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

Big 8 Late Models Boast Big Entry List for Rockford