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By Steve Reeves – Since the “modern-era” of racing at Rockford Speedway, celebrating it’s 70th racing season, the list of drivers that moved directly from the Kickstart Roadrunners to Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models victory lane is very short. Thru the years, more and more divisions have been added as stepping stones at the high-banked 1/4-mile; such as Bargain Hunter Sportsman or Miller Lite American Short Trackers. Along the way, other Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model winners have entered the headline class from diverse avenues of automotive competition options, even outside of those found at the weekly NASCAR Home Track. The first Kickstart Roadrunner champion was crowned in 1967; and Dennis Smith, Jr added his name to that illustrious list in 2015.

With the competition rule in place that the Kickstart Roadrunner point winner is “ineligible to race in the entry-level division the following year”; Smith put motions in place to make the move up the V-8 ranks all the way to the Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models. A task deemed arduous by most, and with challenges along the way, Smith’s direction of travel was not without some darker sides. Involvement in an accident during the Big 8 series Spring Classic this April, resulted in a damaging fire to his car. While rebuilding that vehicle, Smith was able to continue to his Rookie bid; thanks to his own sacrifices, those by his family and supporters, as well as an olive branch from Shear Racing. Staying behind the wheel from the start of the season and eventually returning to his own racer, Smith continued turning laps, and heads, almost every race. In Saturday August 19th’s K&N Filters presented ‘Summers Last Stand’, every effort came to fruition and Smith took the checkered flags in the track’s prime class.

A solid hosts of challengers weighed in to contend for the Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model top-prize. An early accident in turn three collected division point-leader and many time feature winner Michael Bilderback, William Olson, and last week’s class top-placer Mitchell Garfield. Steve Vaughn, a two-time winner in the Bargain Hunter Sportsman, paced through-out and until Smith used the low groove to capture the lead. Smith held off repeated challenges from Jon Reynolds, Jr and Matt Berger – both Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model winners and the two closest in the points rankings to Bilderback’s championship chase. The efforts to shake Smith’s grasp of the lead was to no avail, but not without burst of excitement. Reynolds “X” car went sideways thru turn three no less than one time, but he ran clean laps under Smith posting a fierce bid. Facing lapped traffic, Smith never faltered and held-on for the biggest victory of his career. Reynolds, Jr ran bridesmaid and Berger scored a solid second runner-up. Max Kahler and Jerry Gille completed the top five.


The open-wheel midget cars of the Illini Racing Series kicked off the main-event card on the summer evening. Ryan Finley paced the traveling club’s field from the pole, but three-wide extreme action ensued at the drop of the green. Having won both the previous 2017 visits, and taking quick time in time trails of the night, Ryan Probst made the dicey move from inside the second row to lead lap one. Taylor Fenske held onto second running, from the outside front-row starting spot. Coming from the tail of the smaller car field, Jordan Caskey battled his way around Fenske and set his sights on Probst. Caskey saw the light and reeled in the first place combat. The last half of the contest saw Caskey looking high and low, for a sliver of the lead. Working their way around lapped traffic towards the sound of the final bell, Caskey heroically crescented around the outside of the third and fourth turns of the high-banked 1/4-mile oval, to land the top spot with four laps to go. Probe maintained second without question and Fenske held on for third.

Aaron Rude battled with two-time division champion Nick Cina; and claimed the Miller Lite American Short Trackers feature honors, as the moon light of the nice evening broke through the NASCAR pit area post race. Rude and Cina had spaced out from the rest of the field for most of the race, with Rude’s Pinto peeking under Cina’s Mustang. Through the totality of the event, there was a fierce slug-out for the third position. Officially, Franc Beldowsk was declared second, Shannon Stoltz third, point leader Zach Rodriguez taking fourth and long-time track veteran Billy McCoy completed the top five. Rude and McCoy scored heat wins, with the latter’s victory coming in his very first race of the season – his 42nd consecutive year of competing in racing events at Rockford Speedway!

Early bursts of the yellow flag in the NASCAR Kickstart Roadrunners final, saw last year’s Sam’s Drive-In champion Jeff Allendorf taking a trip to the hospital. When the haze of the opening lap events settled, Pat Ligue led the field of V-8 challengers. A fierce tussle kept the fans on the edge of their seats, as every competitor fought their slightly modified stock car to the edge of traction, side-by-side and sliding thru the tight corners at times. Chad Lounsbury shined thru the battle and drove under Ligue to lead after the half-way point, but it was championship leader Josh Thiering passing cars on the lowest lane of the pavement. Thiering was the official victor and increased his tight hold on the #1 season ranking. Rich Schinderling, Jr moved to the second position, in both the feature and point standings. Adam Cartwright, Kevin Memoli, and Austin Fowler filled the top five.
Terry Ciano, Jr. moved up from ninth on the Hornet Swarm “Grand-Prix racing-style” standing-start grid, to be the announced winner of the night-cap. Braden Bloomberg, division championship leader Erik Pearson, and Ciano found their way atop the roster of stock 4-cylinder races in the early laps. Ciano moved under Pearson late in the action packed event to ultimately be scored as the winner. Pearson was named second finisher with Shannon Helmer trailing, both in the race and the season rankings.
Tomorrow, it’s time to ‘bring on the boats’ as Windsor Auto Sales presents ‘Nicks Beatin & Bangin Boat Race!’ Boats without trailers; towed by cars, trucks and vans, will compete on the “man-made” watered down ring ’til the last boat sails’. All bets are off and the robust challengers will all be looking to claim a knock-out win! Tickets are still available online (rockfordspeedway.com), by phone (815-633-1500) or in person at the Rockford Speedway Main Office during regular business hours. The Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models return with bright enthusiasm and an expected car count nearing or out-distancing season high levels. Bargain Hunter Sportsman, Kickstart Roadrunners and American Super Cups are also on the fight card of the Windsor Auto Sales Night. Grandstands open at 5 PM, with racing set to begin at 7:07 PM. Look for the boat race to cap the intense action of the night before 10 PM. Fans are always encouraged to visit the drivers and crews in the pit area post-race and are welcome in the track pavilion for “bench racing”. You will want to “Be There”; at Rockford Speedway this Saturday for intense edge-of-your comfortable seat, local entertainment option!


Sat Aug 26 7:07 pm- Nicks Beatin & Bangin Boat Race presented by Windsor Auto Sales LM, Sp, RR, American Super Cups
Sat Sep 2 7:07 pm- Prelude to the Championship LM, Sp, AST, & RR
Sat Sep 9 7:07 pm- Whelen Engineering Night of Champions LM, Sp, AST, RR plus the ‘Outhouse Race’
Sat Sept 16 7:07 pm- Miller Lite Night of Thrills featuring Monster Trucks, the Green Mamba Jet Car, School Bus Racing, Hornet Double Features and MORE!

NASCAR Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models
A-Main — 1. Dennis Smith, Jr (r), South Beloit; 2. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Loves Park; 3. Matt Berger, Loves Park; 4. Max Kahler (r), Caledonia; 5. Jerry Gille, Roscoe; 6. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis; 7. Steve Vaughn, Maple Park; 8. Shawn Ogden, South Beloit; 9. Jeff Wakeman, Streator; 10. Tyler Hromadka, Brookfield, Wis; 11. Michael Bilderback, South Beloit; 12. William Olson, Wonder Lake; 13. Mitchell Garfield, Pingree Grove.

Heat 01 — 1. Steve Vaughn, Maple Park; 2. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis; 3. Dennis Smith, Jr (r), South Beloit; 4. Jeff Wakeman, Streator; 5. William Olson, Wonder Lake; 6. Shawn Ogden, South Beloit; 7. Tyler Hromadka,

Heat 02 — 1. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Loves Park; 2. Matt Berger, Loves Park; 3. Michael Bilderback, South Beloit; 4. Jerry Gille, Roscoe; 5. Max Kahler (r), Caledonia.

Time Trial — 1. Michael Bilderback, South Beloit; 2. Mitchell Garfield, Pingree Grove; 3. Matt Berger, Loves Park; 4. Max Kahler (r), Caledonia; 5. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Loves Park; 6. Jerry Gille, Roscoe; 7. Dennis Smith, Jr (r), South Beloit; 8. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis; 9. Steve Vaughn, Maple Park; 10. William Olson, Wonder Lake; 11. Shawn Ogden, South Beloit; 12. Jeff Wakeman, Streator; 13. Tyler Hromadka, Brookfield, Wis.

Co-Lin Metals Fabricating Fast Dash — 1. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Loves Park; 2. Michael Bilderback, South Beloit; 3. Jerry Gille, Roscoe; 4. Mitchell Garfield, Pingree Grove; 5. Max Kahler (r), Caledonia; 6. Matt Berger, Loves Park.

Illini Racing Series

A-Main — 1. Jordan Caskey, West Chicago; 2. Ryan Probst, New Lenox; 3. Taylor Fenske;; 4. Kourtnay Borman, Rockford, ; 5. Doug Orseske, Frankfort; 6. Ryan Finley, Shabbona; 7. Christopher Adrien, Joliet.

Heat 01 — 1. Jordan Caskey, West Chicago; 2. Kourtnay Borman, Rockford, ; 3. Ryan Finley, Shabbona; 4. Taylor Fenske;; 5. Christopher Adrien, Joliet; 6. Doug Orseske, Frankfort; 7. Ryan Probst, New Lenox.

Time Trial — 1. Ryan Probst, New Lenox; 2. Jordan Caskey, West Chicago; 3. Ryan Finley, Shabbona; 4. Doug Orseske, Frankfort; 5. Kourtnay Borman, Rockford, ; 6. Christopher Adrien, Joliet; 7. Taylor Fenske;.

NASCAR Miller Lite American Short Trackers

A-Main — 1. Aaron Rude, Cambridge, Wis; 2. Franc Beldowski, Rockford; 3. Shannon Stoltz (r), Machesney Park; 4. Zach Rodriguez, Rockton; 5. Billy McCoy, Belvidere; 6. Todd Snow, Rockford; 7. Melody Boyle (r), Kirkland; 8. David Russell, Jr, Rockford; 9. Dave LaPier, Rockford; 10. Perry Anderson, Machesney Park; 11. Destiny Genore, Beloit, Wis; 12. Austin Cina, Belvidere; 13. Nick Cina, Jr, Belvidere.

Heat 01 — 1. Billy McCoy, Belvidere; 2. David Russell, Jr, Rockford; 3. Todd Snow, Rockford; 4. Dave LaPier, Rockford; 5. Destiny Genore, Beloit, Wis; 6. Perry Anderson, Machesney Park; 7. Austin Cina, Belvidere.

Heat 02 — 1. Aaron Rude, Cambridge, Wis; 2. Zach Rodriguez, Rockton; 3. Franc Beldowski, Rockford; 4. Shannon Stoltz (r), Machesney Park; 5. Melody Boyle (r), Kirkland; 6. Nick Cina, Jr, Belvidere.

Time Trial — 1. Zach Rodriguez, Rockton; 2. Franc Beldowski, Rockford; 3. Aaron Rude, Cambridge, Wis; 4. Melody Boyle (r), Kirkland; 5. Shannon Stoltz (r), Machesney Park; 6. David Russell, Jr, Rockford; 7. Todd Snow, Rockford; 8. Dave LaPier, Rockford; 9. Billy McCoy, Belvidere; 10. Perry Anderson, Machesney Park; 11. Destiny Genore, Beloit, Wis; 12. Austin Cina, Belvidere; 13. Nick Cina, Jr, Belvidere.

Co-Lin Metals Fabricating Fast Dash — 1. Shannon Stoltz (r), Machesney Park; 2. Zach Rodriguez, Rockton; 3. Franc Beldowski, Rockford; 4. Aaron Rude, Cambridge, Wis; 5. Melody Boyle (r), Kirkland; 6. Nick Cina, Jr, Belvidere.

NASCAR Kickstart Roadrunners

A-Main — 1. Josh Thiering, South Beloit; 2. Rich Schinderling, Jr, Winnebago; 3. Adam Cartwright, Roscoe; 4. Kevin Memoli, Geneva; 5. Austin Fowler, Loves Park; 6. Pat Ligue, Chicago; 7. Jeff Allendorf, Belvidere; 8. Terry Gerber, Loves Park; 9. Curt Nighswonger, Machesney Park; 10. Steven Dover, Machesney Park; 11. Chad Lounsbury, Beloit, Wis.

Heat 01 — 1. Kevin Memoli, Geneva; 2. Jeff Allendorf, Belvidere; 3. Pat Ligue, Chicago; 4. Terry Gerber, Loves Park; 5. Curt Nighswonger, Machesney Park; 6. Steven Dover, Machesney Park.

Heat 02 — 1. Rich Schinderling, Jr, Winnebago; 2. Josh Thiering, South Beloit; 3. Chad Lounsbury, Beloit, Wis; 4. Austin Fowler, Loves Park; 5. Adam Cartwright, Roscoe.

Co-Lin Metals Fabricating Fast Dash — 1. Josh Thiering, South Beloit; 2. Chad Lounsbury, Beloit, Wis; 3. Kevin Memoli, Geneva; 4. Rich Schinderling, Jr, Winnebago; 5. Adam Cartwright, Roscoe; 6. Terry Gerber, Loves Park.


A-Main — 1. Terry Ciano, Jr., Janesville, Wis; 2. Erik Pearson, Beloit, Wis; 3. Shannon Helmer, Janesville, Wis; 4. Ben Rucker, Beloit, Wis; 5. Ross Lamont, Cherry Valley; 6. Sean Worman, Roscoe; 7. Steve Putman, Jr., Beloit, Wis; 8. Brock Baumbach, Williams Bay, Wis; 9. Cole Damon, Machesney Park; 10. Zach Cichon, Poplar Grove; 11. Mike Kinney, Roscoe; 12. Tyler Huber, Machesney Park; 13. Amanda Whalen, Genoa; 14. Jacob Putman, Lancaster, Wis; 15. Braden Bloomberg, Hampshire.

Heat 01 — 1. Ross Lamont, Cherry Valley; 2. Mike Kinney, Roscoe; 3. Amanda Whalen, Genoa; 4. Steve Putman, Jr., Beloit, Wis; 5. Brock Baumbach, Williams Bay, Wis; 6. Zach Cichon, Poplar Grove; 7. Jacob Putman,

Heat 02 — 1. Erik Pearson, Beloit, Wis; 2. Braden Bloomberg, Hampshire; 3. Terry Ciano, Jr., Janesville, Wis; 4. Ben Rucker, Beloit, Wis; 5. Shannon Helmer, Janesville, Wis; 6. Sean Worman, Roscoe; 7. Tyler Huber, Machesney Park; 8. Cole Damon, Machesney Park.

About Rockford Speedway

Since the inaugural season in 1948, the high-banked quarter mile oval has been tabbed as “Mid-America’s Finest Racetrack.” Rich in racing tradition, this reputation has been well earned through hosting major events like the granddaddy of all short track post season events, the National Short Track Championships. More

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