Roderick on a Roll!admin
Roderick Eyes Blizzard Series Victory to Cap Extraordinarily Fun, Chaotic Week of Racing Across 4 States
By Chuck Corder
Smack-dab in the middle of a rollicking month of June, Casey Roderick is desperately searching for some much-needed “Z’s.”
“I haven’t been able to sleep long yet,” Roderick confirmed.
It’ll come eventually. After all, the Lawrenceville, Ga., driver is just 26. While Roderick is rightly considered a veteran of short-track racing, he’s still young to recover from a restless few days and his white-hot passion for racing still burns strong.
When Roderick completes the Universal Fabricators 100 on Friday at Five Flags Speedway, it will mark a stretch of five races in four states, spanning 11 days, and two teams.
“Your adrenaline is pumping,” Roderick explained. “I might’ve been a little tired before practice started. But once I start thinking about what I’m doing, and I get strapped in, everything else goes away.”
Roderick and the nation’s premier Super Late Models return to the famed half-mile asphalt oval for the Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series race No. 2 of 2019. The Universal Fabricators 100 marks the halfway point to the 10-race Southern Super Series schedule.
The Faith Chapel Outlaws, WCIparts.com Pro Trucks, and Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks round out the racing lineup. Pensacola’s high banks will also get into the patriotic spirit Friday night by celebrating the Fourth of July a few days early with a fireworks show.
Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday with admission $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military, and students; and free for children ages 11-and-under.
While he continued to run the Super Late Model and Pro Late Model programs for Ronnie Sanders, the short-track legend and venerable Late Model car owner, Roderick was presented with an intriguing proposition in early June.
Through the engineering of Justin Oertel and Cody Glick, Roderick got word he’d be behind the wheel of a Rowdy Manufacturing car out of the shop of friendly rival at two races in the Midwest.
“We’re talking about maybe a couple more if the dates line up right,” said Roderick, who with Sanders’ tireless support drives a FURY Race Car for SLMs and a GARC car for Pro Late Models. “When we’re not running for Ronnie, I’d love to be able to run so more.”
Oertel, a past Southern Super Series champion, purchased Hamke Race Cars last fall. A few months later, he joined with NASCAR star Kyle Busch to build Late Models and stock car chassis as Rowdy Manufacturing, an existing brand Busch established several years ago.
Rowdy Manufacturing cars have won the last two Snowball Derby races with Busch (2017) and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series winner Noah Gragson (2018) behind the wheel.
Oertel and Glick, General Manager of the new Rowdy, knew Wilson had two brand-new Rowdy cars. They reached out to Roderick, who pounced at the golden opportunity to race at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway and the Milwaukee Mile Speedway.
Other than Trevor Knowles stepping in during the US Short Track Nationals at Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway earlier this month, the car had not been driven before Roderick climbed in on June 10 at Berlin where he finished s a respectable sixth.
“We ran first and second most of that race, and led a lotta laps,” Roderick said of the Money in the Bank 150, which marked the first race in the week-and-half-long slate. “We pitted for tires, and the car wasn’t as good. We didn’t have enough at the end.”
Three days later, when he arrived for last Thursday night’s practice for the Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Models 100 at Five Flags, things were rapidly picking up. After a disappointing qualifying effort Friday, Roderick made some changes before the drop of the green flag, which meant he started in the back of the 17-car pack.
He rallied to finish fourth, an impressive performance, but three spots shy of where the reigning Blizzard Series and Allen Turner Hyundai PLM Series is used to celebrating. An all-too familiar story repeated itself the next night at Montgomery Motor Speedway where Roderick finished fifth.
Roderick’s busy weekend wrapped up last Sunday at the Mile in Milwaukee where he claimed another top-five.
“I left Montgomery, and drove home to Atlanta,” Roderick detailed his itinerary to Wisconsin. “I took shower at Ronnie’s, got back on the road, and caught a flight at 6 a.m. I didn’t sleep.
“But, I got some caffeine in me, whatever I could. Mentally, it was a little tough. But, I was good to go once the day started.”
With wins only during SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Ga., and the Baby Rattler at South Alabama Speedway, Roderick is champing at the bit for a few more trips to Victory Lane.
He worries there is a higher priority on racing the cars instead of making tweaks and adjustments back at Sanders’ shop, which can cause things to be overlooked back at the shop. Roderick has also noticed that the teams that have surpassed them this season, such as Anthony Campi Racing, are paying for everything from data to the essentials needed to get out front.
“Sometimes, it feels like all we’re doing is maintaining cars and getting them ready for the next race,” Roderick said. “We’re trying to do it as cheap as we can. That’s good because we’re still able to race. Ronnie’s been doing this for a long time. But, in today’s racing, it has changed.
“I want some victories. I wanna be consistent with that. I’m never happy with second, third, fourth. Anything other than a win (stinks) to me. Those are the kinda expectations I have for myself and our team. I’m capable of winning every race we enter if we have everything right.”