By: Russell J Wheeler

Two-time NASCAR Illinois State Champion and 2013 Rockford Speedway Track Champion Alex Papini simply won’t settle for one crack at victory during the 38th Annual Spring Classic Sunday April 12 at Rockford Speedway.

The Machesney Park native plans to campaign two cars in two divisions at this weekend’s event, the first major short track race of the year in the region.

Papini, the 2013 Big 8 Spring Classic winner, is again entered to run the Big 8 portion of the show with his familiar blue, black and silver number 39 car. Papini has collected 22 feature wins over the last two season in Late Model, among tops in the Midwest. Seventeen of those wins have come in the NASCAR Late Model division at Rockford.

Along with the familiar surroundings of his Big 8 Late Model, Papini plans to strap into a Mid-American Stock Car this Sunday for the first time ever. Papini’s Mid-American Series mount is owned by Rich and Karla Morschauser from Wisconsin, former championship car owners at Madison (WI) International Speedway.

The 38th Annual Spring Classic is set for this Sunday afternoon, April 12 at Rockford Speedway. Gates open at 11 AM, with Qualifying at 11:30 AM and the first race at 1 PM. Adult admission is $20, Students (ages 12-17) and Seniors $10, Children (ages 6-11) are $5, while Kids 5 & under are admitted free.

The Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet headlines the season-opening card with an 88 lap feature race. Joining the Big 8 Late Models on Sunday afternoon is the Quest Industrial Mid American Stock Car Series, which opens their season for the 23rd consecutive year at Rockford with a 50 lap main event and the American Ethanol Super Trucks, making their first ever trip to Rockford, contesting Twin 25 lap features.

For more information on Rockford Speedway and the 38th Annual Spring Classic, please call 815-633-1500 or visit For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit


By: Eric Huenefeld

For the eighth consecutive year, Powersource Racing Engines of Ingleside Illinois and the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet are partnering up to reward the ‘Hard Charger’ at each Big 8 Series event.

Again in 2015, the Powersource ‘Power Mover of the Race’ will be awarded to the driver who advances the most spots from their starting position in each and every Big 8 Series event. The ‘Power Mover of the Race’ receives a $100 bonus courtesy of Powersource Racing Engines after each Big 8 feature race.

Powersource Racing Engines was founded over 20 years ago to supply quality performance engines and machine work to the nation’s finest oval track and endurance racers. Through the years, Powersouce has expanded its reach into the marine, street performance, and vintage market. Powersource has also become a familiar name on the regional short track racing scene, powering several top racers in recent years.

For more information about Powersource Racing Engines, please visit their website or call them at 847-587-8999.

For more information about the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit


By: Eric Huenefeld

The countdown is on until the beginning of another exciting season of short track racing in the Midwest.

The first major short track race in the region takes the green flag next Sunday afternoon April 12, as the 38th Annual Spring Classic takes to the track at Rockford Speedway. For the eighth consecutive year, the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet headline Spring Classic, with an 88 lap feature the afternoon’s main attraction.

Some of the best race car drivers in the region have already filed their entries for the season opening affair, along with young up and comers hungry to make their name known at Spring Classic.

Leading the way is two time and reigning Big 8 Series champion Casey Johnson, also is a former Spring Classic winner. Last year, Johnson led the Series with four victories, including a thrilling last-lap win during ‘Short Track Saturday Night’ at the 49th National Short Track Championships. Johnson got the best of a three-way ‘green-white-checker’ sprint to the finish, squeaking past Dale Nottestad and Austin Nason for the win in the grueling 108 lap race.

Nason, the teenager from Roscoe Illinois, is looking to start 2015 the way he and his team ended 2014. Last year, Nason won his first ever Big 8 Series race at Slinger Super Speedway in July, then won two of the final three series races, at Elko (MN) Speedway’s ‘Thunderstruck’ and at the season-ending Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse (WI) Fairgrounds Speedway. Nason’s late season push last season propelled him to second in final Big 8 points. That momentum carried into February of this year, as Nason won a feature at New Smyrna (FL) Speedway during the prestigious World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

Former Spring Classic winner and Rockford area favorite Michael Bilderback has filed his entry for Spring Classic. Bilderback, who became the youngest driver ever to win Spring Classic back in 2008, will pilot a second car out of the garage of Wisconsin’s Adam Peschek, who has also entered Spring Classic following his first Big 8 Series top five at Rockford last September at National Short Track Championships. Another Rockford area favorite, Kyle Shear, returns to his home track to take part in this year’s Spring Classic. Shear has challenged for big wins before at Rockford, including a third place finish in the 2012 Spring Classic and a top five finish in last summer’s ‘Star Spangled 76.’

A surprise entry for Rockford Speedway’s Spring Classic is Lockport Illinois driver Josh Nelms. Nelms, the 2009 National Short Track Champion, will drive a Late Model fielded by Crystal Lake Illinois’ Erik Pierce, who plans to run the Mid-American Series race at Rockford on April 12. Along with being a former winner of Rockford’s famed 200 lap Super Late Model race, Nelms is a former Rockford Late Model Rookie of the Year and has even won an enduro at the high banked quarter mile.

Other strong contenders who have entered Spring Classic include two-time LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway champion J Herbst and former Dells Raceway Park champion Rich Schumann Jr. Herbst, the West Salem Wisconsin resident, had his best season ever with the Big 8 Series last year, surging to sixth in final 2014 points. Schumann, meanwhile, has had strong showings in sporadic Big 8 appearances in recent years but has also run into hard luck. Will one of these top drivers find victory lane at Rockford on April 12?

Several youthful challengers have also filed their entries for Spring Classic. Included in that group is 2014 Rockford Speedway Rookie of the Year Dana Czach, along with 2014 Big 8 Late Model Series Rookie of the Year Collin Olson. Lakeville Minnesota teenager Michael Ostdiek, a former Quarter Midget and Legend Champion, has also declared for Spring Classic and plans to chase the entire Big 8 schedule in 2015.

The 38th Annual Spring Classic is set for Sunday afternoon, April 12 at Rockford Speedway. Gates open at 11 AM, with Qualifying at 11:30 AM and the first race at 1 PM. Joining the Big 8 Late Model Series on the season-opening card is the Mid American Stock Car Series, which opens their season for the 23rd consecutive year at Rockford with a 50 lap main event. The American Ethanol Super Trucks also make their first ever trip to Rockford Speedway April 12, contesting Twin 25 lap features.

For more information on Rockford Speedway and the 38th Annual Spring Classic, please call 815-633-1500 or visit For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit


By: Cole Hammer
The Official Entry Blank for the 38th annual Spring Classic featuring the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet at Rockford Speedway on Sunday afternoon April 12 is now available online at

This year, an 88 lap feature event kicks off the eleventh season of racing for the ‘Best Weekly Warriors in the Country.’ The popular Weekly Warrior Wages program which rewards each driver up to $250 per event based on their weekly racing and Big 8 Series success also continues again this year.

Racing action begins Sunday April 12 at 1PM, officially bringing the Midwest racing season to life. Joining the Big 8 Late Models at the season opening showcase are the Mid-American Stock Car Series and the American Ethanol Super Truck Series.

There are multiple chances for Big 8 teams to get on track at Rockford Speedway for Practice in advance of Spring Classic. Saturday April 4 features an Open Practice session from 11 AM until 2:30 PM, while Spring Classic participants also have a chance to practice Saturday April 11 from Noon to 4 PM.

For additional information regarding the 38th Spring Classic and Rockford Speedway, please visit or call 815-633-1500.

Rockford Speedway Spring Classic Entry Form (PDF)


ROCKFORD, ILL. – Hoosier Racing Tire is proud to announce the continued partnership with the Big 8 Late Model Series in 2015.

The feature tire for the Late Models will be the Hoosier S800 which will now feature an additional third size. This addition will only enhance the racing experience for the eight marquee matchups.

“Hoosier Racing Tire is committed to providing the best tires for our season,” stated Big 8 Race Day Director David Deery. “In working with them and providing our feedback we feel together we have come up with a great product that both our drivers and fans will enjoy.”

The Big 8 Late Model season kicks off with an 88-lap event in Loves Park, Illinois for the 38th Annual Spring Classic on Sunday, April 12.

“We have a great relationship with the Big 8 and we want to do our part to strengthen that while enhancing our products,” stated Hoosier Racing Tire Oval Asphalt Business Unit Manager Irish Saunders. “These three compound sizes will provide great racing and we’re excited for the upcoming series.”

The Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet features the top weekly short track Late Model drivers from Northern Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa going wheel to wheel in multiple events each season with champions and challengers providing short track excitement.

Hoosier Racing Tire is the largest manufacturer of racing tires in the world with distributors located both domestically and worldwide.  For more information visit or follow us on Facebook (, Twitter (@HoosierTire) and Instagram (HoosierRacingTire).


Hoosier S800 Sizes

27.5 x 8

27.0 x 8

26.5 x 8


By: Eric Huenefeld

The countdown is on.

In just under three months, the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet returns to action, kicking off its eleventh season. This year, the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” embark on another exciting trek, visiting tracks in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa while once again taking part in many of the most prestigious events on the Midwest racing calendar.

The action begins on Sunday afternoon April 12 as part of the 38th Annual Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway, when the Big 8 Series headlines the region’s traditional season opening event with an 88 lap feature race. Joining the Big 8 Late Models on the card will be the Mid American Stock Car Series and the American Ethanol Super Truck Series.

Exciting new dates on the 2015 schedule include the Series’ first ever trip to the state of Iowa on Friday night June 5, as the Big 8’s best take to the half-mile at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. The upcoming season marks the second consecutive year in which the Big 8 style Late Model will be the featured as the premier division at the legendary Iowa facility during their regular Friday racing program.

Also returning to the Big 8 Series schedule is Wisconsin International Raceway, where for the first time since 2009, the Big 8 Late Model Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour share the stage as part the return of the ‘Dixieland 250’ to the Midwest racing landscape Tuesday night August 4. The 38 lap ‘Dixieland Delight’ for Big 8 Late Models is set to be the under card for the 250 lap Super Late Model event later that evening.

Traditional dates returning to the 2015 schedule include a return to ‘Wisconsin’s Fastest Half Mile,’ Madison International Speedway on Friday night June 26, as part of the traditional ‘Salute to America’ program, which features a full-night of racing action and a large aerial fireworks display.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Big 8 Late Model Series headlines Friday night of the Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend at State Park Speedway in Wausau Wisconsin on July 24. The event at State Park, which again is set for 58 laps, has become one on of the most popular stops on the Big 8 schedule. Another popular Big 8 Series date, the ‘King of the High Banks’ at Slinger Super Speedway, is tentatively scheduled for Sunday evening July 12.

“Three Races in Three Weeks” will determine the 2015 Big 8 Late Model Series champion. The three-race swing begins in Minnesota on Saturday September 26 at Elko Speedway as part of the ‘Thunderstruck 93.’ One week later, the Big 8 Series returns to Rockford Speedway as part of the 50th Anniversary National Short Track Championships on Saturday night October 3, running a grueling 108 lap main event as part of ‘Short Track Saturday Night.’ The curtain then closes on the 2015 Big 8 Late Model Series season Saturday night October 10, with a 68 lap championship feature during the 46th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway.

Also in 2015, the Big 8 Late Model Series will again utilize the Hoosier S800 tire for all of its events.

For additional information regarding the Big 8 Late Model Series visit or contact the Series Office at 815-633-0035.

2015 Big 8 Late Model Series Schedule

Sunday April 12- Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)
38th Annual Spring Classic (88 laps)

Friday June 5- Hawkeye Downs (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Inaugural Event (48 laps)

Friday June 26- Madison International Speedway (Oregon, WI)
Salute to America (48 laps)

Sunday July 12- Slinger (WI) Super Speedway (*- Tentative)
King of the High Banks (68 laps)

Friday July 24- State Park Speedway (Wausau, WI)
Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend (58 laps)

Tuesday August 4- Wisconsin International Raceway (Kaukauna, WI)
‘Dixieland Delight’ (38 laps)

Saturday Sept 26- Elko (MN) Speedway
7th Annual Thunderstruck ‘93’ (58 laps)

Saturday October 3- Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)
50th Anniversary National Short Track Championships (108 laps)

Saturday October 10- La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway (West Salem, WI)
46th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend (68 laps)


By: Jana Wimmer

Teenager Austin Nason took the lead eight laps into the Big 8 Late Model Series’ 68 lap feature Saturday night at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway and never looked back, winning his third Series race of 2014.

“It’s pretty special,” said Nason in victory lane, “Especially to win here, I’ve finished third, second and now I win, so it’s pretty cool.”

As Nason grabbed the lead early, behind him fast qualifier Jeremy Miller and Big 8 point leader Casey Johnson worked their way through the field. By lap 17 Miller was up to third, looking to continue his march towards the front. Johnson, looking to wrap up his second straight Big 8 Series title, started the race in fourth place and kept in step with Miller in the races early paces.

By lap 23, Miller climbed to second and began the task of closing up on Nason, who had amassed a large lead early in the race. Just laps later, the caution flag flew. The yellow placed Miller and Johnson right behind the leader Nason. Despite the restart placing both Miller and Johnson on Nason’s bumper, the youngster from Roscoe Illinois got a terrific jump on the restart and ran away from the field.

Over the course of the next 20 laps, Miller began to cut into Nason’s lead and by lap 45, Miller caught Nason and pressured him for the lead. Miller stalked Nason for the next seven laps, not able to find a way around, when another caution flag flew, unfortunately for Miller as he and John DeAngelis Jr tangled going into the first turn. The incident sent Miller to the rear and ended his hopes of capturing his eleventh career Big 8 Series win.

”I knew Jeremy was coming, I thought he was going to be pretty fast,” said Nason, “He got to second there and started running me down. On those restarts there I had to get going and that’s exactly what I did, then he went to the back and kind of just rode.”

On the ensuing restart, Nason got another terrific jump on the field, catapulting himself to the lead again as point leader Johnson moved into second place.
Johnson began his pursuit of Nason but no sooner had a mirror full of Zach Riddle. Riddle pressured Johnson, which allowed Nason put some distance on the battle for second. Riddle eventually grabbed second from Johnson in the race’s final laps. Nason won the race going away, with Riddle finishing second.

Johnson, meanwhile, held onto third place in the race’s final laps. The third place finish clinched the Edgerton Wisconsin racer’s second straight Big 8 Series championship.

“Me and Casey went at it all year for the championship,” said Nason, “It’s pretty cool to see him win and I guess to come home in second place to him, he’s a great guy and couldn’t ask for anything better.”

“It’s cool to repeat it again,” said Johnson, “It was all about consistency with Austin. He had bad luck in one race and I didn’t and that’s about all it came down to.”

Johnson’s second Big 8 Series championship makes him just the second driver to win multiple championships in the ten year history of the series (with Miller being a four-time series champion). Johnson finished the season with four Big 8 Series wins and currently sits third on the all-time Series wins list, behind Miller and Jon Reynolds Jr.


By: Eric Huenefeld

The Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet wraps up its tenth season this Saturday October 4 during the Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem Wisconsin. When the checkered flag falls on the final race of the series’ tenth year, history could be made.

Edgerton Wisconsin’s Casey Johnson leads the Big 8 Series point standings heading into LaCrosse and if the 24 year old can hold the point lead and win the series championship, it will be his second consecutive Big 8 crown. If Johnson clinches another series championship, he joins four-time series champion Jeremy Miller as the only multi-time champion since the series began counting points in 2005.

Last season, Johnson and Dale Nottestad came into LaCrosse separated by merely one point. As the last race day of 2013 progressed, both drivers not only found themselves in a battle for the series championship, but in a battle to simply make the race. Both men locked themselves into the 68 lap main event via the last chance race and started the championship feature side-by-side. Nottestad’s day-long hard luck continued into the feature, while Johnson made just enough headway to clinch his first series championship.

This season, Johnson has won four races on the Big 8 tour, more than anyone else. A win at Oktoberfest not only would clinch a series championship in style, but it also would tie the single season mark of five wins in one year (set by Ross Kenseth in 2009).

Johnson’s chief rival headed into Oktoberfest is Roscoe Illinois teenager Austin Nason, who sits 45 points behind Johnson in second place. Nason is a multi-time winner this year in Big 8 competition, winning his first-ever series race at Slinger (WI) Speedway in July, then following it up with a win just two weeks ago at Elko (MN) Speedway, where Nason held off a last lap charge from Johnson.

This weekend marks the eleventh visit by the Big 8 Series to LaCrosse and the tenth Big 8 Series race at Oktoberfest. The Big 8 Series began its engagement at ‘Fest back in 2005, racing on Thursday night, a tradition that continued 2008. The race has since become a mainstay on Saturday night of Oktoberfest and has expanded in recent years to 68 laps. The first Big 8 68 lapper at Oktoberfest in 2011 saw local favorite Skylar Holzhausen charge from seventeenth starting spot to the lead with just a few laps to go en route to the victory. Last season, Minnesota’s Chris Marek made a late race move on Austin Nason to capture his first ever Oktoberfest win.

Oktoberfest Fest Race Weekend runs through Sunday afternoon at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem Wisconsin. The 45 year old event features over 500 cars and over 600 laps of feature racing including the Big 8 Late Model Series 68 lap event this Saturday night October 4. For more information on Oktoberfest Race Weekend, including a complete schedule of events and more, please visit

For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit


WEST SALEM, WI – Close to 80 ‘weekly warriors’ who have notched wins at their home tracks in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa driving the popular Big 8-style Late Models are among the drivers eligible for the ‘JMcK 63’, which will be held this Sunday October 5th at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway as part of the Oktoberfest Race Weekend . The Late Model invitational event, honoring the late short track auto racing promoter John McKarns, returns to the final day of Oktoberfest for the fifth consecutive season.

Modeled after the Dick Trickle 99 race format McKarns introduced to ‘Fest in 2007, the JMcK 63 is contested in three 21 lap segments with the first segment being lined up by draw, the second by inversion and third based on the overall point total heading into the final segment. ‘JMcK’ was an abbreviated version of John McKarns’ signature over the years.

This invitational event is open to 2014 weekly late model and Big 8 Series feature winners, former Big 8 Series Oktoberfest Champions, past ARTGO Challenge Series top guns as well as the top six in Big 8 Series points.

The first installment of the JMcK back in 2010 saw local favorite Skylar Holzhausen take the win in dramatic fashion. In 2011, Kyle Shear claimed top honors as he passed an impressive 34 cars throughout the day to capture victory. In 2012, Zach Riddle capped off an unforgettable Oktoberfest Weekend, winning the JMcK one day after finishing first in the Big 8 Series’ championship race on the half-mile oval. Last season, Minnesota’s Chris Marek nearly became the first driver to sweep all three segments of the event on his road to victory.

For additional information regarding the Oktoberfest Race Weekend, please call 608-786-1525 or visit

JMcK 63 Big 8 Late Model Invitational
Oktoberfest Race Weekend
Sunday Afternoon October 5, 2014
La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway
(76 Eligible Drivers as of 10/1/14)

Adam Degenhardt- LaCrosse Speedway
Alex Papini- Rockford Speedway
Alex Prunty- Slinger Speedway
Alex Stumpf- Wisconsin Int’l Raceway
Andy Wendt- Columbus 151 Speedway
Austin Nason- Big 8 Series
Bobby Wilberg- 2012 JMcK Segment Winner
Brad Powell- LaCrosse Speedway
Brady Liddle- Columbus 151 Speedway
Brent Strelka- Wisconsin Int’l Raceway
Brett Wenzel- Wisconsin Int’l Raceway
Casey Johnson- Jefferson Speedway/Big 8 Series
Chris Marek- Elko Speedway/2013 JMcK winner
Chris Quam- Jefferson Speedway
Cole Anderson- Elko Speedway
Corey Manders- Wisconsin Int’l Raceway
Cory Kemkes- Wisconsin Int’l Raceway
Dale Nottestad- Jefferson Speedway
Dan Lensing- Dells Raceway Park
Danny Church- Slinger Speedway
David Cabelka- State Park Speedway
Don Gaserude- Columbus 151 Speedway
Doug Brown- Elko Speedway
Dudley Fleck- Hawkeye Downs/ARTGO Star
Gary Krueger- ARTGO Star
Griffin McGrath- Hawkeye Downs
Harley Jankowski- LaCrosse Speedway
J Herbst- 2012 Segment Winner
Jake Gille- Rockford Speedway
Jake Vanoskey- Columbus 151 Speedway
Jack Stern- Slinger Speedway
Jake Carpenter- Wisconsin Int’l Raceway
Jason Schuler- 2011 JMcK Segment Winner/ARTGO Star
Jeremy Miller- Past Big 8 Series Champion
Jesse Bernhagen- Dells Raceway Park
Jim Duchow- Wisconsin Int’l Raceway
Jimmy Ganski- State Park Speedway
Joey Gase- Hawkeye Downs
John DeAngelis Jr- Madison International Speedway
Jon Lemke- Elko Speedway/ARTGO Star
Jon Reynolds Jr- Rockford Speedway/Big 8 Series
Kevin Nuttleman- Over 100 career La Crosse wins
Kyle Shear- 2011 JMcK Winner
Kyle Smith- Jefferson Speedway
Lawrence Berthiume- Elko Speedway
Lincoln Keeser- Columbus 151 Speedway
Luke Westenberg- Jefferson Speedway
Michael Beamish- Elko Speedway
Michael Gruenberg- Jefferson Speedway
Michael Ostdiek- Elko Speedway
Mike Beyer- Past Big 8 Fest winner
Mike Brooks- State Park Speedway
Mike Carlson- LaCrosse Speedway
Mike Ehde- Columbus 151 Speedway
Mike Koeneke- LaCrosse Speedway
Mike Meyerhofer- Slinger Speedway
Natalie Decker- State Park Speedway
Nick Beaver- Elko Spedway
Nick Nolden- Dells Raceway Park
Ricky Bilderback- Rockford Speedway
Ron Bishofberger- Columbus 151 Speedway
Ryan Kamish- Elko Speedway
Ryan Zielski- Slinger Speedway
Shane Morrissey- Dells Raceway Park
Shaun Scheel- Jefferson Speedway
Skylar Holzhausen- Past Big 8 ‘Fest Winner/2010 JMcK Winner
Stephen Scheel- Slinger Speedway
Steve Carlson- La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway/ARTGO Star
Steve Rubeck- Past Big 8 ‘Fest Winner
Tim Plummer- Hawkeye Downs
Todd Korish- La Cross Fairgrounds Speedway/Past Big 8 ‘Fest Winner
Tory Adams- Columbus 151 Speedway
Tory Bagley- Jefferson Speedway
Ty Majeski- LaCrosse Speedway
Wayne Freimund- Slinger Speedway
Zach Riddle- Past Big 8 ‘Fest Winner/2012 JMcK Winner

To Enter this event or for eligibility questions please contact Gregg McKarns at 815-703-0285


By: Eric Huenefeld

Casey Johnson only led one lap Saturday night at Rockford Speedway.

But it was the most important lap.

Johnson survived a caution-filled 108 lap feature event and came out on top of a thrilling three-way battle during a green-white-checkered finish to capture his first National Short Track Championship win and his fourth win of the season in the Big 8 Late Model Series.

Dale Nottestad was the driver to beat for most of the event. Nottestad, the two time Jefferson Speedway track champion, took the race lead at the drop of the green flag from pole sitter Jake Gille. As the race progressed, several drivers arrived at Nottestad’s bumper, with few able to make a move for the lead. In the second half of the race, seven-time Rockford Speedway track champion Bobby Wilberg made his way to second spot and promptly began a wrestling match for the lead with Nottestad. The two determined drivers traded paint and punches over the next several laps. Wilberg at one point ripped the lead from Nottestad, but soon after it was Nottestad slamming back into the top spot.

Behind the lead battle, the mixing pot of contenders began to come into focus. Johnson, who sat in the top five for a bevy of the race, began to gain momentum. Meanwhile, teenager Austin Nason made his return to the front of the field after a disappointing start to the race. Nason, who was involved in an early race incident, picked his way through the field from the back and by lap 75 was again in the top five. 2014 Rockford Speedway Rookie of the Year Dana Czach also fought back from repeated misfortune, finding himself near the top five late in the race.

A final yellow flag flew with two laps to go, bringing the pack close to leader Nottestad. By this point, Nason had arrived in second place, while Johnson sat in third. Nason restarted on the inside of Nottestad, pushing the issue as the two raced off into turn one. Nason slipped into the lead on the backstretch as Notttestad and Johnson then raced side-by-side. As the leaders came back to the white flag, Nottestad returned the favor on Nason, wiggling him loose off of turn four. This allowed Johnson to build momentum for a run at the lead. As the three cars entered turn two, they became three wide, as Nottestad knocked Nason loose, sending the youngster up the track. Johnson meanwhile, went below both drivers and the race was on! Nason settled behind Johnson and Nottestad in turn three and as the top two sent sparks flying out of the fourth turn. Nason then dove to the bottom making it three wide at the line. Johnson won the race by a matter of inches over Nottestad. Nason settled for third. The win helped Johnson protect his Big 8 point lead, as the Edgerton Wisconsin driver seeks a second straight Big 8 Series crown.

Oconomowoc Wisconsin youngster Adam Peschek made his first Big 8 start one to remember, surviving the race and staying out of trouble late, en route to a fourth place finish. Czach meanwhile, finished his first ever Big 8 Series race in fifth, one night after finishing fourth in the Weekly Warrior Late Model 49 lapper.

In other action Saturday night…

Jefferson Wisconsin’s Jason Thoma capped off an unforgettable weekend at Rockford Speedway, winning the Great Northern Sportsman Series 50 lap feature race. Thoma, who one night earlier was the winner of the 40 lap Sportsman feature, was dominant in Saturday night’s 50 lapper, storming past three-time Rockford Speedway champion Doug Bennett for the lead early. Thoma was never seriously challenged again, leading by as much as half a lap late in the race. Rockford’s Matt Lundberg, a former NSTC winner himself, finished the race in second. Minnesota’s Jeremy Wolff, making his first trip to Rockford in over eight years, ran the extreme high line on his way to a third place finish.

Dusty Mann, who came into the evening second in the Great Northern Sportsman Series points, finished the race in fourth position. The fourth place finish for Mann is his second top five finish at Rockford this year, following a second place in July to Thoma during the GNSS’s first stop at the high banked quarter mile in July. Daryl Gerke, last years winner of the 50 lap race, came home in fifth, one night after finishing third.

In the Hobby Stox division, it was Jimmy Robinson who again the class of the field. Robinson used the extreme bottom groove of the track to advance from deep in the field to second place in short order. Robinson then had the tall task of chasing down Mike Meyers for the race lead. After stampeding past Scotte Lemke for the lead in the race’s first lap, Meyers stretched his lead to over a straightaway early. Once Robinson reached second place, he began to slice into Meyers’ lead. When the race’s only yellow flag flew on lap 13, Robinson had cut a straightaway advantage to merely three carlengths. The ensuing restart provided the Orfordville Wisconsin driver a chance to take the lead, which he did. Robinson was not challenged over the final 14 laps on his way to a fifth Hobby Stox NSTC win. Meyers collected second, while Dustin Ward was third. Chester Williams, who earlier set the Hobby Stox track record, finished the race in fourth, while Jason Van Hise collected his second top five of the weekend by rounding out the top five.