By: Eric Huenefeld
Saturday night at Rockford Speedway, Michael Bilderback did what he’s done more than anyone else since the beginning of the 2015 racing season; win races.
The South Beloit native bagged his 24th win in three years in a dominant effort during the 108 lap Big 8 Late Model Series event which was part of the 52nd Annual National Short Track Championships (NSTC).
Bilderback, who started the race from the eleventh position, made his was to the front on lap 27 after a brief battle with polesitter Dale Nottestad. Following the pass for the lead, Bilderback was rarely challenged. Half of that fact was due to Bilderback’s sheer dominance, while the other half was due to the pace of the race. The 26-car starting field ran the 108 lap race in just 45 minutes, with only three yellow flags stopping the event. The final caution flew on lap 46, meaning the final 62 circuits of the race were run under green flag conditions.
The win, coupled with trouble for four-time Series champion Jeremy Miller, clinched an unprecedented third consecutive Big 8 Late Model Series championship for Bilderback, who also tied Miller for first place on the all-time Big 8 Series wins list with 12 feature wins.
In reference to National Short Track Championships, Bilderback is also on the cusp of not only more history, but a sizeable bonus on Sunday afternoon; if the 26 year old driver can win the 200 lap Super Late Model National Short Track Championship race, he will pocket a $1500 bonus for becoming the first ever driver to win all three Late Model features at NSTC in a single year.
Cambridge Wisconsin’s Dale Nottestad came home in second place, after leading 13 laps early in the event, with four-time Big 8 NSTC winner Jon Reynolds Jr taking third position. Former Rockford Speedway Track Champion Alex Papini finished fourth, with Iowa teenager Brody Willett rounding out the top five.
Big 8 Late Model Series ‘108’
52nd National Short Track Championships
1. Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
2. Dale Nottestad Cambridge, WI
3. Jon Reynolds Jr Loves Park, IL
4. Alex Papini Rockford, IL
5. Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
6. Bobby Wilberg Beloit, WI
7. Adam Peschek Oconomowoc, WI
8. Jake Zellmer Muskego, WI
9. Tom Gille Winnebago, IL
10. John Baumeister Jr Beloit, WI
11. John Beinlich Cary, IL
12. Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI
13. Chris Storey Burlington, WI
14. Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
15. Dennis Smith Jr South Beloit, IL
16. Jeff Wakeman Streator, IL
17. Cody Kippenhan Ypslianti, MI
18. Ryan Kamish Farmington, MN
19. Steve Rubeck Rockford, IL
20. Jeremy Miller Rockford, IL
21. Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
22. RJ Braun Wales, WI
23. Mike Lloyd Davis, IL
24. Jake Gille Winnebago, IL
25. Max Kahler Caledonia, IL
26. Jerry Gille Roscoe, IL
Fast Qualifier: Miller (New Track Record)
Prelim Winners: Miller, Bilderback, Smith Jr, Nottestad, Beinlich
Entries: 30 Big 8 Late Models