Posted: Sunday, August 10th 2014 at 3:30am
Last lap pass gives Roderick World Crown 300 victory
By Joe VanHoose
Casey Roderick earned the right to wear the crown in Victory Lane at Gresham Motorsports Park Saturday night with a win in the World Crown 300. / Photo: Terry Spackman
JEFFERSON, GA – Casey Roderick didn’t think he had a shot to win the World Crown 300 Saturday night at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA. That job was meant for racers like two-time Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill or Southern Super Series points leader Bubba Pollard, not a guy from Lawrenceville, Georgia who hadn’t had much track time the last few years.
Grill and Pollard led the majority of the race and, at times, looked to be running on a different race track with speeds that no one else in the 26-car field could keep up with.
But Roderick was good enough to lead one lap – the last one.
Roderick employed the bump and run and muscled his way by Kyle Grissom on the final turn to win Georgia’s only crown jewel event for Super Late Models. Rookie Harrison Burton finished third, with Daniel Hemric and Jeff Choquette rounding out the top five.
Although Roderick drove the last 10 laps of the 300-lap race with a manifest destiny reserved only for Americans searching for the Pacific, he still found himself surprised to be standing in victory lane with a king’s robe and crown.
“That’s one of the hardest races I’ve ever driven. That was tough,” Roderick said. “It was a fight. I mean, I thought Hemric or (Pollard) would have won.”
Hemric, Pollard and Grill all had their hands on the Crown at different points during marathon of a race, a race that went on in dry conditions while thunderstorms blanketed the surrounding areas.
Grill grabbed the lead on lap 17 and checked out for most of the next 200 laps. He overcame slow pit stops, dodged a stream of on-track incidents that wiped out three quarters of the field over time, and quickly dismissed anyone who dared to use different pit strategies to get track position.
Only Anderson Bowen could keep pace, but his gamble to give up track position to pit for fresh tires came to nil on lap 176. Scotty Ellis and Daniel Keene, Jr. spun as the field entered turn 3 and blocked the track, collecting Will Gallaher and Bowen in the process. Even Roderick caught a piece of the crash, but he was able to continue with minor body damage.
As for Grill, he simply outran everything on the track – including his car’s own engine, which started to fail on lap 238. Grill slid high up on the track in turn 3 and bounced off the wall, ultimately handing the lead over to Pollard and Hemric to battle for. Grill parked his car in the pits for good on lap 246.
Grill’s heartbreak created Pollard’s opportunity. The Georgian who finished second in the 2012 and 2013 World Crown 300s now found himself out front with a chance to finally break through and win the race that has eluded him.
And then his chance went down with the left-front tire on his car. After fighting with his car and its softening tire for a few laps and losing the lead to Hemric, Pollard went straight into the turn 1 wall on lap 291.
This set up a 10-lap shootout with just four cars on the lead lap: Hemric, Grissom, Burton and Roderick.
On the restart, Grissom, the race’s polesitter, gave Hemric more of a fight than he could handle. Grissom washed up the race track in turns 1 and 2 and grinded his way past Hemric, who then lost second to Roderick and third to Burton.
Roderick drove in Grissom’s tire tracks during the remaining laps, and a strong run off turn 2 on the final lap gave Roderick a choice to make.
So Roderick drove into turn 3 with enough force that he shoved Grissom up the track and out of the top spot. Grissom was just the latest leader who seemed to have the race won – only to see it taken away.
“If that’s the way (Roderick) wants it, he can have it; that’s pretty embarrassing,” Grissom said afterward. “He had to seek it in there pretty good to get me. He all but turned me.”
Roderick didn’t see his move that way.
“I don’t know how y’all saw it, but I thought it was a heck of a race there,” Roderick said, and he should know. The 22-year-old is young but well-traveled in his racing career, a career that was already taking off again after a win in the Rattler 250 earlier this year.
Now, he can add a Crown to his resume.
Gresham Motorsports Park - Jefferson, GA
World Crown 300 - Aug. 9, 2014
1. 7 Casey Roderick
2. 31 Kyle Grissom
3. 12 Harrison Burton
4. 98H Daniel Hemric
5. 29 Jeff Choquette
6. 26B Bubba Pollard
7. 15 Ron Young
8. 54 Matt Craig
9. 37 Brian Hoar
10. 112 Augie Grill
11. 26P Preston Peltier
12. 129 Spencer Davis
13. 51 Stephen Nase
14. 83 Scotty Ellis
15. 29B Anderson Bowen
16. 5K Daniel Keene, Jr.
17. 5G Will Gallaher
18. 198 Russell Fleeman
19. 2W Donnie Wilson
20. 23 Dalton Grindle
21. 68 Landon Cling
22. 47K Allen Karnes
23. 36 Rodney Benefield
24. 75 David Odell
25. 5W Spencer Wauters
26. 43 Dennis Schoenfeld
Link: Gresham Motorsports Park
Link: Southern Super Series
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