While Casey Roderick has established himself as one of the premier names in pavement Late Model racing, he has taken up a new challenge in 2019 by competing in select dirt Modified races along the Gulf Coast region. Roderick translated that into a trip to victory lane over the weekend, winning at Jackson Motor Speedway (MS).
Roderick started competing in Modified races this year, working with Toby Hodge as he branched out into the dirt world. Hodge is a veteran Dirt Modified racer in the region, as well as the father of Roderick’s girlfriend, 2017 Miss Snowball Derby Emmalee Hodge.
“I’ve been running a few races out here with Emmalee’s father,” Roderick told Speed51. “I’ve been dating her for about a year now, and I’ve been driving her dad’s modified. I’ve been out to Whynot, Jackson, Hattiesburg, running when I can when I have an off weekend on the asphalt side of things.”
Roderick and Hodge have been making gains on the car steadily over the course of the year. Those improvements produced a victory this weekend in Jackson Motor Speedway’s Open Wheel Modified division.
“We’ve been getting closer on wins and stuff. We’ve made a good bit of changes on the car, and it worked out. Finally got us a win, and it was a lot of fun. I enjoy the dirt and hopefully I’ll be able to do more of it.”
The evening went smoothly for the Lawrenceville, Georgia native, arriving at the track with a quick race car. That allowed the team to adjust with an ever-changing race track over the course of the evening.
“We started out practice with all the chances we made at the shop, we started really well. We felt pretty good about it. We made a couple more changes, won the heat and won the feature. Everything went smooth, we had no issues. Just went out there and focused on driving the right way.
In the case of Saturday night, ‘driving the right way’ included adjusting to a racing surface that became slicker and slicker throughout the night.
“The track got really dry slick. It started getting a really black surface on the entry of three in the heat race. We made some adjustments for that and the track got worse as the feature rolled around. I was pretty much on the bottom of the track all the way around. Had to get forward drive just a little bit better.”
With the first dirt win under his belt, Roderick hopes to make more dirt appearances in 2020, perhaps trying his hand at some larger-profile events to see how he stacks up against the competition.
“I hope so. I was talking to Toby Hodge, Emmalee’s father. If we get things a little better, we could get where we could go to bigger races in the future. I think he would like to do that as well. Not follow a tour or anything, but just pick a couple of bigger races next year and give it a shot.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Casey Roderick photo