Photo Courtesy LaCrosse Speedway / Forte Design Mary Schill
Oregon, WI- Bobby Wilberg holds a slim three point lead over Jeremy Miller heading into this Friday night’s NASCAR Whelen Championship Night at Madison International Speedway. With Wilberg having to start behind the inversion due to his win last Friday night, the twelve time MIS Champion will have to once again battle his way through a tough field of Late Model competitors in order to secure another Championship. If Miller, a four time MIS Late Model, 2014 Super Late Model titlist and four time Big 8 Series Champion were not enough competition, the point leaders from four neighboring tracks have indicated their intentions to compete at ‘Wisconsin’s Fastest Half Mile’ this Friday, September 1.
With one win at Madison this season, Michael Bilderback finds himself fourth in MIS points during his first full season of competition at the Oregon half mile. The South Beloit, IL hot shoe has four wins at Rockford Speedway this season, where he is the defending Track Champion and current point leader. Bilderback currently sits 27th in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Points. The two time defending Big 8 Late Model Series Champion also finds himself atop those standings once again, with three feature wins to his credit in 2017, one at Rockford’s Spring Classic and then back to back wins during State Park Speedway’s Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend and the Dixieland Delight at Wisconsin International Raceway.
Nick Panitzke found success during his first visit to Madison International Speedway in July, also during a double feature program, recording the win in feature number one and racing his way to a third place podium finish in the second feature event. Last Friday night, Panitzke and his family crew pulled from Minnesota and garnered a runner-up finish to Wilberg. The 2013 TUNDRA Super Late Model Champion has found much success at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway this summer. Five visits to victory lane at the West Salem, WI facility has boosted him in front of perennial Champion and former NASCAR National/ARTGO/NASCAR Touring Champion Steve Carlson in the point standings. Now in point chasing mode, Panitzke will bounce from Madison to Elko Speedway in hopes of improving upon his current fourth place standing in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Points.
Having won three out of the last four Championships at ‘Wisconsin’s Action Track’, Dale Nottestad is once again in the thick of a Championship battle at Jefferson Speedway where he claimed the 2016 crown. Having ran a limited schedule at Madison this summer, Nottestad has been strong throughout his 2017 campaign, claiming checkered flags not only at Jefferson but Slinger Super Speedway as well. He has yet to taste victory at Madison this season, but he did visit victory lane as he and his team secured their second Badgerland Challenge title in August, capping off the three leg challenge between MIS, Jefferson and Slinger. The 2004 Madison Super Late Model Champion and two time (2012, 2014) Madison Late Model Champion has 25 career Late Model wins at MIS.
Not many drivers can say they have won at Bristol Motor Speedway, but Jacob Goede did just that in 2007. Not only is Goede at the top of his game in Late Model racing, but he is amongst the best snowmobile racers in the country as well, a former Champion on the snow. He is hot off his third Dwain Behrens Memorial win at Elko Speedway two weeks ago, where he is the three time defending track Champion and current point leader. Picking up a win at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway last month to go along with his four wins at Elko has catapulted Goede into seventh place in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Point Standings. Friday night will mark Goede’s first weekly visit to MIS, where he has experience with the ARCA Midwest Tour.
Not to be overshadowed by the various point leaders coming to town Friday night, Wilberg and Miller arguably have the best resumes amongst the crowd. To go along with his twelve MIS titles, Wilberg is tied atop the record books at Rockford Speedway with seven Late Model Championships at the northern Illinois Speedplant. At Madison, he has 14 Super Late Model wins, his two wins this season has bumped him up to twelve Late Model wins to go along with twelve Sportsman wins, eight ‘Crate Model’ wins, and thirteen Modified wins. Miller in his own right is a four time Big 8 Late Model Series Champ, with twelve career wins in Series competition. He also had a big night during the last double feature program in July, coming from ninth position to record the win in the second thirty lap feature event. Four Super Late Model wins at Madison and four Big 8 wins at Madison are amongst Miller’s accomplishments, not to mention sitting third on the all-time Late Model win list with fourteen, thanks to his two weekly victories in 2017. Meanwhile 2015 MIS Champion Zack Riddle sits one hundred markers out of the point lead in third place. Riddle has one feature win on the season but is likely to challenge for another win Friday night.
Robert Hansberry looks to secure his fourth Dave’s White Rock Sportsman Championship at the conclusion of Friday night’s double features. He holds a sixty two point advantage over two time feature winner Mike Taylor. Seventy four points separate Pellitteri Waste Systems Bandit front man Dave Schmidt and two time division Champ Dan Snyder. Schmidt is in search of his first MIS title, he currently has four feature wins in 2017 on ‘The Ring of Fire’.
NASCAR Whelen Championship Night this Friday, September 1 will also host the 2nd annual Madtown Meltdown Speed Trials. A $1,000 bonus awaits any open wheel driver that can best David Byrne’s 14.624 second/123.09 MPH lap set last year or any late model type driver that is able to break Chris Wimmer’s 2012 lap of 17.245 seconds/104.38 MPH. Pit gates open at 3:30, practice begins at 5, spectator gates open at 6pm with qualifying getting underway at 6:15. The R.A. Heating and Cooling Dashes will begin at 7:30pm, followed by double features for all 3 NASCAR divisions plus the Madtown Meltdown. Adult general admission tickets are $14, Whelen Heroes and Seniors are $12, Students (12-17) are $8, kids (6-11) $5 with children 5 and under admitted free. Family pricing is just $30 for up to two adult admission and up to 4 admissions for ages seventeen and under. For more information visit www.misracing.com or call 608-835-9700. Madison International Speedway is family owned and operated, located at 1122 Sunrise Road in Oregon, WI.