Casey Roderick Scores Impressive Runner-Up Finish in ARCA Debut DAWSONVILLE, Ga. (October 12, 2009) -- Bill Elliott Racing's Casey Roderick exceeded even the highest expectations in his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway...
Casey Roderick Scores Impressive Runner-Up Finish in ARCA Debut
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. (October 12, 2009) -- Bill Elliott Racing's Casey Roderick exceeded even the highest expectations in his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway during Saturday's American 200. After starting from the rear of the field for a minor rules violation, 17-year-old Roderick drove the unsponsored No. 51 Dodge to the front and took the checkers in second place between race winner Parker Kligerman and 2009 series champion Justin Lofton in third.
"This was my first ARCA race, and what better way to start off your first race," said Roderick. "I just want to thank Bill Elliott, James Finch and all the guys that came together to make this deal happen. Finch's Nationwide (Series team) crew couldn't be here today -- but they were here with me for the test -- and we had a couple Wood Brothers (Racing) guys and, man, it was awesome.
"On the long run, we had the best car out there, I think," continued Roderick. "And track position was very crucial. There at the end on that last caution, they got together in front of me, and I got hit from behind and that got Parker (Kligerman) out front a long ways but I caught him a little bit, closed about half the gap, and that was about all I had."
Roderick, who qualified the No. 51 Dodge in third place behind Chad Finley and Lofton, started the 200-lap race from the rear of the field after a rookie mistake on pit road.
"I stopped on pit road there at the beginning of the race. I had to stop and change my (steering) wheel, which I did," Roderick explained, "and that's why I had to go to the back in the beginning. But it was good experience for me. I passed every single car on the racetrack, and it was very cool to do that."
In his first series start, Roderick settled in behind Lofton's No. 6 Toyota -- who also started from the rear due to a post-qualifying engine change -- early in the race as the two worked their way through traffic. Once he found his rhythm, Roderick moved around Lofton on lap eight and started charging to the front.
With an extended green flag run, Roderick ran lap times faster than the leaders and moved himself into the top-five on lap 67 before the first caution on lap 70.
Team owner Bill Elliott called the shots from atop the pit box and ordered a track bar adjustment and four fresh tires during the first stop -- Roderick's first experience on pit road.
Roderick came out sixth and dropped back a few positions after spinning his tires on the restart. The No. 51 Dodge took a few laps to come around with fresh tires, but by lap 106, Roderick reclaimed sixth position and moved back into the top-five three laps later.
With his sights set on championship contender Kligerman in fourth, Roderick continued to hit his marks around the one-mile track as he moved in on the No. 77.
The second caution flag waved on lap 116, and Roderick guided the No. 51 to the attention of his crew. This time the team went back on the track bar adjustment from the first stop, slapped another set of fresh Hoosiers on the No. 51, and sent Roderick out with the lead.
Roderick led the field to the green to lead his first laps in an ARCA RE/MAX Series race. After slipping back to second on the first green flag lap, Roderick recovered the lead on lap 126, just before the third caution on lap 128.
None of the leaders pitted under caution, and Roderick maintained the lead over Kligerman on the restart. By lap 135, though, the two ran nose-to-tail and Kligerman was able to move the No. 77 to the inside and around Roderick to take over the lead on lap 136.
Following a quick caution on lap 139, Roderick slipped to fourth, as the team expected, while the tires heated up.
On lap 147, the yellow waved for the fifth and final time. With just over 50 laps remaining, the team did not pit during the final caution since the No. 51 had repeatedly improved over long runs.
Following a red flag on lap 156, the field restarted on lap 159. Roderick, who sat fourth for the final restart, was among impressive company in the top-five: eight-time winner and championship contender Kligerman; Steve Arpin in the Venturini Motorsports No. 25 that won the last two races at Rockingham; nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel; and six-time winner and eventual 2009 series champion Lofton.
After a scramble on the restart, Roderick moved into second behind Kligerman and held off pressure from Lofton in third. Roderick closed the gap between himself and Kligerman in the final laps but wasn't able to make a run for the lead.
As the field took the white flag lap, Roderick avoided late-race disaster when Lofton moved the No. 6 to the inside and the two made contact. Roderick moved the No. 51 up the track, and both drivers were able to maintain control to take the checkered flag.
"I knew it was close going into turn one," said Roderick. "I probably could have given him (Lofton) a little bit more room and I hope he's not mad at me. My spotter said 'easy, easy' because he knew I was close, and I knew I was close. His right side door was inside of my window net, so once I knew he was that close, I moved up the racetrack to give him some room."
Roderick crossed the finish line 2.557 seconds behind Kligerman to finish second in his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut at Rockingham Speedway.