The seeds of Late Model racing’s newest rivalry were planted Saturday in Montgomery.
While battling for the lead late in the running of the Memorial 100, Casey Roderick and Augie Grill made contact, sending Grill hard into the outside wall and ultimately sending Roderick to victory lane.
“We are going into one, and the next thing I know I get hit on the right side…and I was ahead of him,” Roderick said. “Whatever happened there – with him spinning out – I hate that happened. I wanted to race him for the win, but we went after the same piece of real estate. Unfortunately, he got the bad end of it.”
After reviewing tape of the incident for several minutes, race officials made the call to not penalize Roderick, and allow him to maintain the race lead.
“Going off of what I saw on tape, Casey held his line,” said Montgomery race director Nicholas Rogers. “He may have made a slightly higher entry than he had previously, but I saw nothing out of the ordinary continuous arc in to the corner. Augie made his arc into the corner, and they made slight contact. There was nothing malicious, and the 18 (Roderick) did nothing outside the lines of normal racing.”
The lap prior to the incident, Roderick gave Grill a shot in the left rear three times, letting Grill know he was there.
The normally-popular Roderick was met with a handful of catcalls and jeers as he emerged from his car in victory lane. The Montgomery crowd gathered Saturday was, as most are, a pro-Grill contingent.
Racing for the win at Montgomery is nothing new for the duo.
The pair has combined for dozens of feature wins and championships at Alabama’s House of Speed. But the rough nature of their run in on Saturday added a new twist to their racing dynamic.
Just a month ago, Grill and Roderick dueled one another for the win at Montgomery. In the opening race of the year in March, Roderick took advantage of mechanical issues for Grill and won.
Roderick’s car owner, Ronnie Sanders, is a tried and true believer in GARC chassis. Those chassis are made in the Alabama shop of…you guessed it, Augie Grill.
“We buy our race cars from him,” Roderick said. “We do a lot of business and spend a lot of money with him. Actually, we just bought a brand-new car from him. It’s tough racing against the guy who builds your race cars, but we are racing for the same win.”
The late-race tangle with Grill shouldn’t overshadow Roderick’s achievement Saturday.
At 2:15 p.m., Roderick was sitting in the infield at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville and officials made the decision to postpone their event. The Ronnie Sanders crew loaded up the car, and jetted down I-65 and arrived at Montgomery at 6:45 p.m.
Roderick started on the tail the field, but worked his way from 21st to second in 48 laps. The second half of the race saw Grill and Roderick wage battle door-to-door for several laps on numerous restarts. The decisive battle, and subsequent contact, between the pair occurred with eight laps to go.
Roderick edged Christopher Tullis, who also made the mid-afternoon haul from Nashville, on a green-white-checkered finish to get the seventh win of the season.
“This is number seven for us,” Roderick said. “I’m having the time of my life. Honestly, I wish I would’ve had this success about five or six years ago. I am fortunate to have this opportunity with Ronnie, and look to make the best of it.”
Trackside Now coverage from Saturday's race can be found by clicking here.
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent - Twitter: @RyanLMcCollough
-Photo credit: Speed51.com