It was a wild night at the home of the Snowball Derby as the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco returned to Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida for 100 laps of Super Late Model racing. It seemed like the race would come down to either Chad Finley or Harrison Burton going to victory lane through the course of the Rubber & Specialties 100, but instead it was Casey Roderick who survived all the mayhem and took home the checkered flag.
Roderick took the lead from Burton on a restart with 14 laps to go. He and Burton ran side-by-side for several laps before Roderick prevailed. He then had to hold off the 14-year-old Burton on a restart with 10 laps to go, but Burton spun his tires and fell back to fifth.
“That was wild,” Roderick said in victory lane. “That was probably one of the most exciting races in a while here. Lots of action tonight.”
A lot of that action involved Roderick as he had to deal with the late race restarts, but he also was involved in an incident that resulted in a spin by defending series champion Bubba Pollard as the two battled for second with 14 laps to go.
“I think he just pinched me down there enough to where we both got loose and he spun out,” Roderick said of the incident with Pollard. “I was lucky to save the car there. I about did all I could to save it.”
Roderick wasn’t heard from much in the first 75 circuits of the race. Chad Finley and Burton dominated most of the race and waged a fierce battle before Finley started to fade. Burton appeared to be in control until Pollard spun.
Burton took the inside lane on the ensuing restart, but Roderick was able to clear Burton off of turn two to take the lead. Just a couple laps later the yellow flag waved once again, and that would be the caution that cost Burton the race.
“Restarts were really tough tonight,” Burton said. “The restart box is really wide here. They’ll bring you down slow and then slowly roll to the gas and it’s hard to predict when that’s going to happen. I just spun my tires there and messed up.”
Burton fell back to fifth and eventually dropped another spot, finishing the night in the sixth position.
While Finley, Burton, Roderick and Pollard fought up front, many were watching the 2013 Southern Super Series champion, Daniel Hemric, as he fought his way through the field.
Just before the race began Hemric’s car refused to stay running. The team discovered an issue with the fuel pump so they changed the part. To do so, Hemric’s car was removed from the impound area, forcing him to start at the rear of the field instead of sixth.
He gained 11 spots in the first 10 laps of the race. Hemric made his way into third with about 30 laps to go and it appeared that no one would hold him back until he slowed rapidly just five laps later. He brought his car to pit road on lap 81 and was done for the night.
“I got to third and started riding,” Hemric said. “All of a sudden I lost all feeling in the front tires. I’m not sure if we broke a rack or what, but we’ll change it and we’ll go onto Mobile tomorrow.”
Whether or not Hemric could have beaten Roderick will not be known. What is known is that Roderick took home his third career Southern Super Series victory and first career win in the Blizzard Series, a four-race Super Late Model series at Five Flags held in conjunction with the Southern Super Series events at the half-mile oval.
Roderick was ecstatic with the win and he showed it by pounding the roof of his car in victory lane in celebration.
“I built this car over the winter about two years ago now and it’s been such a struggle to get the handling right,” Roderick said. “It was just me for a year and a half doing it by myself and learning how the car reacts to things. I didn’t have enough knowledge to keep doing it by myself. Ricky Turner (crew chief) came on board and he’s really helped us out.”
Now the Southern Super Series heads down the road to the Mobile International Speedway in Alabama on Saturday for the second night of the Gulf Coast doubleheader and Roderick couldn’t be happier about that.
“I’m excited,” Roderick said. “I’m really looking forward to it after a strong run tonight. I think we’ll be strong tomorrow night.”
To replay the Speed51.com Trackside Now coverage of the Rubber & Specialties 100 at Five Flags, click here.
For ticket information and more on the Mobile 100 Southern Super Series/Miller Lite Series event Saturday night at Mobile International Speedway, visit www.mobilespeedway.net
For more information on the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco head to SouthernSuperSeries.com, and follow the series on Twitter (@SoSuperSeries) and Like it on Facebook (www.facebook.com/southernsuperseries.
– 51 Sports / Southern Super Series press release
– Photo credit: Speed51.com
Southern Super Series 100
Five Flags Speedway, Pensacola, Florida
|22||5DW||Dominque Van Wieringen|
|25||39||Friday Hassler, Jr.|