Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Casey Roderick Wins Chaotic Baby Rattler 125 That Results in Surprises on the Podium

Casey Roderick has won dozens of races in his the Ronnie Sanders Pro Late Model. He scored his first win in the Baby Rattler at South Alabama Speedway on March 16, 2019. (Daniel Vining/PixelatedSPEED)

By: Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining

OPP, Alabama (March 19, 2019) -- Sometimes you have to be both lucky and good to win a race. On Saturday, March 16th, Casey Roderick was indeed both lucky and good by having a competent racecar and being fortunate enough to avoid the late race chaos to come away with a massive victory in the Baby Rattler 125 Pro Late Model race at South Alabama Speedway.

Roderick started on the outside pole, but faded early with an ill-handling car. In a race that normally would not require it, Roderick brought his machine to the attention of the crew for adjustments during one of the race’s many cautions.

That move, and the moves made to avoid getting collected in the chaos created by leaders Bubba Pollard and Connor Okrzesik, allowed Roderick to emerge victorious in the prelude event to the 43rd Annual Ratter 250.

“I was worried about the car getting tight on me, and it did,” said Roderick. “It got real tight where I couldn’t do nothing with it. The front end wasn’t in the racetrack… I’d go into the corner and it’d wash up. I was having to do a lot of footwork, a lot of hand work and forcing the car where I needed it to go. You kill your tires doing that and I was killing them.”

“We had that caution there, and there was only a few cars behind us and I said dang we ain’t got nothing to lose so let’s come in a try and make an adjustment to try and make it better.”

“We made a couple of adjustments and went back out and it was a totally different race car. It wasn’t the best, but it was a lot better than what we were and we were able to progress after that.”

“Got ourselves in position with those last few cautions to sit third and be in position for what happened with the leaders in front of us when we took advantage and went underneath them.”

The surprise on the podium went to Kyle McCallum, who finished second in the event.

“People were being a little too aggressive to start with,” said McCallum. “It’s a long race and really no need to push it until 50 to go but that’s how it is at a lot of these places.

“Finishing second in this race is great. We’ve struggled a lot, especially the last three or four years so hopefully this is a step in the right direction.”

Also finding his way through the chaos, third place Jack Dossey III was a strong contender throughout the race. Dossey led several laps, and was in the top five all night, being in the right position to capitalize on the follies of the leaders ahead of him.

“I saw things getting kinda dicey and wanted to lay back and lay in the weeds, kinda fly under the radar,” said Dossey. “I knew it was gonna get they way with ten to go.

“I think we about a fifth place car. I don’t think we had anything for Bubba Pollard, but I think we had a really strong race car. He’s in his own league… that’s expected, he’s the best in the country and that’s what he’s supposed to do.

The start of the race saw Patrick Lutillipe and Justin South lead, with South putting up a convincing performance early. The second stint of the race saw Jack Dossey take the point. It wasn’t long, however, before Bubba Pollard and polesitter Connor Okrzesik rose to the top, beginning what became a very chaotic sequence of events. Pollard was very strong, but Okrzesik hounded Pollard, getting right up to his bumper many times.

Warnings from race control about jumping restarts, and games being played by the leading duo led to an eruption in turn four during the final ten laps as the Pollard and Okrzesik tangled. The incident meant the end of the race for both, and collected early frontrunner Justin South in the process.

In the fallout of the drama in turn four, a furious Bubba Pollard emerged from his car and proceeded to confront lead technical inspector Ricky Brooks, who had stationed himself in turn four to watch the restarts.

Pollard objected to Okrzesik not being penalized sooner for jumping restarts, though race control had warned that both drivers were in jeopardy of receiving the black flag just prior to the turn four contact.

At the end of the night, Casey Roderick came out on top, surviving perhaps the most interesting show of the weekend.

And yes, Roderick gladly posed with the rattlesnake in victory lane.

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