Ross Kenseth did it again tonight, collecting his third career BRP Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet feature win in the Joe Shear Classic 38. The 15-year-old Kenseth rallied from a sluggish start using a little bit of luck to best a field of 51 Big 8 Series late models at Madison International Speedway and in the process, bringing the packed house to their feet in approval.
Kenseth, the 2008 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year, and fellow young gun Michael Bilderback led the field to green in one of two tribute events to the late Midwest short track legend, Joe Shear. Bilderback would jump out to the early lead in the 38-lap Big 8 Series main event as Kenseth faded from his second place starting spot back to fourth by lap three.
Brooklyn, Wi. native and Madison International Speedway regular Zach Riddle took the lead away from Michael Bilderback on lap 11 diving down low into turn one and making it stick to claim the top spot.
Fast qualifier Bobby Wilberg, pulling double duty on the evening, was the first victim on Kenseth’s charge back to the front, falling to fifth after Kenseth passed him on lap 14 and brought Scott Broughton with him into fourth. On lap 16, Kenseth got underneath Bilderback exiting turn two and took away second.
Up front, Riddle was pulling away from the field building a 20 car length lead by the time the first caution came out on lap 23 when Casey Johnson blew a motor entering turn one and knocked down the wall. Tim Sargent spun out on the frontstretch to avoid the accident. Riddle almost spun as well when he hit Johnson’s oil trail but managed to hold on.
Riddle's trouble wasn’t over though as he was forced to stop in the middle of turns one and two because his radio had come unplugged. Consequently, Riddle’s spotter was unable to prevent him from hitting a garbage barrel causing Riddle to smash the nose of his 2009 Ford Fusion in and dragging debris around the track. Riddle was forced to retire to the pits shortly after track workers removed the barrel from underneath his front valance and Kenseth took advantage of the leader's misfortune to inherit the top spot.
Kenseth would quickly jump out to a five car length lead on the restart but Scott Broughton closed the gap and started working the inside of Kenseth’s Blain’s Farm & Fleet 2009 Ford Fusion on lap 27. Broughton wasn’t able to complete the pass on Kenseth before the second caution of the race flew on lap 32 when Ed Szegalowski Jr. spun around in turn two.
The field would bunch up for another restart and this time Broughton would stay right on Kenseth’s back bumper when the green flag waved. It wouldn’t matter though as Kenseth pulled away from the field en route to the checkered flag winning by a solid eight car lengths over Broughton.
Rounding out the top five were two-time defending BRP Big 8 Series champion Jeremy Miller, Michael Bilderback and his uncle, 2006 Big 8 Series champion Ricky Bilderback.
Kyle Shear, driving the #36 tribute car in honor of Joe Shear, finished 12th.
Beloit’s Bobby Wilberg took home fast time in qualifying with a lap of 18.841 seconds.
Skylar Holzhausen and Brady Liddle brought home the wins in the last chance races.
The BRP Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet will be in action again on Tuesday, June 30th as they return to Madison International Speedway as part of The Swiss Colony All-Star Challenge event.
For more information on the Big 8 Series, please visit their website at www.big8series.com.