Montgomery Motor Speedway laid down a challenge, and Augie Grill accepted it.
Grill rallied in the second half of Saturday’s Show Me the Money 100 to find victory lane for the first time this year, and lay claim to the $500 bounty placed on Casey Roderick.
“They (Roderick’s team) brought out their gold wheels and new uniforms,” Grill said. “We get the check. It’s always fun to have more money.”
However, Roderick didn’t let Grill ride off into the Alabama night without a fight. A caution with two laps to go cleared out Grill’s two-second lead, and set up a green-white-checker shootout for the win.
The two drivers fired in unison on the restart, and stayed side-by-side through turn one. Grill got more forward bite off the corner and cleared Roderick down the backstretch before pulling away by a couple of car lengths at the end.
“When the caution came out, I thought that another race was going to robbed from me,” Grill said. “I know Casey is really good on restarts. I figured I had the car to get him and had to hit my marks on the last two laps. Luckily I did and the best car won tonight.”
Roderick, who is the defending Show Me the Money PLM Champion and the hottest short track driver in the country, praised Grill’s effort, but feels an ill-handling car kept him from a chance at another win.
“Augie is as tough of a competitor that you will find,” Roderick said. “He will do whatever needs to do to get a win, and I was willing to do the same thing. However, I just didn’t have any grip in the front end. If the grip would’ve been there, the fans would have seen something special on that last restart.”
Grill has adopted Montgomery Motor Speedway as his home track these days, and his legacy as a driver is intertwined with the Alabama half-mile. Grill’s second ever start as a driver came years ago at Montgomery, and ended with a runner-up finish.
Since that first start, Grill has scored double-digit wins and a handful of prestigious Alabama 200’s at Montgomery.
When he emerged from his car in victory lane, Grill showed an ear-to-ear grin and celebrated not like a driver who has won dozens of events, but like one who had just captured his first. When asked why he was so excited, Grill answered quickly.
“Competition,” Grill said. “It’s just the feeling of winning against the amazing competition we see. Tonight, we were able to beat the new king of short track racing, Also, doing this for a living, makes you even more proud. I’ve been doing this for a while, but if I’m competitive I’ll be out here with my walker and cane.”
Before Grill took control, Christopher Tullis, Roderick and Chandler Smith each spent time out front. The quartet of wheelmen waged a furious battle during the early stages. In the end, Smith finished third and Tullis came home fifth. Bobby Knox, Jr. slotted in fourth.
Veteran Chris Davidson’s first Pro Late Model start in a while will go down as one he will remember forever.
On lap three, Davidson got turned in front of pack of traffic, clipped by Justin Ashburn and turned on his roof down the front stretch. Davidson’s machines slid on the roof all the way to turn one before coming to a stop.
The trip on his roof was a first for the long-time racer.
“Counting tonight, I’ve been upside down one time,” Davidson said. “I got turned and then just saw the pavement through the windshield. My first thought was about fire, but luckily that wasn’t an issue.”
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now updates from Saturday’s event by clicking here.
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Show Me the Money 100 Unofficial Results
South Alabama Speedway – April 22, 2017
|4||30||Bobby Knox, Jr.|
|9||13||Bill Bethea III|