The Heart of Dixie’s oldest operative track hosted 15 Pro Late Models for a 100-lap Show Me the Money Series showdown Saturday evening. Though some of the south’s finest were in attendance, the battle for victory at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL) came down to a mid-race restart between two youthful drivers.
In the end, one driver was left frustrated while the other celebrated another win in victory lane at the Alabama short track.
After taking away the lead from pole-sitter Bobby Knox, Jr. with an inside pass on lap 4, Chandler Smith led the way for the majority of the race’s first half.
Casey Roderick found second early on, pitting the Georgia native side-by-side on the restart with the 15-year-old leader.
A nearly 10-year difference in age separated the drivers on the front row, but a matter of seconds would determine who got the upper hand as the pace truck released the field, rolling down pit road.
Smith fired, but what happened next would cause post-race emotions to flare.
Casey Roderick pulled himself out of the driver’s window and banged elatedly on the roof the red No. 18 machine parked in victory lane. Behind him sat podium finishers Chandler Smith and Perry Patino.
As Roderick leaned into the mic to speak to the crowd, Smith’s disgruntled crew chief strode past, uttering a comment to the winner.
“His crew chief came up to me and said [they] would have won the race if I hadn’t have jumped the restart,” Roderick told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
On the restart, Roderick had taken over the lead from Smith. Another 56 green-flag laps were run before the checkered flag dropped and Roderick began his celebration in victory lane.
Officials found no error in the restart and neither did Roderick.
“I did nothing wrong,” Roderick said. “He fired first and I went. He missed a shift and I pulled him down the straightaway. That’s all there is to it.”
When asked if he shared his crew chief’s perspective, second-place finisher Smith offered a straightforward reply.
“Yeah, [Roderick] jumped me a little bit, but it is what it is,” Smith said frankly. “The race is over with. He’s in victory lane and I’m in second.”
Smith seemed calm and matter-of-fact as his machine rolled through post-race tech, but eventually revealed his ultimate displeasure with race control.
“If [race control’s] not going to call it, it’s whatever,” Smith said. “I mean; I respect them for it. If they’re not going to call stuff like that, but then call it on me; it’s whatever.”
Roderick and Smith found themselves repeatedly weaving through slower traffic as the laps wound down in the 100-lap feature. Only four drivers finished on the lead. Lapped cars looked as though they would play to Smith’s advantage, but there wasn’t enough time or traffic left to curb Roderick.
“I found something there towards the end and we pulled [Roderick] really hard,” Smith said. I feel like we could have gotten him.”
Despite a dominating performance, Roderick was left irritated by yet another 2017 victory lane celebration gone awry.
“Time and time again, every time I’m starting second, someone complains about my restarts,” Roderick exclaimed. “They’ve got videotape, they can zoom in on it and watch [Smith] fire. He just missed a shift. He made a mistake and I took advantage of it as I do every other restart. It’s just frustrating.”
At a loss for words, Roderick concisely concluded what he believed to be the underlying issue.
“You know, I guess people just hate winners. And I’m a freakin’ winner.”
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Saturday’s race by clicking here.
-By Speed51.com Staff
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Show Me the Money Series Unofficial Results
Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL) – July 15, 2017
|4||30K||Bobby Knox Jr.|
|10||13||Bill Bethea III|