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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s been quite some time since veteran Midwestern racer Bobby Wilberg could last call himself a track champion at Madison International Speedway.
In fact, the last time Wilberg earned that honor was 2008 when he captured the late model track championship at the half-mile asphalt oval located in Oregon, Wisconsin.
That all changed this year for the 52-year-old driver from Beloit, Wisconsin, who was able to secure the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship in the Club LaMark Late Model division.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better season honestly,” said Wilberg, who won twice in 12 starts at Madison this year. “Probably the biggest thing that helped us the most was getting a competitive motor with the rest of them. We kind of upgraded our program to have what everybody else had. We got the Wegner LS motor. Everything was just great right out of the box. We qualified second the first night and won the first night.”
“Everything just went perfect. We only had one bad night when there was a wreck and we kind of got stuck in between two cars. It just knocked the rack loose and we had to go into the pits and tighten that back up and start in the back. I think we ended up eighth or ninth, that was our worst finish. If we had made it through that wreck we probably would have won that day. Our worst finish other than that was fourth. You can’t ask for any better than that.”
Wilberg is no rookie at Madison. His championship this year is his 12th career track championship at Madison International Speedway spread across multiple divisions. He’s earned a total of 19 track championships during his career, including seven at Illinois' Rockford Speedway.
“I’ve won those track championships in, God, like five different divisions,” Wilberg said. “I’ve won them in open-wheel modifieds, a couple super late model ones, I won like three of them in the crate motor cars, three of them in the cars we’re running now and one of them in the sportsman cars.
“I just like the race track. It’s a fast, high banked race track. I’ve just got a lot of time there, a lot of laps,” Wilberg said. “A couple of those years I won the super late model championship and the crate motor championship running two cars every night. I just like the place. It suits might driving style.”
Wilberg will be honored along with all the other NASCAR state and track champions will be honored during the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 9 inside North Carolina’s Charlotte Convention Center. Depending on how the offseason goes, it may be the last time Wilberg makes the trip to Charlotte.
“I really don’t know right now,” Wilberg said when asked if he’d return to defend his track championship in 2017. “I would like to and everything, but it all kind of hinges on sponsorship. For the past 17 years I’ve had First Supply as a sponsor. They’ve been a great sponsor and everything, but every year it gets tougher and tougher to find the money.
“They’re budgeting right now, so I probably won’t know anything until the middle of January,” Wilberg said about his sponsor First Supply.
If things don’t work out and Wilberg is unable to return next year, he said he can at least enjoy the fact that he went out at the top of his game.
“I would like to come back and race, but I’m not getting no younger. It really wouldn’t bother me to go out on top. That’s kind of nice too,” Wilberg said.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars are among the many showcases for Whelen products.