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Roderick Charges to Second SLM Challenge Triumph In a Row

Special from Speed51.com – A poor qualifying effort led to a sensational charge, as Casey Roderick stormed through a stout field at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville to win the North/South Super Late Model Challenge for the second straight year.

 

Roderick started 20th in a 36-car field of some of the finest Super Late Model drivers in the country, but raced his way to the front of the field in the 100-lap event.

 

“Man, I am so pumped,” Roderick said in victory lane. “We’ve had some bad luck with these Super [Late Model] races. It’s a brand-new race car, it had 30 laps on it when we showed up today. I just want to thank Fury Race Cars and everybody at their facility to give me the opportunity to come up to their shop and build this race car for two weeks.”

 

Roderick struggled to find speed in the early stages of the race, but made a mid-race adjustment that precipitated his fight to the lead.

 

“The car felt decent, it just wasn’t fast,” said Roderick. “I was struggling a little bit to start with, getting off the corner. It came to me, and I started rolling the center really good. That’s where I started making up my time. I wasn’t necessarily getting off the corner better, just rolling the center better.”

 

In the end, Roderick outdueled NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor and dirt modified standout Stewart Friesen, taking the lead on a lap 87 restart.

 

“I’ve watched him on TV a good bit here lately, running good in the Truck Series,” Roderick said of Friesen. “He deserves to be up there, he’s a heck of a wheelman. I was just happy to be able to go toe-to-toe with him and come out on the good end.”

 

Friesen, piloting car number 112 in homage to Gary Balough, settled for second after a strong run.

 

“These guys did a great job preparing this race car,” Friesen told Speed51.com. “It’s super cool to bring back the 112 in tribute to Gary. Great mentor and a great friend of mine. I’m definitely bummed about second, but we were there and we were close. I kind of screwed up that last restart.”

 

Johnny VanDoorn rounded out the podium, finishing third. VanDoorn set the fastest time in qualifying, but started sixth after a re-draw.

 

“It was a good day for us,” said VanDoorn. “Got the pole in a brand new car. Come out here with speed right out of the gate. Just too little, too late. We knew there’d be extreme tire fall-off so we were just trying to babysit the tires a little bit. It almost worked out for us, but we lost a little bit on that last restart. By the time I got clear, those guys were too far out. Wish we had a few more laps, but that’s how racing goes.”

 

Josh Brock was the standout from the first two-thirds of the event, starting on the pole and leading the majority of the first 60 laps. Brock faded to fifth at the end after losing the lead to Friesen on lap 69, but came away proud of the result.

 

“We thought we saved and saved for the end,” Brock said. “Apparently, we didn’t save enough. We’re going to take this to Toledo, kick the season off right, and go after this championship.”

 

The result is particularly rewarding for Brock as he returns to action after a fight with cancer. Brock started last season in the ARCA/CRA Super Series with several strong runs, including a fifth-place finish in this event. However, the diagnosis ended his 2017 title hopes, and running up front in his return to the driver’s seat after receiving a clean bill of health was the main objective.

 

“Last year we had a good season, just took off,” Brock said. “We were the points leader and found out in August I had non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer. The doctors said, ‘you’re done, you’ve got to get healed up.’ That was our battle cry. We fought through it. On January 1st, I found out I was cancer-free. This is the beginning of our year. They definitely know we’re back, and that’s all that matters.”

 

For fans unable to watch the North/South Super Late Model Challenge, visit our Trackside Now coverage of the event for live updates, or watch the race in its entirety on-demand from our pay-per-view broadcast of the event.

 

-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ZTEvans

-Photo Credit: Speed51.com

 

North/South SLM Challenge

Unofficial Results:

Pos      #          Driver

1          18        Casey Roderick

2          112      Stewart Friesen

3          71        Johnny VanDoorn

4          18g      Noah Gragson

5          17        Josh Brock

6          07        Corey LaJoie

7          51n      Stephen Nasse

8          7          Paul Shafer Jr

9          14f       Jared Fryar

10        14        Carson Hocevar

11        78        Corey Heim

12        66        Logan Bearden

13        00        Anthony Cataldi

14        41        Hunter Jack

15        14x      Connor Okrzesik

16        36        Dan Fredrickson

17        6w       Matt Wallace

18        2          Darrell Gilchrist

19        51        Raphael Lessard

20        1          Jon Beach

21        16        Molly Helmuth

22        47        Allen Karnes

23        29        Austin Kunert

24        26a      Willie Allen

25        114      Preston Bores

26        98        Justin Ashburn

27        46        Cole Williams

28        12        David Green

29        6          Logan Runyon

30        58        Tyler Ankrum

31        66w     Steve Wallace

32        5          Mason Mingus

33        26        Bubba Pollard

34        2w       Donnie Wilson

35        53        Boris Jurkovic

36        81        Tristan VanWeiringen