There’s plenty of excitement surrounding the 2016 Big 8 Late Model Series season and its traditional opening race at Rockford Speedway. The 39th edition of ‘Spring Classic’ features a loaded field of former event winners, former series champions and area track champions, along with a slew of young up and coming talent!
Leading the list of entries are a couple of multi-time Big 8 Series champions, Jeremy Miller and Casey Johnson. Miller, a four-time Series champion, returns to Big 8 Series competition this season, gunning for an unprecedented fifth Big 8 Series title. Despite his long list of Late Model accomplishments, one win that has eluded Miller is Rockford’s Spring Classic. Back in 2007, Miller worked tirelessly to move past Mike Ehde, ultimately settling for a runner up finish. A more heartbreaking scenario developed in 2012, when Miller led the field by half a lap, until is car lost power just past the halfway point, opening the door for Jon Reynolds Jr to collect his first Spring Classic win.
Johnson has established himself as one of the top Big 8 Late Model racers over the last several years, winning two Big 8 Series championships while climbing to third on the all-time Series Wins List. A Spring Classic champion back in 2010, Johnson has turned in some thrilling runs at Rockford through the years, both in Big 8 and Super Late Model competition. Johnson could become just the second Big 8 driver to ever win multiple Spring Classic’s this Sunday, joining Mike Beyer, who won the first two in 2005 and 2006.
But there are more than just two drivers to watch this Sunday: Former Spring Classic winners Dale Nottestad (2011), Michael Bilderback (2008) and Jon Reynolds Jr (2012) are in the field. Nottestad, a multiple-time champion at both Madison International and Jefferson Speedways, is always a factor at Rockford while Bilderback is the defending Big 8 Series champion and won more than any other Big 8 Late Model driver last year, collecting 8 total Late Model victories in 2015. Reynolds won last year’s ‘Dixieland Delight’ at Wisconsin International Raceway and with the win became the all-time Big 9 late Model Series wins leader.
Reigning Rockford Speedway champion Jake Gille is gunning for his biggest victory ever Sunday at Spring Classic. Gille became one of the youngest Rockford Speedway champions ever last season, while turning in a season for the ages which saw him finish no worse than fourth in any Rockford feature race. Two-time LaCrosse Speedway Champion J Herbst had an impressive 2015 while running part-time, including three top five finishes. One of Herbst’s top five runs came at Rockford in September in the 108 lap National Short Track Championship. Two-time and reigning Dells Raceway champion Rich Schumann Jr will also run Rockford, looking to shake his past bad luck at the high banked quarter mile while former Slinger Speedway champion Wayne Freimund and 2012 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year Jesse Bernhagen are also set to contend for Spring Classic gold.
There will be plenty of new and young faces at this weekend’s Spring Classic, with no fewer than five drivers running for Loves Park Motorsports Rookie of the Year. Along with those rookies, watch for Minnesota teenager Michael Ostdiek and Wisconsin veteran Lyle Nowak. Ostdiek, a fourth place finisher in last year’s Big 8 Series point standings, finished 2015 as strong as anyone and is primed for a solid 2016. Ostdiek is also a member of the 2016 Kulwicki Driver Development Program. Nowak, the Wausau Wisconsin native who has nearly 40 years of stock car racing experience, will campaign full-time with the Big 8 Series this season. With 16 track championships to his credit and a Mid-American Stock Car Series title on his resume as well, Nowak will no doubt be one to watch all year long!
Spring Classic Expected Entries (36)
As of April 12
OO7– Jim Olson Harvard, IL
O3- Cody Kippenhan Ypslanti, MI
O1– Ryan Gutkneckt Oak Creek, WI
OO- Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
2- Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
3- Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
5- Casey Johnson Edgerton, WI
5- Jeremy Miller Rockton, IL
X– Jon Reynolds Jr Loves Park, IL
15- Michael Clapper Dane, WI
17- Grant Greisbach Waukesha, WI
18- Mike Ehde Prairie du Chien, WI
18- Michael Ostdiek Lakeville, MN
21- Mike Lloyd Davis, IL
21– Ty Reedy Holmen, WI
22- Kyle Chwala Johnson Creek, WI
28- Jesse Bernhagen Markesan, WI
32- Lyle Nowak Wausau, WI
33- Dana Czach West Chicago, IL
36- Kyle Shear Roscoe, IL
40- Michael Beamish Eagan, MN
44- Mitch Garfield Pingree Grove, IL
49– Tory Adams Madison, WI
49- Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
50- Jake Gille Winnebago, IL
51- Dale Nottestad Cambridge, WI
53- Jared Duda St Michael, MN
54- Rich Schumann Jr Portage, WI
58- Tyler Kingery Elko New Market, MN
66- Adam Peschek Oconomowoc, WI
71– Mark Greb Coralville, IA
82- J Herbst West Salem, WI
88– Ken Jacoby Marshall, WI
95- Wayne Freimund Elkhorn, WI
96- Denny Norton Jr Wonder Lake, IL
99- Jake Zellmer Waterford, WI
-Rockford Speedway Press Release