Reynolds Jr. Holds Off Johnson To Capture Big 8 Win At State Park Speedway
Written By: Gregg Paul
If Victory Lane is the spot that every racer wants to be, then as of late Driver X Jon Reynolds Jr. has marked that spot as his own. Reynolds Jr. picked up his third win of the season in the Big 8 Series out of the five races run so far. Reynolds Jr. battled all race long with Casey Johnson and had to hold off a furious charge at the end to secure the victory.
Reynolds Jr. survived a spin by Jeff Nowak right in front of him with just eight laps remaining as well as the subsequent restart. Reynolds Jr. had just one clear thought when Nowak spun.
“Miss him,” said Reynolds Jr. “I think it was pretty close. I was just trying to get him to not catch my right rear, my right side.”
It was a night of many near misses as just as the green flag flew Dave Edwards spun in turn two and bottled up the whole field behind him. There was slight contact with a number of cars as they piled into each other, with the worst of the damage being cosmetic or in the case of fast qualifier Jesse Bernhagen, getting a flat right rear tire from the contact.
As the green flag flew for the second time, Casey Johnson jumped into the lead with Jon Reynolds Jr. tucking into second. Dale Nottestad and John DeAngelis Jr. raced for third with J Herbst rounding out the top five.
The yellow would come out on lap three when Brent Edmunds got into the back of Austin Nason causing Nason to spin off of turn four. Both were sent to the rear of the field.
When racing resumed, Johnson and Reynolds Jr. started to pull away from the pack and quickly put several car lengths back to the third place battle behind them. Lap after lap they would increase the distance back to third. Just fourteen laps in Johnson and Reynolds Jr. put a full straightaway between themselves and DeAngelis Jr., who had snuck past Nottestad into third.
The leaders began to encounter lapped traffic on lap 19 as they approached the car of Collin Olson. Johnson dove to the inside of Olson in turn three and as they came off of turn four the two made contact as they raced side by side. Johnson bobbled momentarily, but recovered to pull away from Olson and keep the lead.
Lapped traffic continued to be problematic for the leaders as the lapped cars were first ducking inside then outside leaving the leaders to guess which line to take. Reynolds Jr. ducked to the inside of Johnson on lap 38 as they came up on the car of Mike Ehde. Johnson was able to use Ehde as a pick to maintain the lead heading into turn one.
Once they cleared the lapped cars, Reynolds Jr. was able to get underneath Johnson again on lap 43. Johnson battled hard side by side with Reynolds Jr. for a couple of laps, but Reynolds Jr. drove Johnson up the banking in turn three to clear for the lead on lap 45.
The yellow would come out again with just eight laps to go when Jeff Nowak spun right in front of the leaders. It was hard to tell if Nowak spun on his own or got a little help, but nonetheless Nowak spun dead in the middle of the backstretch. Reynolds Jr. dove to the inside of the track to avoid Nowak, while Johnson went to the outside. The car of Todd Handrick wasn’t as fortunate, as he clipped the right side of his car tearing loose the right side fender.
This would reset the field and leave an eight lap shootout. However, Nowak did not heed race control when he tried to gain spots on the outside when the cone appeared. When the green flag came out and the cars headed into turn one, Nowak and Nason made contact and spun in turn two to bring out the yellow again. Nason could not get his car refired and was pushed off the track.
Another attempt at a restart saw Reynolds Jr. get a great jump and clear ahead of Johnson and DeAngelis Jr. Johnson got right back on Reynolds Jr.’s bumper as he tried to retake the lead. Johnson seemed to get into the corners much better, but Reynolds Jr. had the bite off and pulled away ever so slightly. Johnson would close back up getting into the corners, but simply ran out of laps as Reynolds Jr. got to the checkers to pick up his third win out of the five Big 8 Series races in 2014.
Reynolds Jr. was happy about the win, but had a hard time with the lapped cars.
“No, not at all, but that’s how it’s been these last couple of races,” said Reynolds Jr. “Look at where we race. We race on the toughest bull rings in the Midwest. They’re very small tracks, very tight tracks. You’re going to have to use traffic, you’re not going to be out there by yourself drafting.”
Being on another tough bull ring and dealing with traffic all race, Reynolds Jr. wasn’t even sure how he took the lead.
“I don’t remember,” said Reynolds Jr. “As a driver you’re just waiting for that hole and you’re so focused on where that quarter panel is or where the other quarter panel is. The hole kind of opened up and I was just able to sneak in there and just pinched him (Johnson) on the outside.”
Casey Johnson finished a strong second, but he was not happy afterwards.
“They’ve caught Reynolds cheating twice and haven’t done anything about it,” said Johnson. “To lose to him again pisses me off.”
When asked about what kind of cheating, Johnson gave a brief response.
“Right rear is tied up,” said Johnson. “It’s hard to explain in a short amount of time but they caught him and they aren’t doing anything about it……favorite”
The incident when Nowak spun in front of the leaders may have been not so innocent according to Johnson.
“The 79 car? You mean the one he spun out and they let him keep his spot,” asked Johnson. “I figured I had the lead there.”
Did Johnson see Reynolds Jr. actually spin out Nowak?
“Yes, he picked him up and spun him,” said Johnson. “Since McKarns left it’s pretty much all fallen to s**t and everybody out here knows it. That’s why we don’t have the cars that we used to. It’ll just get worse before it gets better.”
Obviously the frustrations are mounting, but cooler heads will usually prevail in due time.
1. X Jon Reynolds Jr.
2. 5 Casey Johnson
3. 7 Johnny DeAngelis Jr.
4. 51 Dale Nottestad
5. 82 J Herbst
6. 87 Brent Edmunds
7. 28 Jesse Bernhagen
8. 18 Mike Ehde
9. 5 Dave Edwards
10. 18 Brady Liddle
11. 75 Mike Beyer
12. 2 Eric Wilhite
13. 23 Casey Strese
14. 39 Todd Handrick
15. 27 Collin Olson
16. 14 Austin Nason
17. 79 Jeff Nowak
18. 97 Travis Friske
19. 2 Tim Sargent
20. 46 Tom Jasinski
21. 47 Jeff Spatz
X Marks The Spot As Reynolds Jr. Nicks Big 8 Win From Nolden At Dells Raceway Park
Written By: Gregg Paul
The Big 8 Series North American Cup 68 at Dells Raceway Park came down to the last corner on the last lap to decide a winner. Nick Nolden had led all previous sixty seven laps and was looking to lead that final lap. However, lapped traffic racing side by side as well as Jon Reynolds Jr. turned the thrill of victory into the anger of defeat.
Coming off of turn two on the final lap Nolden ran up on the cars of Shane Morrissey and Michael Ostdiek racing side by side down the backstretch. Both cars split wide forcing Nolden to go three wide up the middle to try to get through. That left an opening down low heading into turn three that Reynolds Jr. looked to fill as they made contact and pushed up the banking in turn three. Reynolds Jr. was able to turn under Nolden coming to the checkers and picked up the controversial win.
“I saw a chance for victory,” said Reynolds Jr. “It was three wide and all I heard was “three wide” and then the inside opened up and I just had to dive in there and take a shot at it. By the time we got to the finish line we were ahead.”
Was it merely just one of those last lap racing deals?
“It was kind of like, ’what would Dale do’?” asked Reynolds Jr. referring to the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. who was infamous for his win at all costs attitude.
Nick Nolden on the other hand wasn’t buying that mentality.
“The lapped traffic, I didn’t know where to go,” said Nolden. “I was holding my own lane, I gave him the bottom and he pushed up like four or five grooves like a doofus. I’m so irritated right now, but I’ve got to thank this team for everything they have done. This won’t be the last time that me and Driver X race.”
Nolden and Casey Johnson led the field to the green flag with Nolden jumping out to the early lead over Johnson. Dan Lensing spun in turn four before the first lap was completed causing a complete restart from the top.
The second attempted start of the race was just like the first with Nolden getting to the lead over Johnson with Dale Nottestad and Steve Dobbratz close behind.
Nottestad ducked under Johnson for second and moved in on Nolden to challenge for the lead on lap 6. Johnson began to slide back in the pack being stuck on the outside as Reynolds Jr. got by for third on lap 12.
Luke Westenberg brought out the first caution of the race on lap 17 when he spun in turn three and backed into the outside wall. There was only minor damage and Westenberg rejoined the race at the tail.
The ensuing restart saw the field accordion in the middle with cars making contact in turn three. Wayne Freimund was spun out and contact from other cars left Freimund’s car leaking fluids on the track. The safety crew had to spread a lot of speedy dry on the track and it took them a while to blow it all off in order to go back racing safely.
When racing resumed, Nolden again jumped out to the lead with Nottestad and Johnson racing side by side for second. Reynolds Jr. was running in fourth looking for an opportunity to open to move up. Nottestad and Johnson rubbed coming off of turn four on lap 18 with Nottestad clearing on the inside to take over second. Reynolds Jr. followed into third as Johnson was still on the high side.
Tim Sargent moved past Dobbratz for the fourth spot on lap 20, but two laps later Dobbratz made contact with Sargent in turn four spinning Sargent to bring out the yellow. Both were sent to the rear.
Nolden took advantage of the Big 8 restart where the leader has the front row alone and maintained the lead. Nottestad cleared Johnson for second with Reynolds Jr. back in fourth. Johnson moved back to third by taking advantage of the cone, but was quickly sliding back on the outside again. Rich Schumann Jr. got by Johnson for fifth on lap 26.
Nottestad kept the pressure on Nolden, but couldn’t seem to be able to make the pass. Lap after lap Nottestad would look to the inside of Nolden, but could not get off the corners as well to complete the pass.
Another yellow would come out just before the halfway mark when Jake Zellmer spun in turn three. When the cone came out Schumann Jr. was the first car to take the high side and moved into the second spot.
Nolden took off when the green came out with Schumann Jr. sliding past Nottestad for second, with Reynolds Jr. and Lensing rounding out the top five. Nolden was able to open up a few car lengths as Schumann Jr. and Nottestad battled for second. Schumann Jr. got loose in turn two on lap 37 and slid up the hill allowing Nottestad and Reynolds Jr. to get by. Lensing and Austin Nason would also get by a lap later dropping Schumann Jr. back to sixth.
Nolden continued to lead Nottestad but was still feeling the pressure. Nottestad would look to the inside of Nolden getting into the corners but could not get off the corners as well. Nottestad looked again to make the move in turn one on lap 47, but pushed up letting Reynolds Jr. underneath to try take over second. Nottestad recovered momentarily to regain the spot, but Reynolds Jr. kept up the pursuit. Reynolds Jr. finally made the pass for second on lap 53.
Nolden opened up a three car length lead while the battle for second went on behind him. Once Reynolds Jr. cleared past Notttestad for second, he began to cut into Nolden’s lead. Lapped traffic was starting to be a factor, as Nolden seemed to catch them at the wrong times allowing Reynolds Jr. to get even closer.
Reynolds Jr. was on Nolden’s rear bumper with just ten laps remaining. Like with Nottestad before, Nolden seemed to get off the corners better so that he could maintain his lead. However as the laps were winding down, traffic was playing a bigger part in helping Reynolds Jr. stay close.
Both cars were making their way through the traffic and remained nose to tail. Reynolds Jr. was running out of laps and Nolden couldn’t wait to see the checkers.
Then with the white flag waving, the whole race turned. Nolden and Reynolds Jr. had to go right up the middle between the lapped cars of Shane Morrissey and Michael Ostdiek down the backstretch and into three. There Reynolds Jr. dove to the inside of Nolden and pushed up into him making contact through the corner. As they came off of the corner, Reynolds Jr. was ahead by just enough to beat Nolden to the checkers by a mere .122 seconds.
The lapped cars were definitely a factor in the outcome, but it was a difference in opinion as to how that came to be.
“I wouldn’t say the lapped cars helped me, but I just think the lapped cars killed the 67 (Nolden),” said Reynolds Jr. “He was just in a bad spot. He didn’t deserve that at all. He ran a great race but it gets to that corner you have to go for the win. It was just bad luck that he had to catch it like that.”
To say that Nolden was disappointed is an understatement. He never figured that the race could have been snatched away quite like that.
“Coming out of a corner when a guy pushes up like that that’s very disappointing. We’ve always raced people with respect. Never racing against the guy (Reynolds Jr.) I guess I should have known better but overall disappointing. The car we had was not good, but we’ve got to be thankful we’re in one piece I suppose.”
The traffic didn’t leave Nolden a lot of options.
“I didn’t really know what to do,” said Nolden. “I saw him get underneath me but I wasn’t even the least bit worried. Here at DRP we race each other with so much respect that I just didn’t see any of it from there, but I’ll remember that.”
Considering the nature of a last lap pass, Nolden was adamant that he would have raced differently if the situation was reversed.
“I guess I wouldn’t be happy with a win like that,” said Nolden. “But a win is a win and that goes down in the books as a feature win for him and we’ll just remember that next time we’re going for a win with him. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, what can you do? It’s racing and that stuff happens on a weekly basis. We just got to get the car ready for next week and go after feature win number four here.”
Reynolds Jr. had referenced Dale Earnhardt Sr. in asking rhetorically what he would have done, and in this case felt some of the same wrath from the fans in the process.
“I feel the same way as the fans were yelling at me up there and some were cheering,” said Reynolds Jr. “I don’t know…when it comes down to winning a race, the more it gets done.”
Reynolds conceded that the traffic didn’t do Nolden any favors.
“They were like that (side by side) for a whole lap,” said Reynolds Jr. “They would not get out of the way. They did not show him any respect at all. It wasn’t his fault, he got basically screwed by the lapped traffic as far as I’m concerned. They wouldn’t give him a good lane to race and it opened the door for us.”
1 10 Jon Reynolds Jr 68
2 67 Nick Nolden 68
3 51 Dale Nottestad 68
4 14 Austin Nason 68
5 19 Dan Lensing 68
6 28 Jesse Bernhagen 68
7 55 Rich Schumann Jr. 68
8 7 John DeAngelis Jr. 68
9 17 Gregg Pawelski 68
10 5 Casey Johnson 68
11 2 Tim Sargent 68
12 71 Morgan Schissel 68
13 50 Jacob Gille 68
14 52 Steve Dobbratz 68
15 82 J Herbst 68
16 5 Dave Edwards 68
17 18 Michael Ostdiek 67
18 2 Shane Poenhelt 67
19 21 Shane Morrisey 67
20 99 Jake Zellmer 67
21 6 Tyler Sauter 54
22 16 Luke Westenberg 47
23 95 Wayne Freimund 16
24 18 Mike Ehde 16
Driver X Scores Big 8 Salute To America 48 Win At MIS
Written By: Gregg Paul
Jon Reynolds Jr. started on the front row for the Salute To America Big 8 Series race at Madison International Speedway and led all 48 laps, but he spent all of those 48 laps fending off fending off either Dan Lensing or Dale Nottestad before finally seeing the checkers. Reynolds Jr. never had a comfortable lead until the final few laps as traffic and the relentless pursuit by Nottestad ate away the tires of the challenger.
Reynolds Jr. shared the front row with Kevin Kneuse with Reynolds Jr. getting the jump at the drop of the green flag. Lensing dropped in behind Driver X with Nottestad close behind. Kneuse was having trouble getting to the inside and the outside lane was lagging behind. Bobby Wilberg moved past Kneuse and into fourth by lap 3.
Nottestad got to the inside of Lensing looking to take the second spot on lap 6, but Lensing fought back on the outside going down the backstretch. Nottestad would clear for the spot coming off of turn four a lap later, bringing Wilberg with him into third.
Reynolds Jr. opened up a half straightaway lead over Nottestad while the battle for second was being waged. Nottestad began to close back in on Reynolds Jr. with Wilberg on his rear bumper.
The first yellow would come out on lap 8 for Chris Marek, who came to a stop in turn 2. Marek refired the car but would pull off and was done for the night.
When racing resumed, Reynolds Jr. jumped out to the lead once again with Nottestad and Wilberg following. Kevin Kneuse recovered from his earlier setback and took fourth from Lensing on lap 10. Just after the pass for fourth the yellow came out once again when Brady Liddle spun in turn three.
During this yellow Bobby Wilberg had some problem and pulled off the track and did not return.
Just after the green flag came out on the restart, the yellow would fly once again when Michael Clapper spun in turn 2.
Reynolds Jr. got another great restart and pulled away from Nottestad when the green flag flew. Tim Sargent had moved up several spots taking advantage of the cone and slid into third ahead of Lensing.
Billy Baumeister brought out the yellow on lap 14 when he spun in turn two right in front of traffic. Luckily everyone missed him, but Shane Morrissey came to a stop inches away from making contact.
The Big 8 Series allows the leader to have the front row alone on restarts, and Reynolds Jr. took full advantage of each restart. Reynolds Jr. got a great jump over Nottestad and was able to open up a few car lengths right away. Sargent and Lensing raced side by side for third before Sargent cleared on the inside of turn three on lap 15. A lap later Lensing returned the favor by getting inside of Sargent. That opened the door for Kneuse and Ryan Goldade to sneak past Sargent and into fourth and fifth respectively.
Meanwhile back up front, Reynolds Jr. and Nottestad pulled away from the third place battles. They put a half straightaway between themselves and Lensing, as Nottestad continued to shadow Reynolds Jr.’s rear bumper on lap 18.
Nottestad was able to get deeper into the corners when chasing down the leader, but Reynolds Jr. was getting off the corners much better and pulled away slightly each corner. While the duo continued to race hard for the lead, they put a little more distance back to third place Lensing.
Reynolds Jr. began to pull further away from Nottestad lap after lap, but only in small increments. Lapped traffic started to become an issue for the leader, but he managed to make it through without too much trouble. That is until lap 34 when Reynolds Jr. had a tougher time getting around Casey Strese, which let Nottestad cut into the lead, but Reynolds Jr. still was able to maintain a five car lengths lead over Nottestad.
Casey Johnson was making his presence noticed over the final laps as he battled with Kneuse for the fourth spot. Johnson closed in on Kneuse on lap 34, but it took until lap 40 and the car of Strese to finally take over the fourth spot. Johnson was able to use Strese as a pick to clear Kneuse to complete the pass.
Once Reynolds Jr. cleared the lapped traffic he was able to keep some distance ahead of Nottestad as the laps wound down. Reynolds Jr. was able to open up a ten car length lead with only seven laps to go and would cruise to the checkers to win the Salute To America 48.
For Reynolds Jr. the win was fairly comfortable, leading all 48 laps but never easy.
“It was fairly smooth, but we did start up front,” said Reynolds Jr. “The fast cars were there. That first caution just a couple of laps into the race the fast cars were there. We were fast too, but Nottestad was right there and Wilberg was there already so it wasn’t easy by any means.”
The fast cars may have been there, but Reynolds Jr. and Nottestad seemed to be the only real battle for the lead.
“It seemed that way, but you can’t…I never drove an easy lap with Nottestad behind me,” said Reynolds Jr. “He was really trying to push me and trying to make me make a mistake. He’s got so many laps here and so many laps here in Super Late races, and Super Late wins here. I just made sure I didn’t make any mistakes and just kept inching away from him.”
The race seemed to be won due to Reynolds Jr. getting off the corners so much better than Nottestad, who gained on corner entry every lap.
“I felt that where he was trying to get me to push into the corner farther,” said Reynolds Jr. “Trying to get me to make a mistake. I knew if I just got in soft I was beating him off the corner so that’s the name of the game here is to get off the corner.”
Nottestad knew the name of the game as well, and also knew his car just didn’t have enough to get the job done.
“We weren’t very good tonight,” said Nottestad. “He had a pretty good car. I don’t know, we just left it the same the last time we ran here and it just didn’t quite respond like it did the other night. We’ll take second I guess.”
Nottestad had trouble getting off the corners and that was the difference in the race.
“I could get in decent, but I just couldn’t get in through the center of the corner and then off,” said Nottestad. “I just had no bite at all. I don’t know what the deal is. Hopefully we can figure it out. I think if the yellow came out I would’ve finished fifth or sixth. I was hanging on at the end just trying to maintain and keep second.”
1. X Jon Reynolds, Jr.
2. 51 Dale Nottestad
3. 19Dan Lensing
4. 5 Casey Johnson
5. 14 Austin Nason
6. 33 Kevin Knuese
7. 2 Tim Sargent
8. 17 Gregg Pawelski
9. 39 Ryan Goldade
10. 28 Jesse Bernhagen
11. 37 Mike Meyerhofer
12. 52 Steve Dobbratz
13. 7 John DeAngelis Jr.
14. 21 Shane Morrissey
15. 12 Billy Baumeister
16. 82 J. Herbst
17. 50 Jacob Gille
18. 5 Dave Edwards
19. 23 Casey Strese
20. 18 Mike Ehde
21. 15 Michael Clapper
22. 18 Brady Liddle
23. 28 Bobby Wilberg
24. 3 Christopher Marek
CASEY JOHNSON OVERCOMES OBSTACLES TO WIN BIG 8 MAIN AT COLUMBUS 151
BY CHARLIE SPRY
Columbus, WI. (Monday, May 26, 2014). Casey Johnson fought through a
rain delay, power outage, and lapped traffic to emerge victorious in
the Big 8 series feature event on Memorial Day at the Columbus 151
After several aborted starts to the event, and with more threatening
weather on the way, the race got underway with an announced distance
of thirty-nine laps instead of the scheduled seventy-eight laps, as
rain was imminent. Columbus regular Brady Liddle showed the way over
Brent Edmunds, as the race settled in with Liddle continuing to lead
over Edmunds, but now Casey Johnson soon found his way up to the third
position, and with advancing storms apparent, a sense of urgency was
felt by all competitors and fans alike. Johnson felt this urgency,
working inside of Edmunds for the second spot, with Austin Nason
following. Lapped traffic began to get intense, with Johnson using
this traffic to grab the lead from Liddle with ten laps to go, with
Nason shadowing him as Liddle dropped to third. Nason worked hard to
find a way around Johnson, but lapped traffic worked in Johnson's
favor, as he was able to keep Nason at bay. One final caution came
about with four laps remaining, setting up the restart cone and a
chance for everyone to gain positions. Johnson pulled away to the win
over Nason, while Edmunds claimed third, Nick Nolden fourth, and Dale
Nottestad fifth. Almost immediately after the checkers, a steady rain
began to fall, proving the correct decision was made in regards to
shortening the scheduled distance.
The Great Northern Sportsman Series ran in conjunction with the Big 8
cars, with Minnesota drivers making a good showing. Michael Gilomen
took the initial lead, with Johnny Robinson and Devin Schmidt
following. A caution on lap eight brought the field together, with
Schmidt working inside of Robinson for the second position, while
Chris Weber also advanced. Robinson drifted back in the outside
groove, as another caution came about on lap thirteen for a Tim
Coley/Bill Prietzel shunt. Gilomen continued to lead at the green,
with Schmidt and now Steven Sauer challenging. Sauer fell back on the
outside, allowing Weber and Robinson back into the fray. Schmidt
worked inside of Gilomen for the lead on lap fifteen, as Weber took
over second. Dusty Mann began making some noise, as he moved up into
the battle, just as the caution flew once again. On the restart,
Schmidt showed the way over Weber, Gilomen and Mann, as Mann relieved
Gilomen of the third spot, then began working on Weber, as Schmidt
enjoyed the view in his mirror. From there Schmidt guided the field
to the checkers over Weber, Mann, Gilomen, and Sauer.
The four cylinder "Bandit Blast" began with Devon Dixon shooting into
the lead from his front row starting spot. Jay Orr grabbed second, as
Kyle Stark quickly worked on getting around him. Stark made the pass
for second on lap four, then began cutting into Dixon's lead. Dixon
moved well through lapped traffic, but Stark was on the move, getting
up to his rear bumper. The pair made contact while trying to
negotiate around lapped traffic, with Stark dropping from the event,
and Jay Orr immediately coming back onto the scene. Orr maintained
sight of Dixon, but could not catch him, as Devon Dixon drove away to
the win, followed by Orr, Dave Schmidt, Scott Schlafke, and Jeremy
The Columbus Backup cars also ran today, with a full field present.
Rick Barton took the lead at the start, with Matt Wahuta following, as
the pair attempted to pull away from the pack. Wachuta moved under
Barton for the lead on lap three, but then lost control, spinning into
the infield. Barton took the lead back, but then his mount began
smoking, and he also spun out, giving the lead to Andy Ward. From
there, Ward took control and drove to the win.
LOCAL FAVORITES SET TO DEFEND THEIR HOME TURF THIS WEEKEND AT SPRING CLASSIC!
By: Eric Huenefeld
When the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet rolls into Rockford Speedway this Sunday afternoon April 13 for the 37th Annual Spring Classic, the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” will be greeted by a strong local contingent looking to keep the winner’s trophy close to home.
Over the last several years, the local talent at Rockford Speedway has made things tough on the Big 8’s best. Thirteen of the twenty-one Big 8 Series events held at Rockford Speedway since September of 2004 have been won by Rockford regulars. Most recently, Rockford regulars have won the last four Big 8 races held at the high banked quarter mile.
“Driver X” Jon Reynolds Jr has been the man to beat when the Big 8 Series competes at Rockford Speedway. The 2005 Series champion has visited Big 8 Series victory lane five times at his hometrack. Reynolds himself has captured four of the last six National Short Track Championships as well as the 2012 Spring Classic.
2013 Rockford Speedway Track Champion Alex Papini plans to challenge for victory Sunday afternoon. Papini, who collected eight feature wins last summer en route to the Rockford track championship, is also the defending Spring Classic winner. Last April, Papini held off numerous challenges on the way to his first ever Big 8 series triumph.
Three former Rockford Speedway Track Champions also plan to run Spring Classic this weekend, including seven-time track champions Ricky Bilderback and Bobby Wilberg and 2010 track champion Tim Sargent. Bilderback, the 2006 Big 8 Series champion, won last year’s ‘Star Spangled 76’ at Rockford, charging from his 15th starting spot to claim the win. Wilberg, one of the most consistent drivers in Big 8 history and always a threat at Rockford, will go into Sunday still looking for his first ever series win. Sargent comes into Rockford riding the momentum of 2013, which included five Big 8 Series top-five’s and a pair of podium finishes.
Michael Bilderback, the 2008 Spring Classic champion, returns to Rockford this weekend. Bilderback aims to become only the second Big 8 driver to win multiple Spring Classics, joining Mike Beyer, who accomplished the feat in 2005 and 2006.
Teenager Austin Nason, the 2012 Rockford Speedway Rookie of the Year, is set to compete at Spring Classic. Nason was among the Big 8’s elite in 2013, finishing fourth in series points, with two runner-up finishes. Jake Gille, a multi-time feature winner at Rockford, is also entered for the weekend’s events, along with former Slinger Speedway champion “Insane” Wayne Freimund and Former Spring Classic NASCAR Touring Series competitor Mark Hartline
The 37th Annual Spring Classic is set for this Sunday afternoon, April 13 at 1 PM, with the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet headlining the day with a 108 lap main event. The season-opening card also includes the Mid American Stock Car Series and the Illinois Vintage Racing Series.
For more information on Rockford Speedway and the 37th Annual Spring Classic, please call 815-633-1500 or visit www.rockfordspeedway.com. For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit www.big8series.com.