By: Eric Huenefeld
The saying has always been, “the third time’s the charm.”
That saying rang true for Dale Nottestad Friday night at Madison International Speedway. Nottestad slipped ahead of John DeAngelis Jr twice in Friday’s Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet feature race, only to see yellow flags negate both of his moves to the front. Nottestad could not be denied however, taking the lead from DeAngelis with 12 laps to go en route to his first Big 8 Series victory of the season.
DeAngelis started the 48 lap feature race from the outside pole, stealing the lead from pole sitter Steve Dobbratz in the race’s opening corners. After assuming the lead, DeAngelis was able to step away from the pack which battled furiously behind him. In the middle of that pack was Nottestad, the two-time Madison International Speedway track champion, who started in ninth position. Nottestad quickly made a push through the field, following Quartermaster Fast Qualifier Dan Lensing forward. Both Nottestad and Lensing worked into the top five by lap 20. Then, the fun began.
On the lap 21 restart, Nottestad chose the bottom lane behind leader DeAngelis, with Lensing opting for the top side. Nottestad hung with DeAngelis and inched ahead of the teenager for the lead on the backstretch. But before Nottestad could hit the line to officially assume the top spot, the yellow flag flew and DeAngelis had dodged a bullet. On the ensuing restart, it was Lensing getting the jump from the high side. Lensing and DeAngelis raced side-by-side for the lead, with both drivers racing hard and trading the top spot. Lensing led laps 25 and 26, with DeAngelis pulling back ahead on lap 27.
Nottestad embraced the opportunity to sneak under Lensing, taking back the runner up spot then closing back to DeAngelis. On lap 35, Nottestad again edged ahead of DeAngelis in turn three for the lead. But as the leaders hit turn four, the yellow flag flew yet again and Nottestad’s move to the front was negated.
On the next restart, Nottestad wasted little time, disposing of DeAngelis within a lap. Nottestad finally led the field to the line and was officially the new race leader. No caution flags were displayed in the final 12 laps, allowing Nottestad to sprint to the checkered flag, capturing his fourth career Big 8 Series victory. DeAngelis finished the race in second, his best ever Big 8 Series effort. Lensing ended the race in third spot, his first ever Big 8 Series top five. Austin Nason finished a Big 8 race in the top five for the second time in three races, coming home in fourth. 2010 Rockford Speedway champion Tim Sargent collected his third straight Series top five, finishing the race in fifth.
Big 8 Series points leader Casey Johnson made the best of a bad night. Before his black #5 car could take an official qualifying lap, engine troubles forced Johnson to pull his car to the infield. Fellow competitor Brian Ulrich loaned his car to Johnson for the night, allowing the Edgerton native the chance to protect his Series point lead. Johnson started at the back of an 8-car qualifier, finishing third. The two-time Jefferson Speedway champion started the 48-lap feature in 20th position, finishing the 48 laps in 8th position. The effort by Johnson was enough to earn the Powersource ‘Power Mover’ of the Race award. Johnson’s points lead is now a mere 12 points over race winner Nottestad as the series looks forward to a four week stretch starting in September where a new Big 8 Series Champion will be decided.
Here’s the complete rundown of the results:
Big 8 Salute to America 48
(1-10) Dale Nottestad, John DeAngelis Jr., Dan Lensing, Austin Nason, Tim Sargent, Bobby Wilberg, Jeff Holtz, Casey Johnson, Jesse Bernhagen, Kevin Knuese
(11-20) Shane Morrissey, Dan Church, Brady Liddle, Cory Kemkes, Dave Edwards, John Ovadal Jr., Mike Lange, Eric Connell, Gary Krueger, Tom Jasinski
(21-30) Steve Dobbratz, Jody Krueger, Casey Strese, Andy Evraets, Jay Foster, J Herbst, Bill Baumeister, Rich Schumann Jr., Don Wickstrum, Jake Finney