It has been a tough week for Michael Bilderback and his family. All week long, Bilderback has been asking for prayers for his grandfather Roger on social media as he is under medical care in a local hospital for a severe ailment.
Michael Bilderback made the trek to Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin for the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series season finale with the hope of doing something to help his grandfather. He accomplished that by winning the 75-lap feature by beating Ryan Farrell at the line by 0.059 seconds to get the victory.
“Man, I am speechless. He is our rock, he is our everything,” an emotional Bilderback said in victory lane. “Him not being here is like we are empty. He has been with me for 23 years. But there is hope and we will keep praying and hopefully he will be here in a couple of weeks.”
As soon as Bilderback exited his car, he was handed a cell phone.
“It was my grandma, she is there at the hospital and hasn’t left his side,” Bilderback said. “She told him that we had won and I guess he shed a couple of tears. There is a little more and a little more every day.”
Bilderback raced in the top five all race long and led early on. But fell back to fourth with 14 laps to go.
Up front, Dennis Prunty and Brad “JJ” Mueller were in a great side-by-side battle for the lead until Mueller spun on his own in turn four. Mueller was sent to the rear, but Prunty developed a problem himself and went to the pits.
This handed the lead to Farrell on the final restart. Farrell and Bilderback were side-by-side for the final ten laps. On the last lap, Bilderback got a good bite off of turn four to get by Farrell for the win.
Farrell would hoping for a huge victory, but will take second.
“It all depended on how he got off the corner. He had to put together three perfect laps to my almost three perfect laps and he came out ahead,” Farrell said after the race. “He was giving me a lot of room and I was taking every ounce I could. That may tell you how good his car was too.
“A win would have meant a lot before the last lap, but now it kind of sucks,” Farrell said with some laughter. “We want to get a win. This is about the level I want to be at consistently, but we are a little ways off and we will keep digging.”
Mueller recovered from his spin to finish third with Brad Keith in fourth and Randy Schuler rounding out the top five.
Reagan May finished seventh to claim the Rookie of the Year title.
“This is awesome for our whole team,” May said after the race. “We made some big improvements this year including a victory at La Crosse earlier this year. I really have to thank my family and crew for their hard work.”
Dalton Zehr fell out 18 laps to go with mechanical problems, but all he had to do was take the green flag to claim the 2014 TUNDRA Super Late Model Series title.
“It is huge. You know, for knowing we had a real good shot at winning it, I never really put any thought on what I would say,” Zehr said after the race. “It’s a huge deal! I have come up short twice and always been a contender in the TUNDRA Series and we finally did it. The crew deserves this championship because we were finally able to close one out.”
This is the second year in a row that Zehr wins a championship. Last year, he won the ASA Member Track National Championship.
For Bilderback, his two wins in the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series have been photo finishes this year. But this one easily means more than any victory in his career.
“Our water temp was about 250 from lap three and I wasn’t going to let this one go,” Bilderback said. “Hopefully we didn’t hurt anything else, but it doesn’t matter, this one is for grandpa.”
TUNDRA Super Late Model Series
Round 8 – Slinger 75
1. Michael Bilderback
2. Ryan Farrell
3. Brad “JJ” Mueller
4. Brad Keith
5. Randy Schuler
6. Tom Gee Jr.
7. Reagan May
8. Corey Jankowski
9. Brandon Selle
10. Curt Tillman
12. James Swan
13. Dennis Prunty
14. Mike Lichtfeld
15. Dalton Zehr
16. Steven Lichtfeld
17. Paige Decker
18. Travis Dassow
19. Conrad Morgan
20. Cory Kemkes
21. Chris Blawat
22. Rich Schumann Jr.
23. Jason Wells
– Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Director of Business/Midwest Editor. Twitter: @KevinRamsell
Photo Credit: Speed51.com