STREMME BECOMES ROOKIE CHAMPION AT ROCKFORD by John Clark
Wilberg Takes The Season Finale Win
It’s not too often that two champions are crowned in a race, but that is what happened in the final ASA Late Model Series event of the season as Bobby Stremme was officially named the inaugural series champion and Bobby Wilberg the last race winner of the year. The 100-green flag event was held as part of the 39th Annual NAPA National Short Track Championships at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway.
-second margin of victory, about the length of the entire backstretch, the battle for second through fifth was unbelievable. Through most of the race, the four-time Rockford Speedway track champion Ricky Bilderback held the spot, though he came under heavy pressure from Lensing with five laps remaining in the event. Lensing got into Bilderback’s rear bumper, and as he slowed to allow Bilderback regain control of his Pontiac, several cars grouped in a pack.
As the drivers shuffled positions, when the checkers flew it was Bilderback in second, followed by Ron Breese Jr., Bobby Stremme and Scott Baker making up the Top-5. The rest of the Top-10 was Mike Satkowiak, Lensing, Lanson Cassill, Jerry Freeman, and Ryan Tedesco.
Stremme’s fourth place finish helped him capture the inaugural ASA Late Model Series championship. A huge smile was on his face as he climbed from the No. 53 Meijer Chevrolet to the cheers of the crowd.
In addition to the championship, Stremme was also the
Wilberg started the ASA Rockford 100 from the second position, and quickly took the lead when polesitter Dan Lensing got his Chevrolet sideways off Turn 4 coming to the start and by the time he collected his vehicle had slipped to third. From that point on, Wilberg had the entire field in his rear view mirror as he led all 100-green flag laps on the tricky quarter-mile track.
“This is a good run for us,” Wilberg told the crowd as he climbed from his No. 28 First Supply Chevrolet. “Early in the race we had a lot of cautions on this tight racetrack. You don’t have a lot of room out there when you start that many cars (29 cars started the race), but I knew we could pretty much run away from them. We had a pretty good car.
“I got more laps on this track than pretty much anyone except maybe Joe Shear and I’ll be (expletive) if I’m going to come back and lose. It’s my racetrack and they got to beat me,” he added defiantly. Wilberg picked up a $1000 bonus as he won his Saturday qualifying race in addition to the feature event.
Though Wilberg ended up cruising to an unbelievable 5.660
Bobby Stremme won the first ASA Late Model Series Championship with a solid finish at Rockford. (Milner Photos)
Bobby Wilberg won the race.
ASA Late Model Series Rookie of the Year, and was easily one of the most reliable cars on the tour. In addition to his three wins, he had three poles, nine Top-5 and 12 Top-10 finishes.
“Consistency,” was the word Stremme used to describe how he captured the championship. “We had one time we did not have a Top-10 finish and only three that weren’t Top-5s. We didn’t tear up nothing all year and were just trying to stay consistent. Excellent work at the shop helps at the track.
Bruder said of the championship. “It probably will later. Bobby is just an outstanding driver. When David (Stremme, the other co-owner) and I got together and decided to do this it is just a dream come true.”
The ASA Late Model Series had a most competitive inaugural season over the 13 races contested. Stremme and Tedesco each won three events, and seven other drivers won during the year, including the 2003 NASCAR Cup champion Matt Kenseth. Nine drivers captured a pole position during the course of the season, and more than 85 drivers scored points in the series.
Unofficially, the top five in the drivers points are Stremme, Baker, Lensing, Doug True and Jack Smith.
While the ASA Late Model Series season has come to an end, the ASA National Tour still has two events remaining on their schedule. Those teams will be in action next at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday, Oct. 14 in the Aaron’s 99, followed by the season-finale on Oct. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“I’d like to thank everyone that helped me. Rick Bruder, my brother David Stremme, mom and dad, Crystal, Jim Brown, Kevin Carpenter, Tony Tucker, my other family, everybody at the shop and to all my fans out there – thank you,” he added gesturing to the crowd that lined the catch fence.
“Championships are important, but the one thing I was happy for was winning Rookie of the Year,” Stremme claimed. “That’s my first one so now every one of us in the family has one.” Stremme’s older brother David was the ASA National Tour Rookie of the Year in 2002.
“I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,” team co-owner Rick
Jason Setser (#59) was in the hunt before these problems while Ron Breese Jr. (#135) cruised to a third-place finish.