It only took Michael Bilderback three laps to take the lead from his third-place starting spot during the 40th Annual Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway (IL) on Sunday. From there it was smooth sailing, as he led the remaining 85 laps to claim his second Spring Classic victory in a row.
Jon Reynolds Jr. started on the pole after winning the Fast Dash, but mechanical problems hindered him from the start of the race. Reynolds Jr. would finish 25th unofficially out of the 26 Big 8 Late Models that fired their engines.
Just six laps in, the first caution of the day flew when the tower received multiple reports of Ryan Kamish’s car leaking fuel. Kamish was then sent to the pits, and the race resumed.
The next yellow flag came out just two laps after the restart, when Mike Lloyd spun from second place coming out of turn four. The rest of the field would narrowly avoid Lloyd, and the race was restarted for the third time.
As halfway approached, the intensity of the drivers picked up, and several cars became involved in an incident with 50 to go, which included a lot of fire, and smoke from both the cars and drivers. Tyler Kingery, John Beinlich, Dennis Smith Jr, Michael Clapper, and Kyle Chwala were all involved. Chwala would be the only car able to continue on, he would rebound to finish sixth. Kyle Shear’s car also caught on fire under the red flag, but he was able to continue on to finish in seventh.
(Editor’s Note: Race fans can watch video of the fiery crash and the full race highlights now on the Speed51 Network)
After the lengthy clean up, the field restarted the race for the final time, and Bilderback was able to drive through lapped traffic to victory lane.
“The car was really good all weekend. We made a change then went right back to normal, we never even should have touched the thing,” Bilderback said after the race. “We have had better cars, but we aren’t going to complain.”
Jeremy Miller looked to draw Bilderback in with 10 to go, but ultimately did not have enough to pull it off.
“Our car was good all day; I was really happy with it. To come here and finish second I am happy.”
Miller would unofficially finish second.
Tim Sargent had some trouble early on, but quickly drove up to the top three after the red flag.
“We started off good, I lost power steering about lap 8.” Miller said. “After the long caution the power steering came back. Glad we finished third, but think we had something for them.”
The next race for the Big 8 Late Model Series will be Friday, June 2 at Hawkeye Downs Speedway (IA) for the “Clash at the Downs III”.
-By Caleb Slouha, Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com