By: Eric Huenefeld
This Saturday, for the tenth consecutive year, the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” will take part in “One Great Racing Weekend.”
The Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet will bring their exciting brand of Late Model racing to Rockford Speedway this Saturday September 28th, competing in the 48th Annual National Short Track Championships (NSTC).
The old adage states “experience is key.” With that in mind, those drivers with laps and experience on Rockford’s tricky ‘high banks’ will not only be favorites this weekend but also have seen the most success in Big 8 Series trips to Rockford recently.
Former Big 8 Series champion “Driver X” Jon Reynolds Jr has been ‘Mr. September’ at Rockford Speedway the past six years. Since 2008, Reynolds has captured three of the five 108 lap NSTC features contested on the tight quarter mile. A four-time feature winner at Rockford this year, Reynolds will undoubtedly be a heavy favorite to return to victory lane this weekend. 2013 Rockford Speedway Track Champion Alex Papini will be another driver the field will be keeping their eyes on. Papini, winner of the most recent Series stop at Rockford back in April, picked off eight feature wins at Rockford Speedway this season en route to his first ever Late Model track championship.
Other ‘hometown favorites’ looking to bag the ‘big bucks’ at NSTC this weekend will be three-time Track Champion Jerry Gille, 2010 Rockford Speedway champion Tim Sargent and 2012 Rockford Speedway Rookie of the Year Austin Nason. Sargent and Nason come into the event sixth and fifth in Big 8 Series points respectively, with both not only looking for their first NSTC win, but their first Big 8 Series win.
The battle for the Big 8 Series Championship rolls into Rockford as well Saturday night, with Edgerton Wisconsin’s Casey Johnson leading Cambridge Wisconsin’s Dale Nottestad by 40 points headed into NSTC. Both drivers have experienced success at Rockford in the past, as Johnson and Nottestad have both won the season opening Spring Classic at Rockford. Last weekend, Johnson finished second in the series’ first-ever stop in Minnesota at Elko Speedway. Nottestad came through the field at Elko after an early incident to finish seventh.
“Rocketman” Dan Lensing sits third in Big 8 Series points, thanks to consistent runs throughout the year. Last week at Elko however, Lensing experienced a bump in the road. Mechanical problems would force Lensing out at Elko just past halfway following a furious charge to the front. Lensing still has an outside shot at the Big 8 Series Championship, and a win at Rockford Speedway would most certainly help that cause.
Big 8 Series ‘young guns’ Jesse Bernhagen and John DeAngelis Jr. are also looking for their breakthrough first ever Series win at Rockford. Both Bernhagen and DeAngelis pocketed top five finishes at Elko last weekend, as Bernhagen captured fifth and DeAngelis bagged third.
Pit Gates open at 7 AM Saturday morning at Rockford Speedway, with practice beginning at 10:30 AM. Quartermaster Time Trials for the Big 8 Late Model Series will begin at 2:15 PM, with all competitors gunning for the coveted ‘Nason’s Landscaping Faster Than a Speeding Bullet Award.’ Racing is set to begin at 5:05 PM, featuring Big 8 Series preliminaries and the 108 lap feature event. Also competing on the busy Saturday night schedule will be the Great Northern Sportsman Series, Illini Midgets, Hobby Stox and Illinois Vintage Racers. Super Late Models will be in action Saturday night too, running preliminaries in preparation for their 200 lap main event to be run on Sunday afternoon.
For more information on Rockford Speedway and the National Short Track Championships, please visit www.rockfordspeedway.com or phone 815-633-1500. For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit www.big8series.com.
Big 8 Late Model Series
National Short Track Championships
Probable Entry List
2 Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL
5 Casey Johnson Edgerton, WI
5 Dave Edwards Salem, WI
7 John DeAngelis Jr Hubertus, WI
8 Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
8 Rich Hinerichsen Machesney Park, IL
9 Braison Bennett Neenah, WI
X Jon Reynolds Jr. Rockford, IL
14 Austin Nason Roscoe, IL
17 Eric Connell Fort Atkinson, WI
19 Dan Lensing Roscoe, IL
23 Casey Strese Johnson Creek, WI
28 Jesse Bernhagen Stevens Point, WI
28 Jake Finney Sycamore, IL
28 Bobby Wilberg Beloit, WI
32 Andy Welter Cedarburg, WI
39 Dan Church Williams Bay, WI
39 Alex Papini Machesney Park, IL
40 Tom Gille Winnebago, IL
44 Mitch Garfield Gilberts, IL
46 Ryan Miles Crystal Lake, IL
49 Tory Adams Madison, WI
50 Jake Gille Machesney Park, IL
51 Dale Nottestad Cambridge, WI
52 Steve Dobbratz Rio, WI
52 Steven Erickson Machesney Park, IL
54 Rich Schumann Jr. Portage, WI
66 Adam Peschek Oconomowoc, WI
75 Mike Beyer Machesney Park, IL
82 J Herbst West Salem, WI
87 Jay Foster DeKalb, IL
89 Ryan Ferrell East Troy, WI
99 Jerry Gille Roscoe, IL
This article was posted to the website on September 25th, 2013
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