Rockford Speedways NASCAR Late Model division season champion was determined last Saturday night, Sept. 1. In the 60-year history of the track, there has never been a closer finish.
For the seventh consecutive season, Ricky Bilderback is the Late Model season champion. This year, his margin of victory was the slimmest ever1 point over runner-up Jerry Gille.
Gille held a 7-point lead over Bilderback going into the nights 30-lap feature. That meant Bilderback had to finish at least four spots ahead of Gille to claim the championship.
Because of a blown engine in the trophy dash, Gille was forced to drive a back-up car in the feature. That meant he would have to start from the rear of the 13-car field. Bilderback started the feature in the eighth spot. By lap eight, Bilderback had worked his way up to second. Gille was working his way through the field and was in the seventh spot by lap 10.
At the midway point of the race, Bilderback was still running second, and Gille had picked up two more spots. Bilderback knew he would have to at least win the race to have a chance at winning the championship. With 11 laps remaining, Bilderback passed race leader Tim Sargent.
At the checkered flag, it was Bilderback collecting his fifth feature win of 2007 and possibly the biggest win of his Rockford Speedway career. His victory, combined with Gilles fifth-place finish, gave him a 1-point lead in the season championship standings.
The humble Bilderback said in victory lane: I really didnt deserve it this time. As a team we deserve it, but it takes so much luck to win. With Jerry blowing a motor earlier, you really cant foresee that. We could have had a flat tire or broke something ourselves. It feels good, it really does.
Gille said after the race: We have really nothing to complain about. Its a hard pill to swallow, but well move on and come back and race hard next year.
Charlie Frisch won the season championship in the Road Runner division by winning the feature. He had to come from his 11th starting position to win. He finished ahead of Terrance Robinson and secured his top spot in the season points race. It was a good season for me, Frisch said after the race. I was a nervous wreck all day. all I wanted to do was win this!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com. from the Sept. 5 – Sept. 11, 2007, issue