Third time’s a charm for defending champion

Someone once said, “Third time’s a charm.” That quip held true for Ricky Bilderback in the Saturday, May 6 NASCAR Late Model 30-lap feature at Rockford Speedway. The five-time defending track champion won his first feature race of the 2006 season in his third attempt.

After starting in the fifth spot, Bilderback managed to catch race leader Brett McCoy with eight laps to go. The two battled side-by-side for the next six and three quarters of a lap. Coming out of turn four, with the white flag in sight, Bilderback was able to dive in front of McCoy for the lead. Bilderback held him off for the final lap, and won by half a car length. Jeremy Miller finished in the third spot. Week two feature winner Josh Nelms was fourth. Jerry Gille came in fifth.

In the Budweiser American Short Tracker 25-lap feature, George Sparkman took home his second checkered flag of the young season. On lap 22, Sparkman was running in the third position when race leader, Nick Cina Jr., got bumped from behind by the second-place car of Justin Scott. Both cars spun, causing the caution flag to fly. With only three laps left in the race, Sparkman inherited the lead and finished ahead of his younger brother, “B.J.” Sparkman, for the win.

In only his fourth race ever, Rick Nielsen found victory lane in the Coca-Cola Road Runner feature. Nielsen and Jason Van Hise started the race in the front row. The two battled side-by-side, back and forth for the first 15 laps. With five laps to go, Nielsen was able to pull ahead for good, and capture the checkered flag. Neither Nielsen nor Van Hise was able to pass the post-race inspection, and Pat Smith was credited with the victory.

In the visiting divisions, Michael Bilderback won the Legends feature. In the Bandolero feature, Kyle Jusits finished in front of Tyler Blume for the win.

Saturday, May 13, is the Mother’s Day special presented by B. Sanfield. All moms will be admitted to the races for half price. The first 200 moms will receive flowers. The Winged Women on Wheels will make their 2006 season debut. The NASCAR Late Models, Grand Nationals and the Coca-Cola Road Runners will be on the schedule. Gates open at 5 p.m. and racing begins at 7:07 p.m.

Doug Halberstadt is a local resident and is track announcer at Rockford Speedway. He can be reached via e-mail at

From the May 10-16, 2006, issue

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