Bilderback Blows Out Spring Classic Field at Rockford by Kevin Ramsell, Big 8 Series PR
Big 8 Season is Off and Rolling
16-year-old Michael Bilderback looked like a season veteran has he would go wire-to-wire and capture his second Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet feature win at the 31st Annual Spring Classic presented by Yellowbook at the Rockford Speedway. Matt Byrne would come home second with defending Big 8 Series Champion, Jeremy Miller in third.
"Wow, I can't thank my crew enough," an exhausted Bilderback stated in victory lane. Bilderback was in Toledo, OH, the day before for a race event that was rained out. "We got home around midnight and got ready to race here today."
Bilderback started on the pole for the 100-lap feature event. He would jump out to the lead over outside front row starter, Ed Szelagowski, Jr.
"I was afraid to start on the bottom, we hung in there and got it out front and never looked behind," Bilderback stated.
Bilderback didn't look behind as he built a straightaway lead over Szelagowski by lap 15.
Byrne, who started third, made his way to second by lap 24 as he worked his way past Szelagowski on the inside line.
Bilderback would continue to have a comfortable lead at the halfway mark.
Three laps later, Lyle Messinger would bring out the second of three cautions as he made hard contact with the tire protecting the point between the pit entrance and turn three. Messinger was able to walk away.
The starting field for the Spring Classic at Rockford. (Mark Melchiori Photos)
Bilderback in victory lane.
Bilderback would continue to lead with a healthy margin between him and Byrne.
Byrne would finally get past all of the lap traffic and have his sights clearly set on Bilderback with 23 laps to go. Bilderback would see his lead diminish with 10 laps to go as he encountered heavy lap traffic.
"Before I saw the lap traffic, I didn't think I had a chance," Byrne stated after the race. "Once I did, I pushed it pretty hard, almost spinning out to try to catch him."
At the checkers it was Bilderback with the win by a car length over Byrne.
Miller was satisfied with his third place finish.
"I just burned too much stuff up trying to get up there," Miller stated. "Lap traffic was tough today; everybody did a nice job getting out of the way. I will take third today."
Matt Berger would come home fourth after starting seventh while Bobby Wilberg rounded out the top five.
Wilberg set the fast time with a new Big 8 Series track record time of 13.706 seconds. Ryan Carlson and Ross Kenseth tied for second fastest with a lap time of 13.784 seconds.
Kenseth, making his first Big 8 Series start at Rockford, lasted only a lap in the main event has he was sidelined due with mechanical issues on the second lap. It appeared that he had a fluid leak coming from the rear end of his Ford Fusion.
Earlier in the day, Adam Degenhardt and Ryan Miles would win the qualifying heats while Bilderback and Byrne won the odd/even fast heats. Curt Thompson would win the last chance race.
The "Weekly Warriors" of the Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet will meet up once again on Sunday, May 4th at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, WI.
Michael Bilderback (2) goes by Curt Thompson (66) en route to his second Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet win at Rockford Speedway's Spring Classic.