Steve Rubeck sat just eight points behind Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet top gun Dale Nottestad entering tonight's 'Independence 48' at the Madison International Speedway; however, he wasn't exactly satisfied after relinquishing the advantage in the standings with a hard luck eighth place result in last month's event at Jefferson. 'The Mayor of Monroe Center' can smile now after registering his second career Big 8 Series win in convincing fashion, leading the final 42 laps on the half-mile oval en route to victory lane and taking over the points lead by two markers in the process.
Nottestad nabbed the runner-up spot with a late race move on fast qualifier Jeremy Miller, relegating the three-time champ to a third place finish after he had won the previous two Big 8 bouts. A late race caution provided both Miller and Nottestad a final opportunity to challenge Rubeck for the win but neither driver had enough muscle under the hood to get it done on a steaming hot evening at 'Wisconsin's Fastest Half-Mile'.
Bobby Wilberg burst into the top spot, pacing the 26-car field to the green flag for the Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet ‘Independence 48’ at the Madison International Speedway. Brady Liddle settled into second as a lightning fast Steve Rubeck romped through the field and into third.
An early caution flew on lap four for a spin by Johnny Baumeister Jr. in turn three as Ryan Goldade smacked into the wall trying to avoid him. James Swan and young gun Ty Majeski were both collected in the mayhem but drove away with minimal damage, receiving their spots back after spinning to avoid the wreck. Zach Riddle was sent to the back for his role in the incident as Baumeister Jr. dropped to the rear of the field.
Wilberg walked away from the field on the restart as Rubeck rocketed into second and chased the leader. ‘The Mayor from Monroe Center’ got alongside Wilberg on lap six, driving hard through turn four to snag the top spot right before a caution came out with eight laps in the books.
Rubeck rolled to the lead on a restart as Kyle Shear briefly snatched the runner-up spot before Bobby Wilberg pulled a little bump-and-run move to take the spot away as points leader Dale Nottestad jumped into a podium spot in third.
Three-time series champion Jeremy Miller took over sixth from teenager Davey Pennel and immediately sized up Shear for a top-five spot while Wilberg sliced into the leader’s advantage up front. As Miller made his way into fifth, Bobby Wilberg, he of zero career Big 8 Series wins, closed to within a couple of car lengths as the race moved past the halfway mark.
With just under 15 circuits remaining, Wilberg slipped into the clutches of Nottestad as the two longtime MIS regulars dueled for second. The spread out field was bunched up once again after a debris caution fell with 11 laps to go. Drivers used the Delaware double-file restart cone to move up as fast qualifier Jeremy Miller suddenly resided on the outside of the second row when the green flag waved.
The field couldn’t even take the green before trouble broke out on the frontstretch as cars bunched up on the restart and Kris Kelly, Michael Bilderback, and Steve Dobbratz spun out while Jimmy Ganski and Andy Evraets managed to avoid the mayhem. On the second attempt at a green flag, Rubeck managed to push out to a two car-length edge on the new second place man, Jeremy Miller.
As Nottestad sifted through the field into third, Miller began to set up a pass for the lead, peeking to the inside of Rubeck on the entrance to each turn before dropping back coming out of turn two.
Miller couldn’t pull the trigger on a pass for the lead and his machine began to fade as the closing laps approached, allowing Nottestad to cozy up to his rear bumper with three laps to go. On the next lap, Miller got loose on the entrance to turn one, slipping up the asphalt banking and surrendering the runner-up position to Dale Nottestad.
With the duel for second in his rearview mirror, Steve Rubeck was never challenged in the final five laps, pacing the field over the last 42 circuits en route to the winner’s circle. The standings leader at one point earlier in the season, Rubeck’s first Big 8 Series victory since last fall’s Oktoberfest trophy erased his deficit in the standings and handed him the top spot again, this time with a two point edge .
“The car was strong all night long,” he admitted in victory lane. “Once I got up front, I just tried to make it as wide as possible and get away from the field a little bit. I have to thank the Atchisons and my crew for giving me a great car and this awesome opportunity to race this thing.”
Nottestad notched a fourth consecutive top-three finish as the halfway point of the Big 8 campaign passes by. The late race pass on his MIS compatriot, Jeremy Miller, enabled the vet to register a strong second place showing. Miller ended up third after pressuring Rubeck up front for a while.
Bobby Wilberg’s night ended with a fourth place run as MIS veterans grabbed the top four spots in the final running order. Kyle Shear, pulling double duty with his MASCS car in the pits as well, put together a solid effort and held on to finish fifth to round out the top five.
Zach Riddle rallied from his early-race incident to notch a sixth place result while local driver Brady Liddle managed a respectable seventh place effort.
The Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet rolls into the fifth stop of the year on Sunday, July 17th, as the stars and cars tackle Slinger Super Speedway and duke it out to see who will become the ‘King of the Highbanks’ in an 88-lap main event. With a trip to the swift high-banked quarter-mile oval under their belts, look for top contenders to put together a strong challenge for the home track warriors in a couple of weeks.
For more information on the Big 8 Series, including a full 2011 schedule, visit the series website at www.big8series.com or contact the Rockford Speedway Box Office at (815)633-1500.
Big 8 Series Results
Madison International Speedway (7.1.11)
RACE: 4 of 8
'Independence 48' --
1. Steve Rubeck, Rockford
2. Dale Nottestad, Cambridge, Wis
3. Jeremy Miller, Rockton
4. Bob Wilberg, Beloit, Wis
5. Kyle Shear, Roscoe
6. Zach Riddle, Cottage Grove, Wis
7. Brady Liddle, Oregon, Wis
8. Davey Pennel, Sparta, Wis
9. Jimmy Ganski, Rosholt, Wis
10. Eddie May, Crystal Lake
11. Ty Majeski (r), Seymour, Wis
12. Kevin Knuese, Waukesha, Wis
13. Nathan Oppliger, Oregon, Wis
14. Ryan Carlson, Loves Park
15. Steve Dobbratz, Rio, Wis
16. Andy Evraets, Menomonee Falls, Wis
17. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis
18. Ed Szelagowski Jr, Westfield, Wis
19. Michael Bilderback, South Beloit
20. Kris Kelly, Norway, Mich.
21. Dan Lensing, Poplar Grove
22. James Swan, Lake Geneva, Wis
23. John Baumeister, Jr., Lake Geneva, Wis
24. Mike Ehde, Prairie du Chien, Wis
25. Ryan Goldade, Edgerton, Wis
26. Jacob Finney, Sycamore