The last time someone other than Casey Roderick won an Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series race Barack Obama was in the White House and The Chainsmokers had the top song in the country. It was way back in September of 2016, and Roderick kept the streak rolling Friday night.
Roderick made his move at the halfway mark, driving past Perry Patino as the duo streaked under the flag stand and driving away in the last half of the race to notch his six straight PLM series event in Pensacola.
Over the last 50 trips around Five Flags Speedway, Roderick showed the youngsters behind him how to seal the deal on one of racing’s biggest stages. What seemed like a planned out attack on the lead was just a coincidence according to the winner.
“It just played out that way,” Roderick said. “Those guys seemed to fire off really well, but after a few laps they backed up to me. Forward bite off the corner is what wins races, especially here. I could see them starting to wiggle off the corner and we stayed the same all night.”
Roderick’s charge to the front came after getting shuffled to fourth fifth early in the event after getting stuck in the high lane. In the first half of the race, Roderick had a front-row seat to some of the hardest and exciting racing in recent memory.
Young drivers Cole Anderson, Perry Patino and Connor Okrzesik, along with veteran Chris Davidson traded positions and the lead multiple times.
Roderick weaved and worked his way to put himself in position to take the checkers.
It has been more than 20 months since someone other than Casey Roderick won an Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series race.
Since finishing second in the final race of the 2016 season, the Lawrenceville, Ga. driver has pitched a shutout in what many consider the premier PLM series in the nation.
And if the opinions of his closest competitors come true, it may be a while before someone dethrones him.
“I have finished second to Casey a bunch of times,” Patino said. “Everyone says they are cheating, but I think they just have their stuff really dialed in. They are the best at this Pro Late game right now.”
Okrzesik and Gio Bromante echoed Patino’s thoughts.
“When he gets out front, there is almost no catching him,” Bromante said. “He is a veteran and been doing this awhile. I try to learn from him each time.”
“Chasing him down is so hard to do at any track, but especially here,” Okrzesik stated. “We are going to have to get better if we want to run with him. Right now he is better than everyone.”
Roderick started the 2018 season with a couple of bad races, but has since found his stride. Since March, Roderick has racked up seven wins and once again laid claim to being the top Pro Late Model team in the nation.
The return to the winning ways coincided with the dusting off of a 13-year-old winning machine known as “Moneymaker.”
“This little baby is always good no matter where we take it,” Roderick said. “Ronnie built this car in 2005 and it is still a good car. We get her off sometimes, but it always seems to come back around. I love this car.”
Like most race car drivers, Roderick is happiest when standing in victory lane. However, the last two seasons have served as a career renaissance. Roderick is now 25 – considered almost ancient in racing worlds these days – and is showing that he is one of the top wheelmen not only in the Deep South, but the entire nation.
Winning races is his favorite thing to do, and if he has it his way, he has many more years left to do it.
“I’m having the time of my life,” Roderick said with a wide smile. “You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to do anything different. This is what I was born to do, this is in my blood. If the Good Lord lets me, I will do it until I die.”
Roderick will continue doing what he was born to do on Saturday night when the Pro Late Models head to Mobile International Speedway for the second half of the Gulf Coast doubleheader. Race fans can watch that race via a live broadcast on Speed51.com's Summer Thunder TV.
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Friday night's race by clicking here.
-Story by Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent - Twitter: @RyanLMcCollough
-Photo credit: Speed51.com