Casey Roderick won the inaugural ASA STARS National Super Late Model race on Saturday night at Five Flags Speedway but that was only part of the story.
The Sunshine State 200 was arguably won and lost on a restart with 30 laps to go when Preston Peltier and Dakota Stroup crashed behind the leaders. How did that affect the battle for the lead? Well, after the caution was called by race director Nicholas Rogers, leader Bubba Pollard spun on the frontstretch as a result of contact from Roderick behind him.
Pollard was sitting sideways across the track and was drilled by both Derek Kraus and Jake Finch.
Problems for the leader!
Bubba Pollard out of tonight race after this incident.
— ASA STARS National Tour (@racewithstars) March 12, 2023
Roderick went on to lead the final 30 laps, unchallenged, and was physically confronted in technical inspection after the race by Pollard. The two drivers were pulled apart after Pollard took Roderick to the ground.
Bubba Pollard blindside jumped Casey Roderick in tech and they needed to be pulled apart. pic.twitter.com/3JxAigvX9S
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverRA) March 12, 2023
Pollard was frustrated because he seemingly had the race under control, remarkably, having overcome a power steering issue that dropped him from the lead lap. Perhaps Roderick would have beat Pollard straight-up and expressed contrition over what happened instead.
“What happened was unfortunate,” Roderick said. “There was a wreck behind us, and I don’t know if he was checking up from that or if he just got a little free, but I had a lot of grip coming across the corner and just got into him and spun him out.
“I took responsibility for that and it’s just short track racing. It’s racing hard for a win, and a big win at that, and I definitely didn’t mean to do that. It’s just unfortunate.”
For his part, Pollard declined comment both after the crash and after their scuffle in the inspection shed.
It continues a rivalry that began brewing last month during the World Series of Asphalt when Pollard claimed that Roderick was driving ‘stupid’ against the Donnie Wilson Motorsports drivers. Roderick disagreed with that assertion after claiming the Speedweeks championship.
He said that it was hard driving that week, and that it was a reflection of him trying to make the most of a dream situation in driving for a super team put together by Anthony Campi and Bill Burba, and doing what it took to win races.
To that end, winning the ASA National Tour opener is a big deal for Roderick, even with the circumstances.
“We have a really good program and we just need to keep it going,” Roderick said. “We were just a little off at the beginning of the race. We made it better as the race went on. I’m proud of that.”
Typically, such contact would have resulted in a penalty for Roderick but Rogers told Short Track Scene after the race that it wasn’t a penalty because it occurred after the caution for Stroup and Peltier. Such a penalty would have benefited Jeremy Doss, whom finished second.
“It is what it is,” Doss said. “I don’t want to comment on it and burn any bridges, but happy to finish second.”
Doss very well could have been involved in the Roderick and Pollard crash too, narrowly driving to the outside of Pollard.
“Honestly, I just went high, slammed on brakes and lucky I didn’t get run into from behind,” Doss said. “A hole cleared up and I was able to throttle on up and get through. Man, I feel like we had a shot to win at the end, but stagger got shy on us and we got tight.”
The Sunshine State 200 was a race full of various controversies.
Ty Majeski finished third but had to rally from a two-lap penalty for stopping on the track under green once his hood flapped up over his windshield on a restart. Majeski, although two laps down, was the only car running not on the lead lap at the time.
He caught two cautions in seven laps and was immediately back on the lead lap where he survived to a podium.
“Hard fought weekend,” Majeski said. “We battled. We came here with something experimental, hit the abort button after practice yesterday, came back and just not a lot of practice with what we had and just battled all weekend.
“Made the best of it, a lot of attrition, and I know we didn’t have a third-place car, but I guess we had a third-place car out of the cars that were left. Up-and-down day, had radios dying and drove around with my hood up like Tommy Boy.
“Eventful, but happy to be third, I guess.”
— Reid Scott (@ReidURN) March 12, 2023
Pollard will likely face some kind of penalty from ASA officials for his inspection shed attack on Roderick, but he isn’t the only person waiting for a mid-week penalty sheet. Boris Jurkovic will also be susceptible to a penalty of some kind after throwing a fire extinguisher at Billy VanMeter as his car passed under caution.
Jurkovic spun into the wall off the nose of VanMeter.
The race featured a considerable number of cautions, including one involving reigning Snowball Derby winner Derek Thorn and fellow veteran Ryan Moore. Matt Craig dominated the early portion of the race but was involved in a crash with Stephen Nasse.
Thorn believes the race format, which routinely shuffled the deck with two tire stops, created a lot of comers and goers — leading to the crashes.
“A lot of it was just the comers and goers on the tire strategy,” Thorn said. “The tire strategy caused guys with stickers to be behind guys with old stuff. That creates chaos and different line choices. I think a lot of it is circumstance. Maybe too many competition cautions.
“But at the end of the day, the comers and goers on the different tire strategies, and it’s the first ASA race. Everyone wants to run well and it just created a lot of chaos.”
ASA STARS Sunshine State 200
Five Flags Speedway
March 11 2023
- Casey Roderick
- Jeremy Doss
- Ty Majeski
- Cole Butcher
- Carson Hocevar
- Gabe Sommers
- Austin Nason
- Jacob Gomes
- John Bolen
- Matthew Craig
- Michael Hinde
- Dan Frederickson
- Blaine Rocha
- Billy VanMeter
- Gio Ruggiero
- Jake Finch
- Albert Francis
- Hunter Robbins
- Bubba Pollard
- Preston Peltier
- Derek Kraus
- Dakota Stroup
- Derek Thorn
- Timothy Watson
- Ryan Moore
- Jett Noland
- Tony Elrod
- Stephen Nasse
- Michael Bilderback
- Connor Okrzesik
- Grant Enfinger
- Boris Jurkovic
- Dustin Smith
- Ryan Luza
- Kyle Bryant
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