By: Kip Ripley
Great weather and an enthusiastic crowd witnessed another exciting Saturday night of racing at Rockford Speedway as part of Northwest Bank Kids Night.
When the dust cleared, Alex Papini (Late Models) and Aaron Rude (American Short Trackers) found victory lane once again while Robby Robinson (Roadrunners) and Bart Brockmann (Bandits) nabbed their first feature wins of 2018.
In the 30 lap Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model feature, Matt Lundberg was the car who was the most impressive in the race and crossed the finish line first, taking the lead on lap 14 and holding off the late race advances of Papini to apparently take the win. However, during post-race technical inspection, Lundberg’s car was deemed to have oversize wheels and was disqualified from the race. The ruling moved Papini to the top of the chart, as the Rockford resident notched a third feature win in four tries during the 2018 season, Michael Bilderback came from 10th starting spot to claim second, while ‘Driver X’ Jon Reynolds Jr was credited with third. Through four nights of racing, Reynolds and Papini are tied atop the Late Model point standings.
Veteran racer Mike Lloyd persevered to a fourth place finish and was followed by Dennis Smith Jr who rounded out the top five.
Cambridge Wisconsin’s Aaron Rude made a slick move to the front of the field on the ninth lap of the Miller Lite American Short Tracker feature, holding the lead for the rest of the 25 lap main event while holding off a furious late-race charge from point leader Franc Beldowski. After Rude nabbed the lead, Beldowksi wrestled side-by-side with Shannon Stoltz over the next six laps before settling into second spot and beginning his pursuit of Rude for the lead. Over the course of the next 8 laps, Beldowski chased down Rude and made two attempts at the lead before falling short at the checkered flag.
Rude claimed his second win of the season, while Beldowski settled for second, coming up just one position short of a ‘clean sweep’ after earning fast time, a trophy dash win and a heat race win. Stotlz finished third, while David Russell earned fourth.
Robby Robinson cruised to the lead on the sixth lap of the 20 lap Kickstart Roadrunner feature and held on for his first win of 2018 while outrunning Roadrunner point leader Nick Schneider to do so. Kevin Memoli was credited with third place, followed by Brent Garnhardt and Terry Gerber.
The 20 lap T.E,D. Transit Bandit feature showcased a three-car battle for the lead in a non-stop affair which ended with Rockford’s Bart Brockmann in victory lane after squeaking past Kelsey Dobbs at the line to claim the victory. Brockmann earned his first career Rockford Speedway win by half a car-length over Dobbs after the two drivers traded the lead multiple times throughout the race. Benji Rucker came home third, with Haley Roberts fourth and Ashley Matts fifth.