This year Michael Bilderback took a step back from Super Late Model racing and decided to race his Limited Late Model full-time at Rockford Speedway (IL) and try his hand at some Big 8 races. While the transition from Super Late Models to Limited Late Models was a bit of an adjustment, with just Oktoberfest left on the 2015 Big 8 schedule, Bilderback leads the point standings by 20 markers.
“It was definitely a little transition getting back to Limited Late Model racing,” Bilderback told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “With the grip level of tire and speeds so much different I really had to step back and slow myself down as a driver. But I believe racing SLM for so long and then coming back to LLM it made me a smoother and better driver.”
Bilderback’s latest Big 8 win came Saturday night at Rockford Speedway. The South Beloit, IL driver quickly worked his way up to second in the 108-lap event before sizing up Casey Johnson for the lead. Bilderback stalked Johnson around the quarter-mile track, waiting to make his move. Around the half-way point Bilderback saw his opening and took it, taking the lead and never looking back.
“I knew it was going to be hard to pass Casey,” said Bilderback, “So we just had to follow him and hope for a mistake which doesn’t happen much from him. So I stayed as close as I could to be able to capitalize on a mistake and that’s what we did and then once we got to lead we just kept looking forward and not worry what’s behind us.”
Added Bilderback, “It was definitely something special to me with growing up at Rockford and seeing so many good drivers win that race. It’s definitely something that I’ve always wanted to accomplish. I would definitely put it on the top of the list for races I’ve won.”
To stand in Victory Lane on National Short Track Championship weekend was something truly special for Bilderback, who lost his father just over a year ago, and was a driving force behind Bilderback’s decision to race full-time at Rockford Speedway this season.
“It definitely has been a tougher year not having him here especially racing at Rockford because he tried so many time to get me to race full-time there, but I kept telling him no,” said Bilderback. “I don’t wanna be that local that runs good at one track. So that was a big reason why we did decide to run at Rockford full-time. So we just went into each racing making sure we had fun ‘cause that’s all he wanted us to do.”
Bilderback finished the year as runner-up in the Rockford track points, but now sets his sights on capturing a Big 8 title next weekend. He owns a 20-point lead over Austin Nason with La Crosse Speedway left on the schedule.
“We really didn’t have the intention to race Big 8 this year,” Bilderback told Speed51.com powered by JEGS, “And if we still had a shot to win the points we were gonna race the next race. So it definitely is a little shock to us that we were/are in contention to win it. We try not to overthink this point racing stuff because it only hurts you in the end, so we are just taking this race as a normal race and hopefully we come out ahead.”
-Jana Wimmer, Midwest Editor, Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo Credit: Mark Melchiori