MILWAUKEE — As the only Wisconsin native in this year's Daytona 500, Richfield's Josh Bilicki continues to scrap and claw as the underdog, with Wisconsin companies from the Badger state supporting him along the way.
"We have three great Wisconsin companies on the car," Josh Bilicki says. "Wisconsin Lighting Lab, which is located in Fond du Lac, they create and make high-output LED lighting and lighting products. So for me to carry them on our car at the Daytona 500, our biggest race of the year, is really cool. I mean, their name says it all: Wisconsin Lighting Lab. We also have Palermo's Pizza, which, that's my favorite pizza brand, so for that to come together, that actually came together through Wisconsin Lighting Lab. So it's funny how all these deals came out. I'm excited to have Palermo's. We also have Custom Fiberglass Molding. Lance from Custom Fiberglass Molding, he's a racer himself."
Josh carries the Wisconsin banner well.
"I mean, I'm excited for the 500. But I can tell you that I am just as excited for the Road America Cup race. It's Fourth of July weekend. I don't think you could have any better date for that. I mean, the Saturday Xfinity race. The Sunday Cup race. It's going to be epic," Bilicki says. "I can tell you, my Wisconsin partners, they're excited. My fans are excited. My family's excited. That's definitely number one on my list. And I think I have more on-track experience than most Cup drivers, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage, being a small team and go there to compete upfront."
With a small team, he does his own marketing and social media. So he hears the naysayers when they mention he's just a field filler or backmarker.
"There's been a lot of times in my career, especially driving for smaller teams, where I kind of thought to myself, 'well you know, this might be it. Or is it even worth taking the next step?' And you go to sleep, and you wake up the next morning and you know you come out with a clean mindset and you say, 'alright, it is time to take the next step.'"
Josh finished 24th. But the best part? He didn't get caught up in the big wrecks at Daytona.