Big 8 Late Model Series now takes a seven-week hiatus as drivers vie for track championships at their hometracks. The break leads up to the busiest part of the Big 8 schedule, ‘three races in three weeks’ to determine the 2017 Big 8 Late Model Series champion. The chase begins Saturday September 23 at Elko (MN) Speedway as part of the 9th annual Thunderstruck, then one week later at Rockford (IL) Speedway on “Short Track Saturday Night” September 30 at the 52nd National Short Track Championships. The curtain closes on the 2017 Big 8 Late Model Series season at LaCrosse (WI) Fairgrounds Speedway on Saturday October 7 during the 48th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend.
For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit big8series.com.
Big 8 Late Model Series
Official Race Results
1. Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
2. Braison Bennett Menasha, WI
3. Jeremy Miller Rockford, IL
4. John Baumeister Jr Beloit, WI
5. Ryan Kamish Farmington, MN
6. Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
7. Jake Zellmer Burlington, WI
8. Cody Kippenhan Ypsilanti, MI
9. Joey Pontbriand Norway, MI
10. Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI
11. Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
12. Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
Fast Qualifier: Miller
Big 8 Late Model Series
Point Standings (as of 8/2/17)
1. Michael Bilderback 602
2. Jeremy Miller 551
3. Brody Willett 431
4. Ryan Kamish 391
5. Jerry Mueller 347
6. Jake Vanoskey 313
7. Jake Zellmer 311
8. Tim Sargent 295
9. Tyler Hromadka 279
10. Tyler Brown (R) 236
For more information: big8series.com