For decades, late model racers have chased red No. 18 cars around bull rings throughout the Deep South.
This year is shaping up to be more of the same.
Casey Roderick took advantage of Augie Grill’s misfortune late in the running of the R.S. Trucking Spring Explosion 125 at Montgomery Motor Speedway to capture his third win of 2017.
The win kept Roderick’s perfect batting average for 2017 intact.
“It feels great to be running this well,” Roderick said. “Augie probably had a car that was a little better than ours, but had something go wrong with it. We put ourselves in a good spot to win again, and some luck went our way.”
While leading on lap 71, Grill went to lap Roger Reuse in turn three. Grill went high to the outside of Reuse, as instructed by race officials in the pre-race driver’s meeting, but Reuse didn’t hook the bottom of the groove. The move forced Grill to jam on the breaks, and allowed Roderick to sneak by for the lead.
After clawing his was back to the lead -taking advantage of Roderick’s own run-in – with a lapped car, Grill’s luck turned worse again.
“We put a new gear cover on the rear end, and I guess we didn’t do our thing before the race, because we had a couple of nuts come off,” Grill said. “We lost some oil, and they made us come in. We put some more nuts on it, but they came off again, dumping what little oil was left in it. We just burned the rear end up.”
Grill is officially credited with an eighth place finish.
In the late race craziness, which saw a handful of cars run out of fuel, Chandler Smith rallied from an early-race mistake to finish second, and Derek Scott, Jr. came home third in his innagural run for Anthony Campi Racing.
“I can’t thank my team enough for their hardwork in this debut race,” Scott said. “We qualified 10th, so I just did my best to keep the tires on it and come through the field to finish third.”
But the night belonged to Roderick and car owner Ronnie Sanders.
Sanders wheeled the No. 18 on short tracks for nearly four decades before retiring in 2008.
Now, at the spry age of 71, the former wheelman is drawing praise from his current driver.
“I drive for the hardest-working man in short track racing,” Roderick said. “I’m now working for him full time now, and I learn more everyday. He works twice as hard as guys half his age.”
The win gives Roderick his third win in three different states this year. In January, he captured the Zach Donnati Memorial at New Smyrna, Fla. and the Pro Late Model portion of SpeedFest of 2017 at Crisp Motorsports Park in Georgia.
It’s early in the year, but Roderick is having fun everytime he slides in the window of Sanders’ car.
“Anytime you run up front and contend for wins, it’s fun,” Roderick said. “We are doing a lot of both right now, and i couldn’t be happier.”
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Saturday’s race by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage.
|3||81||Derek Scott, Jr.|
|5||30||Bobby Knox, Jr.|
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com