By: Clem Easterly
This Friday night, the Big 8 Late Model Series returns to one of it’s favorite stops through the years.
For the 17th time in Series history, the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” take to ‘Wisconsin’s Fastest Half Mile” for what has become an Independence Week tradition…the “Salute to America” at Madison International Speedway (MIS).
Friday night’s event marks the third of eight races on the 2017 Big 8 Late Model Series schedule, following April’s Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway and the “Clash at the Downs” at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids Iowa four weeks ago. Michael Bilderback won the season opener at Rockford in commanding fashion, while Minnesota’s Joe Neisius claimed his first ever Big 8 Series win at Hawkeye Downs one month ago.
Two races into the 2017 slate, Bilderback leads the standings, looking to become the first driver to win three consecutive Big 8 Late Model Series championships. Bilderback’s advantage in the standings is 27 points over 4-time Big 8 Series champion Jeremy Miller, who has been his usual consistent self to start the season. Miller has also been solid at Madison this year, leading the NASCAR Late Model points in pursuit of his sixth track championship at MIS. Miller is also the defending race winner of the “Salute to America,” winning last year’s caution-free 48 lap affair.
Other top Big 8 racers gunning for victory Friday night at MIS include Tim Sargent, the former Rockford Speedway champion, who’s started his season with a pair of top five finishes and currently ranks third in Big 8 Series points, eight points behind Miller for second and 35 points behind Bilderback for the points lead. Iowa’s Brody Willett has begun his Big 8 season strong as well, sitting fourth in points, just 69 points behind Bilderback. Other top Big 8 drivers attending Friday night’s ‘Salute to America’ include Wisconsin racers Jerry Mueller (6th in points) and Jake Zellmer (7th in points) along with Minnesota’s Ryan Kamish (8th in points) and Illinois’ Tyler Brown, the leading Loves Park Motorsports Rookie of the Year candidate who sits tenth in Series points.
Madison International Speedway will be well represented Friday night, with several track championships represented on the entry list. Beloit’s Bobby Wilberg is one of the titans of Madison International Speedway, with a combined 12 track championships through the years at his hometrack. Cottage Grove’s Zach Riddle not only has a distinguished family history at MIS, but is also a former track champion, taking top honors in the NASCAR Late Model division during the 2015 season. Both Wilberg and Riddle are aiming for their first Big 8 wins on their hometrack. Former ‘Salute to America’ winner and Madison ace John Baumeister Jr is also looking to pocket another Big 8 Series win Friday night at MIS.
Drivers from five states are expected for the 2017 edition of ‘Salute to America,’ and once again this season the Big 8 Late Model Series is joined by the Great Northern Sportsman Series and the Midwest Dash Series on the busy Friday night schedule. Race fans are also encouraged to hang around after the races for a HUGE Fireworks Display.
***MADISON CONSTRUCTION UPDATE***
If you’re making your first trip to Madison International Speedway this year, know that Road Construction is taking place on Interstate 90 near Stoughton. With this in mind, the following information has been passed along by the folks at Madison International Speedway…
The Highway 51 exit off I-90/39 is closed at Stoughton, fans/drivers will need to take Hwy 14 north/west out of Janesville towards Evansville (Exit 171, then turn left on 14). Fans/drivers will be able to bring 14 through Evansville and then north to Hwy 138 Oregon, take exit, at roundabout turn right (east), then approx 2 miles down road will be our sign with flags at Sunrise Road. Turn right on Sunrise and then the track will be on the left a mile down.
IMPORTANT: Your GPS will likely try to have you turn on Oak Hill off of Hwy 14 and there are green directional signs saying Madison International Speedway, the large toters and semis WILL NOT fit down Oak Hill, therefor they MUST go to Hwy 138.
Salute To America
Current Entries (as of Noon 6/29)
OO Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
O3 Cody Kippenhan Ypsilanti, MI
2 Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
3 Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
5 Jeremy Miller Rockton, IL
14 Zach Riddle Cottage Grove, WI
15 Michael Clapper Dane, WI
19 John Baumeister Jr Beloit, WI
20 Tyler Brown Carol Stream, IL
21 Mike Lloyd Davis, IL
26 Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL
28 Bobby Wilberg Beloit, WI
42 Ryan Kamish Lakeville, MN
49 Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
53 Jared Duda St Michael, MN
58 Tyler Kingery Prior Lake, MN
78 Matt Lundberg Rockton, IL
84 Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI
87 Brent Edmunds Monticello, WI
99 Jake Zellmer Muskego, WI
What: “Salute To America”
Where: Madison International Speedway (1122 Sunrise Road, Oregon, WI 53575)
When: Friday June 30
Schedule and Information:
3:30 PM- Pits Open
5 PM- Big 8 Series Practice Begins
6:15 PM- Big 8 Series Qualifying
7:30 PM- Racing Begins
Big 8 Late Model Series (complete show highlighted by a 48 lap feature)
Great Northern Sportsman Series
Midwest Dash Series
Plus a HUGE Fireworks Display
“Whelen Heroes” & Seniors- $16
Students (Ages 12-17)- $10.00
Children (Ages 6-11)- $5
Kids (Ages 5 & under)- FREE
Family Pricing (Two adults & up to four students and/or children)- $40
REMAINING 2017 BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES SCHEDULE:
Fri June 30- Salute to America (Madison International Speedway, Oregon WI)
Fri July 28- Larry Detjens Memorial Race (State Park Speedway, Wausau WI)
Tues Aug 1- Dixieland Delight (Wisconsin Int’l Raceway, Kaukauna WI)
Sat Sept 23- 9th Annual ‘Thunderstruck 93’ (Elko Speedway, Elko New Market, MN)
Sat Sept 30- 52nd Annual National Short Track Championships (Rockford Speedway)
Sat Oct 7- 48th Oktoberfest Race Weekend (La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, West Salem, WI)
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please visit www.big8series.com