CASEY RODERICK WINS! August 16, 2010) - Casey Roderick, who turned 18 just eight days ago, took a giant step in his young racing career on Sunday. The Lawrenceville, Ga. driver scored his biggest racing triumph ever by winning the Garden...
CASEY RODERICK WINS!
August 16, 2010) - Casey Roderick, who turned 18 just eight days ago, took a giant step in his young racing career on Sunday. The Lawrenceville, Ga. driver scored his biggest racing triumph ever by winning the Garden State 150 presented by the American Red Cross at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The former Legends champion who is now part of Bill Elliott's Driver Development program became the 11th first-time winner on the ARCA circuit this season.
And he had to overcome adversity to do it. When he fired up his No. 51 Phoenix Racing/Bill Elliott Racing Dodge on Sunday morning, he'd had only a limited amount of experience on a 2.25-mile road course he'd never seen before this past weekend other than on the YouTube videos he studied beforehand.
"We blew a motor after four laps of practice Saturday, so Lap One [of the race] was like I was blindfolded," Roderick said. "I didn't know what was going to happen."
Roderick started at the rear of the field as a result of not having a new motor in the car in time to qualify. Wheeling in and out of the "S" turns, around other cars down straightaways and around sharp turns Roderick had moved into 10th position by Lap Six of the 67-lap/150-mile race.
Roderick's quick advance caused crew chief Jim Barfield to abandon his initial pit strategy.
"I had planned to stop as soon as we could to get track position," Barfield said. "But Casey was moving up so fast I had to change my strategy to pit with the leaders almost as soon as the race began." Caution was displayed on the field on Lap Seven, and on the restart, Roderick gained two more positions. By Lap 12 he was up to the seventh position and just eight seconds behind the leader Justin Marks, an ARCA regular.
By lap 15 Roderick was up to the fifth position behind Marks, Tim George Jr., Tom Hessert and Chris Buescher. Roderick maintained his position, but his advance was slowed by excessive tire wear from his hard charge from the rear.
Still on the move, Roderick was gaining on Buescher for the fourth position. The two youngsters [18 and 17 years old] teamed up and passed Hessert who was in the third position just as Marks, the leader, pitted on Lap 28 and relinquishing the lead to George.
That put Roderick in the third position just before he made a pit stop at Lap 29 for four fresh tires and fuel. An excellent stop by his pit crew put Roderick back out in front of Buescher and back on the speedway in the ninth position overall. By lap 33 Roderick was back to fourth position behind leader Hessert who had still not pitted and ran out of fuel on lap 33. Roderick's charge caught the attention of the radio broadcasters covering the race, and they informed their audience of Roderick's strong run in just his third ARCA start. In those three starts, he'd already had a pole, a runner-up finish and was leading when he broke a transmission at Palm Beach, Fla.
And he wasn't through giving them things to talk about. Roderick stopped for fuel on lap 41, and on the restart with 25 laps to go, he was in second place behind Tim George Jr.
On the restart, Roderick was shuffled back to fourth position behind George, Dakoda Armstrong, and Joey Coulter. On Lap 45 Roderick took third back from Armstrong on the inside line as they went through Turns Eight and Nine. He grabbed second place from Coulter on Lap 49.
Several ensuing caution periods set up a nine-lap sprint to the finish. Roderick and George collided in Turn Two, sending George and Armstrong off the track, while Roderick drove away.
Roderick described the contact as "unintentional." "I was too close to him going into the corner, he braked, and then I was in it," Roderick said. "He had a good race car and did an awesome job to be there in the lead."
Coulter took the lead, with Roderick giving pursuit. Roderick passed Coulter on Lap 60, then slipped off the track. But one lap later, he closed the deal when Coulter wheel-hopped his car, allowing both Roderick and Buescher to pass.
"That was fun with Chris Buescher," Roderick said. "I've raced with him for several years, including in Legends cars every time. We race hard, and it felt good to race him again. We beat and banged, but that's part of racing. "The young talent in ARCA is pretty good right now."
A final caution flag set up the race's last green flag start at Lap 65, and Roderick pulled away to a lead of more than two seconds by the time the checkered flag flew.
Roderick's mentor and car owner Bill Elliott was driving the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford in the Sprint Cup race at Michigan at the same time as Roderick's race, but he was quick to call with his congratulations.
"That was pretty incredible," Elliott said. "He never had even been there before. Passing all of those cars on a road course...I'm impressed.
"I just hope someone else out there with the financial backing to help Casey is as impressed as me."
For his part, Roderick was simply savoring the moment.
-source: bill elliott's race development