One of the most potent combinations in all of short track racing will be making the trip to the mountains of eastern Tennessee for the 3rd Annual Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway. After skipping out on the race the first two years, Georgia’s Casey Roderick will make the trip north with Ronnie Sanders Racing to compete in the 100-lap Super Late Model portion at “The Last Great Colosseum.”
The defending Southern Super Series champion has had his share of misfortune to start 2019. His wins in the Pro Late Model portion of SpeedFest and the Baby Rattler have been a bright spot in a season where he has suffered early exits in the Southern Super Series' first two races, the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway and the Blizzard Series opener at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
After winning the title last year while skipping the U.S. Short Track Nationals, the decision to race at Bristol came in part of his chase to become the first-ever two-time Southern Series Champion. He and the Ronnie Sanders Racing team were also looking for a race that’s different from what they’re accustomed to competing in.
“We’re running for the points in the Southern Super Series, going to try to win that deal again,” Roderick told Speed51.com. “It’s definitely taking a chance on tearing up a race car, but hopefully it all goes well and we escape from there damage-free, but it’ll be a pretty cool experience. With all the races we’ve run over the last three years, it would be something different and something pretty cool, so we decided we were going to go and try to see what we can do.”
Racing at “The Last Great Colosseum” has always been a dream for Roderick. Though it isn’t in the upper levels of NASCAR, he is excited to live out his dream of competing at the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway. He says the risk of tearing up a race car is worth fulfilling the dream.
“I’ve always liked watching races at Bristol and have dreamed of racing there as a kid,” he said. “Not at the level I’m racing at, but with the opportunity to be able to do that racing a Late Model would be pretty cool. I definitely think that these cars are on the edge of being not able to run there, just how they’re built. You take a hit there and your car’s hurt. There’s definitely some risk involved, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’ve dreamed of racing there as a kid and I’ve been there several times to watch Cup races and to finally race on it.”
With having not been to Bristol the first two editions of the U.S. Short Track Nationals, Roderick has sought advice from those that have made the trip to eastern Tennessee in the past. Overall, he is approaching Bristol just like any other race he attends.
“The biggest thing is the cars load up so hard there," explained Roderick. "Everything that you’ve done at all these other places are kind of along the same lines of what we’re doing, but just a little bit different here and there. That’s going to be the biggest thing in practice, just getting a good balance on the car and keeping it from hitting the racetrack and making sure it’s underneath you good.”
With a new track and one like he has never seen behind the wheel, Roderick’s goal remains the same as it always does. He hopes to get his car to where it needs to be in practice and stay out of trouble throughout the race and end the night with a sword in victory lane.
“Win, that’s always our goal, is to win," said Roderick. "It’s the only thing that we go for. Do my best in practice to get a car the way I need it and hopefully have a good car in the race.”
Race fans unable to make the trip to Thunder Valley for the Short Track U.S. Nationals can watch Roderick via Speed51's pay-per-view broadcast of the event. Click here to order your video ticket today for the event on June 1.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI) - Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo