A SOLID TOP TEN AT IOWA DAWSONVILLE, Ga. (July 12, 2010) - Casey Roderick, the up-and-coming driver from Lawrenceville, Ga., who is part of Bill Elliott's Driver Development program, kicked off his five-race ARCA tour with a solid ...
A SOLID TOP TEN AT IOWA
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. (July 12, 2010) - Casey Roderick, the up-and-coming driver from Lawrenceville, Ga., who is part of Bill Elliott's Driver Development program, kicked off his five-race ARCA tour with a solid seventh-place finish against a strong field of contenders in Saturday's Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway.
Roderick and the Bill Elliott team started the season running a mix of Late Model and ARCA races, but changed directions in late May to focus on the ARCA events as they will provide Roderick with TV exposure as well as the big-track experience he'll need to step up to NASCAR's elite divisions. But the change also meant the team had some catching up to do, as team owner Bill Elliott explained.
"A lot goes in to the preparation of these cars, and it takes a lot of time and focus to come into the middle of a season in a class that is as strong as ARCA is today and run competitively," Elliott said. "I am proud of the effort that everyone put forward and feel like we came away with the knowledge we need to go to the next event even stronger."
Roderick's team also had to deal with a last-minute crew chief change as regular crew chief Jim Barfield's mother passed away suddenly just as the team was preparing to leave for Iowa.
Ricky Turner, Chase Elliott's crew chief, filled in for Barfield, while young Elliott took over the spotter's duties, replacing his father who was running the Wood Brothers' No. 21 Ford in the Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Despite having no crew members with experience at the Iowa track, Roderick immediately put the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Dodge in the top ten on the practice speeds chart and maintained his presence among 40 drivers there during both practice sessions. Roderick and Turner worked through changes to the chassis set-up, trying combinations for qualifying and for the race.
Roderick qualified and started 19th. By Lap 14 he was up to 12th and challenging ARCA regulars Mikey Kile and Chris Buescher for the 11th and 10th positions. By Lap 34 he was in the top 10, and when the caution flag flew on Lap 39, he radioed to his crew that he was very pleased with his car. Roderick and Turner discussed possible improvements should they make a pit stop, but the two decided to stay on the track, and in doing so gained three positions.
By the restart on Lap 45 there were only 17 drivers on the lead lap. Roderick was racing in a group of strong competitors and passed Grant Enfinger and Ty Dillon while being passed himself and was in the sixth position when caution was displayed for the second time due to a crash by Steve Arpin.
Roderick brought the No. 51 down pit road for a fuel-only pit stop. As Roderick was approaching his pit he took the car out of gear and lost power. The crew pushed him to restart and Roderick, apologized saying the mistake was his fault. Immediately, Turner came on the radio, saying "Clear your head and be sharp. We didn't lose anything."
Roderick restarted 13th and moved back and forth between there and the 11th position for the next several laps. Nearing the 75th lap, Turner reported to Roderick that some drivers had to make green-flag pit stops due to tire wear and the absence of cautions. Roderick had moved into the 10th position as a result when he reported a vibration to the team. Timing worked to Roderick's advantage when a caution, brought out by Joey Gase on Lap 87, gave him the opportunity to pit under caution for tires which would ultimately correct the vibration issue. Now out of sequence with some of the drivers that pitted under green, Roderick restarted 13th. By the half way mark at Lap 100 Roderick had worked his way back up to the ninth position.
On lap 115 Turner asked Roderick how his car was. Roderick replied, "Really good." He continued to pass drivers, working his way into the sixth position by Lap 138 while racing around Frank Kimmel and Dillon for the next two positions. By Lap 151 Roderick had worked his way into the top five with Tom Hessert leading Enfinger, Matt Crafton, Kimmel and Roderick.
Caution was displayed on Lap 152, and Roderick pitted for scuffed tires and restarted in the seventh position. There were 42 laps left at the waving of the green flag. Roderick again worked his way back up into the sixth position and was battling hard with Crafton, the Camping World Truck Series veteran, for the fifth position as Armstrong was reeling them both in from behind, making it a three-way battle. Experience won out, and Roderick fell back to the seventh position as Armstrong and Crafton battled right in front of him for the remaining laps. Roderick finished with a very respectable 7th place finish.
"I want to thank Phoenix Racing and Bill Elliott Racing for helping to get everything ready and putting in a good effort," Roderick said. "I feel like we will be even better prepared for the next event. I was happy with everything. We needed longer runs. From 45 to 65 laps on the tires I really hit it.
"I know Jim [regular crew chief-Barfield] was wanting to be there, and I talked to him while I was at the track.
"Our hearts go out to Jim and his family."
Roderick's next race is the South Jersey Building Trades 150 at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
-source: bill elliott racing