Story by: Caleb Slouha (Hawkeye Downs PR)
Leading up to the start of the “Clash at the Downs V” at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids Iowa on Friday night, Nick Egan wasn’t thinking this would be his breakthrough week.
After a big wreck at his home track in Wisconsin just five days prior, Egan was left with a bent stub among other significant damage. The team worked hard to get it fixed just in time to make the trip to Iowa for the opening race of the 2019 Big 8 Late Model Series season.
“At two o’clock this morning we were just about ready to load up,” the 2018 series rookie said in victory lane. “The only testing I had was driving it to the hauler, it’s really scary coming to a big track with no testing after a big wreck like that.”
Their hard work paid off, as Egan survived the chaos throughout the race to grab his first career series victory at the end.
Calamity struck even before racing even began, when Minnesota’s Grant Brown had an issue in qualifying and went into the turn three wall, ending his night.
Then it was time for the 48 lap feature event. Before a full lap of green was made, Chad Walen and Mark Ironside made contact—prompting a full restart. Matt Lundberg took the early lead until Brody Willett assumed the top spot on the race’s third lap.
Willett continued to lead until a caution came out with 16 to go, meaning fast qualifier, Griffin McGrath, would be lined up right behind him. Two laps later, the drivers made contact coming out of turn four, sending both head-on into the wall. Both drivers were okay, but their night was over.
When the race was restarted, it was Michael Bilderback and Egan who led the charge. As the two got side by side, slight contact was made, giving Egan the head spot and dropping Bilderback backwards. From there it was clear sailing for Egan, who was able to drive away and collect his first-ever Big 8 Late Model Series victory in just his second full season racing with the series.
“We were lined up for the red flag, I saw Mikey (Bilderback) looked like he had a tire going down, and I knew I could get by him,” Egan said. “We took a big swing at it after the heat race, and the adjustments we made really helped and brought us here.”
A second place finish was enough for a big smile as Lundberg climbed out of the car. When asked if he thought he would end up where he did:
“Early on? No!,’ He said. “As the night went on the car got better and better and the cautions helped us cool the tires down then we were able to get by guys.”
The next event for the Big 8 Late Model Series is scheduled for Friday, June 28th at Madison International Speedway in Oregon Wisconsin, with the traditional running of the “Salute to America” 48 lap event. Along with a large post-race Fireworks Display, the Big 8 ‘weekly warriors’ are set to share the spotlight at Madison with the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series.