NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A poor qualifying effort led to a sensational charge, as Casey Roderick stormed through a stout field at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville to win the North/South Super Late Model Challenge for the second straight year.
The Lawrenceville, Georgia native started 20th in a 36-car field of some of the finest Super Late Model drivers in the country, but raced his way to the front of the field in the 100-lap event.
“Man, I am so pumped,” Roderick said in victory lane. “We’ve had some bad luck with these Super (Late Model) races. It’s a brand-new race car, it had 30 laps on it when we showed up today. I just want to thank Fury Race Cars and everybody at their facility to give me the opportunity to come up to their shop and build this race car for two weeks.”
Roderick struggled to find speed in the early stages of the race, but made a mid-race adjustment that precipitated his fight to the lead.
“The car felt decent, it just wasn’t fast,” said Roderick. “I was struggling a little bit to start with, getting off the corner. It came to me, and I started rolling the center really good. That’s where I started making up my time. I wasn’t necessarily getting off the corner better, just rolling the center better.”
In the end, Roderick outdueled NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor and dirt modified standout Stewart Friesen, taking the lead on a lap 87 restart.
“I’ve watched him on TV a good bit here lately, running good in the Truck Series,” Roderick said of Friesen. “He deserves to be up there, he’s a heck of a wheelman. I was just happy to be able to go toe-to-toe with him and come out on the good end.”
Friesen, piloting car number 112 in homage to Gary Balough, settled for second after a strong run.
“These guys did a great job preparing this race car,” Friesen told Speed51.com. “It’s super cool to bring back the 112 in tribute to Gary. Great mentor and a great friend of mine. I’m definitely bummed about second, but we were there and we were close. I kind of screwed up that last restart.”
Johnny VanDoorn rounded out the podium, finishing third. VanDoorn set the fastest time in qualifying, but started sixth after a re-draw.
“It was a good day for us,” said VanDoorn. “Got the pole in a brand new car. Come out here with speed right out of the gate. Just too little, too late. We knew there’d be extreme tire fall-off so we were just trying to babysit the tires a little bit. It almost worked out for us, but we lost a little bit on that last restart. By the time I got clear, those guys were too far out. Wish we had a few more laps, but that’s how racing goes.”
Josh Brock was the standout from the first two-thirds of the event, starting on the pole and leading the majority of the first 60 laps. Brock faded to fifth at the end after losing the lead to Friesen on lap 69, but came away proud of the result.
“We thought we saved and saved for the end,” Brock said. “Apparently, we didn’t save enough. We’re going to take this to Toledo, kick the season off right, and go after this championship.”
The result is particularly rewarding for Brock as he returns to action after a fight with cancer. Brock started last season in the ARCA/CRA Super Series with several strong runs, including a fifth-place finish in this event. However, the diagnosis ended his 2017 title hopes, and running up front in his return to the driver’s seat after receiving a clean bill of health was the main objective.
“Last year we had a good season, just took off,” Brock said. “We were the points leader and found out in August I had non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer. The doctors said, ‘you’re done, you’ve got to get healed up.’ That was our battle cry. We fought through it. On January 1st, I found out I was cancer-free. This is the beginning of our year. They definitely know we’re back, and that’s all that matters.”
The Southern Super Series will be back in action on April 27 at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway. For more information, visit SouthernSuperSeries.com.
Southern Super Series / ARCA/CRA Super Series
Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville – Nashville, TN
North/South SLM Challenge – April 7, 2018
1. 18 Casey Roderick
2. 112 Stewart Friesen
3. 71 Johnny VanDoorn
4. 18g Noah Gragson
5. 17 Josh Brock
6. 07 Corey LaJoie
7. 51n Stephen Nasse
8. 7 Paul Shafer, Jr.
9. 14f Jared Fryar
10. 14 Carson Hocevar
11. 78 Corey Heim
12. 66 Logan Bearden
13. 00 Anthony Cataldi
14. 41 Hunter Jack
15. 14x Connor Okrzesik
16. 36 Dan Fredrickson
17. 6w Matt Wallace
18. 2 Darrell Gilchrist
19. 51 Raphael Lessard
20. 1 Jon Beach
21. 16 Molly Helmuth
22. 47 Allen Karnes
23. 29 Austin Kunert
24. 26a Willie Allen
25. 114 Preston Bores
26. 98 Justin Ashburn
27. 46 Cole Williams
28. 12 David Green
29. 6 Logan Runyon
30. 58 Tyler Ankrum
31. 66w Steve Wallace
32. 5 Mason Mingus
33. 26 Bubba Pollard
34. 2w Donnie Wilson
35. 53 Boris Jurkovic
36. 81 Tristan VanWeiringen