Casey Roderick looked more relieved than excited following the Allen Turner 100.
After winning 18 races in 2017, Roderick was 0-for-5 in 2018 prior to his dominant performance Friday night at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.
Roderick started on the outside of the front row – after setting fast time in time trials – took control of the race in the first corner and never looked back. Roderick led them all to snatch his first victory of the year.
“This feels so good,” Roderick said. “It has been a little while since we have been to victory lane. Before tonight, we haven’t had the finishes we want. It has been little things that kept us from winning, and it feels great to go flag-to-flag and dominate.”
Of Roderick’s five races prior to Friday, he had finished only two of them. He wrecked out of the Pro Late Model portion of SpeedFest in January and the Show Me the Money opener at Montgomery in early March. A couple of weeks ago at the Rattler 250, the engine in Roderick’s No. 18-machine gave up the ghost before lap 100.
The leader of every lap announced to his fellow racers that he isn’t going anywhere, and the Ronnie Sanders Racing team is still one of the top teams in the Deep South.
“We are always here and in the mix,” said Roderick with a smile. “But yeah, we’re back and we plan on keeping it there.”
While Roderick drove away up front, Dustin Smith put on a passing clinic to finish second.
Smith – riding a wave of good finishes in the early part of 2018 – worked his way from 11th and made his way to the back door of Roderick late in the event.
On the final restart with 11 laps to go, Smith hung with Roderick for two laps; but in the end Roderick was too strong and pulled away.
Smith was thrilled to be up front, and mixing it up with one of short track racing’s best talents.
“Casey is so good anywhere he goes,” Smith said. “Maybe one day we will get him, and win one.”
Veteran Chris Davidson crossed the line in third, with Korey Ruble and Giovanni Bromante rounding out the top five.
The race ran relatively clean until the late stages. A wreck on the last lap claimed front-runner Cole Anderson, Troy Grisaffi and others.
The late-race mayhem happened well behind Roderick who seemingly was on a Friday night beach cruise. The win was Roderick’s fifth-consecutive Allen Turner Series win, and Roderick couldn’t be happier to get back to his winning ways.
“I feel like we made some big gains this weekend that will help us the rest of the year,” said Roderick. “We want to be dominant in both the Pro and Super. We have really good preparation at the shop. We know what it takes to run well and execute like we did tonight. We found a good balance on things tonight and I like where things are headed.”
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Friday night’s racing by clicking here.
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com