The 2014 version of The Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway was a wild race that saw contenders drop out along the way to the finish with Casey Roderick surviving all the mayhem to take the victory. On Sunday, Roderick is hoping to duplicate that performance during the Southern Super Series season opener and become just the second driver to ever win the race two years in a row.
"That was the first race I'd won in a few years," Roderick told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. "I've only ran a couple handfuls of races the last four years. It was real special and it would mean a lot (to win it again). I'd be the second driver to ever do that, with Wayne Willard, so that would be pretty cool."
While some of the contenders like Bubba Pollard, Daniel Hemric, Ross Kenseth and TJ Reaid tangled with each other or had mechanical issues, Roderick avoided it all. But that's not to say that Roderick lucked into the victory. He led 45 laps en route to the win.
"All the big races are survival races," Roderick said. "In the shorter races people tend to hang in there. But in the longer races you have to be there for the last lap. I think as long as you get yourself in position to be there at the end, you have a shot at winning it. You've just got to be there at the end."
Roderick said he's planning on running the full schedule with the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco in 2015. He believes that a strong performance at the Rattler could give him enough momentum to carry through the season and possibly compete for his first touring series championship.
"A big win like that would definitely set us up for the rest of the year and give us momentum," said Roderick. "If you take last year, it put us in the points lead because it was the first race and we won. That set up the whole year for a good opportunity to stay in the top three or four in points for the whole season. That's big when you get near the end of the season. Unfortunately we had a mishap that took us out."
The 22-year-old Georgia driver had a penchant for big wins last season. In addition to his Rattler victory, he also took home the trophy from the World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park (GA). That has him confident as he tries to defend his Rattler win.
"We're not going to be easy to overtake down there, that's for sure," he said. "I'm not going to make it easy on anybody. I've got a lot to prove."
One year ago, Roderick experienced the post-race tradition of having a six-foot rattlesnake held inches away from his face in Rattler 250 victory lane. But will that make it any easier for him if he manages to win the event for a second straight year and is forced to face the snake again?
"You could probably tell in some of those pictures that I was a little bit weary having the snake a couple inches from my head," he said. "It wasn't too bad. It was just when they got it up close and the thing started rattling a little bit.
"But shoot I wouldn't mind it again. That means we're in victory lane so I'd do it again."
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com