Casey Roderick might hail from the state Georgia, but he has made Five Flags Speedway victory lane his home this season when it comes to the Allen Turner Pro Late Model series.
Coming into Friday night’s 100-lap feature, Roderick had won the first two races on the road to this year’s Snowflake 100. The penultimate race of the four-race series played out no different.
During the race, Jeff Choquette flexed his muscles in his first start of the season. Starting fourth, Choquette worked his way up to second early before diving to the inside of Okrzesik in turn one prior to Lap 15. When he returned to the start/finish line, he took the lead and never looked back for the next 70 laps.
From there, he never flinched on his way to leading the final 19 laps and securing the victory.
“I thought it was a good race at the end,” Roderick said. “Choquette is always fun. He’s a hard racer and gives 110-percent. I got into him on that last restart and didnt mean to. Tried to hold the bottom and it wouldn’t hold so I slammed into him a little bit and we raced good the rest of the way.”
Choquette was strong but that strong run early is what eventually led to his downfall.
“Too free,” Choquette said. “We tried riding it as long as we could. Tried maintaing the pace. We don’t run over here all the time and Casey (Roderick),(Connor) Okrzesik, and (Chris) Davidson. Those guys seem to run up front a little bit. We tried to judge off them all race and Casey (Roderick) got to fourth and I decided instead of racing him for third or fourth, why don’t I just go for the lead and see if I could ride there. I thought that was a pretty good move and we were able to pull it off but we didn’t have enough with 20, 25 to go. We just ran out of right rear tire basically.”
Second-place finisher Connor Okrzesik had a bittersweet night at Five Flags.
His first three Pro Late Model starts at Five Flags this year have been on the spectrum of emotions for a driver.
His first start ended with a DNF. When he came back for race two, he had a top-five finish. Tonight, Okrzesik had his career-best run at the Pensacola oval.
“It is disappointing to run second but it’s definitely a confidence booster to be getting closer and closer to winning,” Okrzesik said. “We’re right there. Just a little bit more, little bit more track position and I think we would have had a good shot. We still have tomorrow (at Mobile) and I think we are going to have a good shot tomorrow. I honestly thought tonight we were the better car but we got stuck in the back a little bit too long and couldn’t make the moves early on to secure the win.”
Okrzesik gets his shot tomorrow as the second part of the Gulf Coast double header leaves Pensacola and heads west across the bay to Mobile, Alabama.
Tomorrow’s Pro Late Model 100 race comes to you live as part of Speed51.com Summer Thunder TV.
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-Story by Collin Bestor, Speed51.com Gulf Coast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com