By: Eric Huenefeld

Being in the right spot at the right time was the right formula for Michael Bilderback. 

The reigning Big 8 Late Model Series champion ran a steady race throughout the 38 lap 'Dixieland Delight' Tuesday night at Wisconsin International Raceway, and found himself in the lead following a tangle between the race's top two runners with five laps to go. The tangle, between race leader Jeremy Miller and second place Jesse Bernhagen, resulted in Miller's car being towed away and Bernhagen being sent to the back of the field. The incident also resulted in Bilderback finding his way to the front of the line. 

But the job wasn't yet complete, as Bilderback had to sustain the lead throughout three restarts within the race's final laps. Each and every time the green flag flew, Bilderback was able to outdistance the competition. The South Beloit Illinois native beat Rich Schumann Jr to the finish line by one and a half carlengths. The runner up finish for Schumann was the high point of a "feast or famine" 2016 along the Big 8 Series trail, which has featured a third place run at Rockford in April and a breakage at Hawkeye Downs in June that sent Schumann home before Qualifying. 

Lakeville Minnesota's Michael Ostdiek continued his recent hot streak, with a third place finish in the 38 lap event. Ostdiek, who picked up his first-ever Big 8 Series win last Friday at State Park Speedway along with earning the victory at his hometrack (Elko Speedway) last Saturday, also climbed to second place in the Series standings. 

Making his move on late race restarts, J Herbst pocketed another Big 8 Series top five with a fourth place finish on Tuesday night. The fourth place effort for Herbst comes on the heels of a thrilling third place finish last Friday night at State Park Speedway, where the two-time LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway champion came back to third place from from dead last after sustaining a flat tire while leading. 

Central Wisconsin racing veteran Jeremy Lepak rounded out the top five at Kaukauna, with a fifth place effort. Lepak, who will return to the Big 8 tour at the season finale at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in October, also came home int he runner up position last Friday at State Park. 

Big 8 Late Model Series 
'Dixieland Delight' 
Race Results

1. #2 Michael Bilderback  South Beloit IL 
2. #54 Rich Schumann Jr  Portage WI 
3. #18 Michael Ostdiek  Lakeville MN
4. #82 J Herbst  West Salem WI 
5. #40 Jeremy Lepak  Ringle WI 
6. #28 Jesse Bernhagen  Markesan WI
7. #18 Mike Ehde  Prairie du Chien WI
8. #95 Wayne Freimund  Elkhorn WI 
9. #7 Joey Pontbriand  Norway MI 
10. #03 Cody Kippenhan  Ypsilanti MI 
11. #3 Tyler Hromadka  Brookfield WI 
12. #20 Zach Less  Manchester IA 
13. #49 Jerry Mueller  Richfield WI 
14. #12 Jim Duchow  Appleton WI 
15. #99 Hunter Drefahl  Evansville WI
16. #5 Jeremy Miller  Rockford IL 
17. #17 Grant Griesbach  Waukesha WI 
18. #01 Bryan Monday  Appleton WI 
19. #53 Jared Duda  St Michael MN 

Did Not Start- Jon Reynolds Jr, Brody Willett

Fast Time- Duchow (20.243  New Track Record)
Car Count- 21 Big 8 Late Models



By: Jana Wimmer


Billed as the main event of Friday night’s Miller Lite Detjens Memorial weekend at State Park Speedway, the Big 8 Late Model Series 58 lapper lived up to its billing and then-some. With three lead changes over the final 25 laps, there’s no question this will go down as an instant classic in the Big 8 Series books.

J. Herbst set fast time earlier in the day and started the 58-lap feature from the seventh position. While Lyle Nowak grabbed the early lead, Herbst quickly worked his way towards the front. The first caution of the night flew on lap three. The leader gets his/her own lane on the restart, while drivers behind get to pick a lane. With the inside lane the preferred lane at State Park Speedway, Herbst took a gamble and jumped to the outside, restarting in the third position.

The move paid off as Herbt quickly battled side by side with Nowak for the lead. Nowak cleared Herbst, but the No. 82 car fought back, this time diving to the inside and taking the lead on lap eight.

Just a few laps later the caution flew again and this time Michael Ostdiek and Michael Bilderback took advantage of choosing the outside lane on the restart. Herbst easily grabbed the lead again and Ostdiek settled into second. Nowak battled with Bilderback for third and Jeremy Lepak rapidly closed in on them from the fifth position.

Herbst’s lead had grown to over 15 car lengths when the yellow flag flew one more time. As the cars rolled under caution and got ready to pick a lane for the restart, Herbt visibly had a tire go flat and the leader was forced to pull into the pits. That handed the reigns over to Ostdiek, who was looking for the first Big 8 Series win of his career.

Ostdiek got a good restart, but now multi-time Big 8 Series Champion Jeremy Miller wanted a taste of the lead. With Miller on the outside, the two battled door to door for nine laps, with Ostdiek reclaiming the lead with 22 laps to go.

Bilderback moved into second with Lepak in tow. Lepak then moved his No. 40 around Bilderback and began to close in on Ostdiek. Lepak jumped to the high side and pulled even with Ostdiek; the two raced side by side for the lead with ten laps to go.

Ostdiek was able to use lap traffic to his advantage, taking the lead once again with seven laps to go and holding on to take the checkered flag.
“It feels wonderful,” said Ostdiek. “Our plan was to win a big one on the road and we finally did it, so it’s just awesome, especially with the Kulwicki driver development program. I was really hoping to get that first win with them. It’s definitely huge for us and I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Meanwhile the battles weren’t over. Lepak and Bilderback duked it for second and Herbst, who had driven all the way back through the field, was up to fourth. Lepak grabbed second and on the white flag lap, Herbst got by Bilderback for third.

“I just should have cut down in front of that lap car a little sooner, I hung it out there too long and gave him a chance to get back in there, that was my fault,” said Lepak. “The guys gave me a pretty good car, it was a good long run car we just, gosh damn, it’s gonna be hard to sleep tonight. I wanted to win for these guys so bad. Chad and Dan Devine give me the cars to race in every series, whether it’s a truck or Big 8 or Super Late Model, I’ve always got a car to race if we want to go have some fun, that’s why we do it. It’s fun running with these guys.”

“We definitely had the car to beat,” said Herbst. “Set fast time and just kind of used the heat race as a hot lap. We got the lead right away and the crew just said cruise, save your tires, save your tires, so I think while we lead I never touched the brake once. Then under that yellow I felt the right front go flat and I radioed in. I went in, the guys changed the tire and sent us back out and drove back through the field and finished third. I needed about four or five more laps.”

Larry Detjens Memorial (58 laps)
Race Results
1. 18 Michael Ostdiek
2. 40 Jeremy Lepak
3. 82 J Herbst
4. X Michael Bilderback
5. 54 Rich Schumann Jr
6. 5 Jeremy Miller
7. 49 Jerry Mueller
8. 32 Lyle Nowak
9. 75 Dillon Hammond
10. 17 Grant Greisbach
11. 13 Bryan Wrolstad
12. 53 Jared Duda
13. 99 Hunter Drefahl
14. 03 Cody Kippenhan
15. 99 Jake Zellmer
16. 3 Tyler Hromadka
17. 95 Wayne Freimund
18. 20 Zach Less
19. 79 Jeff Nowak
20. 16 Joel Clossey
21. 00 Brody Willett
22. 49 Tory Adams
23. 9 Jerry Brickner



By: Skip Erickson

With six different leaders and an unforgettable finish, Friday night's McGrathAuto.com "Clash at the Downs II" at Hawkeye Downs had a little something for everyone.

The ending of the 48 lap feature played like that old TV catchphrase "the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat."

Young guns Caleb Adrian and Michael Bilderback fought hard for the win over the race's final few laps, with Bilderback trying to start the season 2-for-2 in Big 8 competition, while Adrian was looking to become a repeat winner of "Clash at the Downs." As the two drivers hustled through lap traffic and approached the white flag, contact was made between both, with each driver's machines wiggling  off the fourth turn. With Bilderback barley able to straighten his car up just enough, Adrian's machine would not cooperate, sending the defending race winner backwards into turn one, where his Chevrolet backed into the outer retaining wall. 

With the leaders taking the white flag, the race was scored complete. Bilderback gained the victory, his second Big 8 Series win to start 2016 and third Late Model victory of the season overall. Adrian, who lead off and on throughout the 48 lap race and was a contender for the win all evening, was credited with twelfth place in the final running order. 

Griffin McGrath, who started the race from the tenth position, was credited with second place, while last year's event runner-up J Herbst came home in third. Herbst, who lead during the middle stages of the 48 lapper, also set the new Big 8 Late Model Series track record in qualifying.

2012 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year Jesse Bernhagen came home in fourth place, while veteran Mike Ehde rounded out the top five. Bernhagen and Ehde were among six drivers who battled for the fourth position over the course of the final 20 laps of the event. Jeremy Miller fought back from a slow start to garner a sixth place result, followed by Zach Less, a seventh place finisher in his first ever Big 8 Series start.

Teenagers Brody Willett and Grant Greisbach finished eighth and ninth. The ninth place for Greisbach was his third career Big 8 Series top-ten finish. Elkhorn Wisconsin's Wayne Freimund picked up the Powersource 'Power Mover of the Race' Award, advancing 12 positions from his starting spot outside of row eleven to a tenth place finish. 

Preliminary race winners included Ehde and Willett, along with Jerry Mueller and Jared Duda. Twenty-seven Big 8 Series Late Models made the trip to the legendary half-mile oval in eastern Iowa. 




By: Eric Huenefeld


Reigning Big 8 Late Model Series champion Michael Bilderback began his title defense in commanding fashion on Sunday afternoon at Rockford Speedway.


The 24 year old from South Beloit began the day by setting the new Big 8 Series Track Record in Qualifying and ended the day in victory lane as the winner of the 39th Annual Spring Classic, becoming just the seventh man to win the event multiple times.


Bilderback's road to the front began from fifth position while former Spring Classic winner Dale Nottestad and former Rockford Speedway Rookie of the Year Mitch Garfield led the field of 24 Big 8 Late Models to green for the 88 lap showdown. As the race took flight, it was Garfield who held the early advantage over Nottestad by a matter of a few feet, but on the fourth lap, Nottestad was able to slip ahead of Garfield for the lead. Soon after, Nottestad assumed the lead for himself, with two-time Big 8 Series champion Casey Johnson hot on his trail.


Nottestad and Johnson then raced away from the field, while Bilderback forged ahead to third. As the race wore on, Bilderback began to work over Johnson for the runner up spot. However, the battle never really materialized as Johnson's car suddenly slowed, bringing out a caution flag and ending his day. With Johnson's exit at lap 30, it set up a race at the front between Nottestad and Bilderback. Over the course of the next 23 laps, the two racers bobbed and weaved through lap traffic, with Bilderback able to get beside Nottestad at lap 50. After three laps of close-quarters racing, Bilderback steamed ahead of Nottestad for good on the 54th lap.


Bilderback was never seriously challenged again, although three yellow flags in the race's final 18 laps made things interesting and shook up the rest of the running order. Many top contenders, including Garfield, reigning Rockford Speedway champion Jake Gille and Kyle Shear, fell out of the event over the final 25 laps with varying mechanical woes. When the checkered flag flew, it was Bilderback winning his fourth career Big 8 Series main event, with Nottestad finishing in a distant second. Rich Schumann Jr made big moves over the race's final 25 laps, advancing from seventh to third in that time frame. Schumann's podium finish was his best ever showing at Rockford.


Wayne Freimund collected his third career Big 8 Series top five, running as high as third before coming home with a fourth place effort. Jon Reynolds Jr, who started the race in 15th position, was awarded fifth place. Wonder Lake Illinois driver Denny Norton Jr collected the $100 Powersource 'Power Mover of the Race' by virtue of advancing from his 23rd starting spot to an 8th place finish.


In other action Sunday, Hampshire's Jeremy Bloomberg held off the red-hot advances of Bill Prietzel to collect the victory in the 50 lap Mid-American Stock Car Series event. Bloomberg started on the front row and survived a wild race that saw numerous leaders fall out of contention with mechanical woes.


Chester Ace of Oregon Wisconsin was the overall winner of the American Ethanol Super Truck Series Twin 20 lap features, winning one feature and finishing second in the other. Johnsburg's Ken Calhoun, who also finished third in the Mid-American race, won his first ever feature race in the opening 20 lap Super Truck race. 


Sunday April 17 – “39th Annual Spring Classic” 88 Laps
Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)

Friday June 3 – ”Clash at the Downs II” 48 Laps
Hawkeye Downs (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Friday June 24 – “Salute to America” 48 Laps
Madison Int’l Speedway (Oregon, WI)

Friday July 29 – “Larry Detjens Memorial” 58 Laps
State Park Speedway (Wausau, WI)

Tuesday August 2 – “Dixieland Delight” 38 Laps
Wisconsin Int’l Raceway (Kaukauna, WI)

Saturday September 24 – “Thunderstruck” 58 Laps
Elko Speedway (Elko New Market, MN)

Saturday October 1 – “51st Nat’l Short Track Championships” 108 Laps
Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)

Saturday October 8 – “Oktoberfest Race Weekend” 68 Laps
La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway (West Salem, WI)