Casey Roderick completed an emotional redemption arc on Sunday night at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in winning the All American 400.
For one, it was his first win in just his fifth start with his own No. 25 Rowdy Manufacturing entry under the Casey Roderick Motorsports banner.
It’s been a challenging two-year stretch for Roderick, losing two rides in two years with the closure of Graham Trucking Racing and the consolidation of Ronnie Sanders Racing and Hunter Robbins Racing. Roderick needed to join Donnie Wilson Motorsports late last year just to complete his Southern Super Series championship.
So, to break through and win one of the crown jewels in his own car, and with a ragtag group of volunteers, meant the world to Roderick and he showed every bit of that emotion in his frontstretch celebration.
Casey Roderick has gone through a lot over the last two years.
He's lost two rides, started his own team, hasn't been able to race a lot this year.
He's as excited as it gets. Dedicates win to Nick Harrison, thanks James Finch for his support.
All American 400 winner. pic.twitter.com/kR06gRQSzx
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) November 1, 2020
“It’s just getting harder and harder to make it to the race track,” Roderick said. “My will is still there. I don’t give up. I’ve wanted to win this race so bad. It’s just a matter of ‘how can I do this?’
“I’ve been trying to figure that out. I think of all the people that have been there for me leading up to this point. That’s the reason I’m here tonight: Donnie Wilson, Ronnie Sanders, the Grahams. James Finch. Everyone I’ve driven for has gotten me to this point. I feel like I used everything everyone taught me to get me here. I’m just so grateful to be here because it’s so hard to get here. I spent everything I had to make it here this week.”
And none of that includes the redemption arc that considers what happened in this race last year.
Driving for Wilson Motorsports, Roderick led 66 laps in the middle stages of the race, but lost three laps due to a pick-up issue. Under the conviction that he should have been racing for the win, Roderick interfered with leaders Mason Mingus, Boris Jurkovic and Chandler Smith — arguably costing the latter two a chance at winning the All-American 400.
Roderick passed all three over the final five laps to get one of his three laps back, but broke every unwritten code in the ethics book by not deferring to the leaders.
So naturally, the 2020 race came down to Roderick and Smith, twice swapping the lead after the final restart with 31 laps to go. Smith took the lead from Roderick in Turns 1 and 2, but surrendered it with 23 laps to go. Roderick drove away over the final 20 laps and won by 2.605 seconds.
“I knew if I stayed calm, I would pass him back,” Roderick said. “I just drove into 1 too hard and got loose on the restart. My car was free all night and I just drove in too hard trying to stop him from getting too far ahead.
“We banged doors a little bit going into 3 when I passed him back. I thought I gave him enough room.”
Roderick did, but Smith hadn’t forgotten what happened in 2019.
“This sucks, especially with what happened last year, I did not want to get beat by Casey to be completely honest with you,” Smith said. “That’s what I’m the most pissed off about. It is what it is. He’s worked hard on that race car so I have respect for him for that. On the other side of it, I remember what happened and it sucks.”
Smith has known Roderick for nearly a decade, forming a friendship with his fellow Georgian that was tested by the final laps of the 2019 All American 400. Roderick called Smith to apologize after that race, not that it took the sting away from two loses in the Civil War on Wheels.
“I don’t blame him for that,” Roderick said. “We’re racers, man. We don’t like losing. That’s my internal thoughts too.”
The win was just his second marquee race win behind the 2014 World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park, but it took some attrition to get him up front.
Derek Thorn had led from the second lap onward but was denied in dramatic fashion on a restart with 96 to go when he tangled with Carson Hocevar from the front row. Once the two drivers came together at the start-finish line, they couldn’t get off each other, sending Thorn hard into the outside retaining wall at the entrance of Turn 1.
The damage was too severe for Hocevar to overcome and sent him behind the wall as well.
“I’ll have to go back and look at the video. It felt like he just hooked us into the fence, but without looking at the video it’s hard to say,” Thorn said. “The thing was unbelievably fast. It was the best car I’ve ever had, especially here. It was our race to lose. I don’t know what the 14 did or how all that unfolded. It’s just unfortunate because we had a rocket tonight.”
Hocevar had won all three stages of the CRA Super Series Triple Crown in the Redbud 400, Money in the Bank and Winchester 400 and was right with Thorn for much of the All American 400.
“He just came up in front of me in Turn 4,” Hocevar said. “I was expecting a lane and it never came. I said on TV that I wasn’t lifting and that sounds bad like I intentionally did it, but that’s not the case. It’s late in the race, and if I lift, I lose 3 or 4 spots.
“That happened off Turn 2 earlier in the race, and I told myself I wouldn’t lift if it happened again. I think he would tell you that he threw this race away as much as I did. It’s racing, part of it.”
Roderick started sixth, and while he got some help from the Thorn-Hocevar incident, his car really came alive after a mid-race shock adjustment.
“That changed our race,” Roderick said. “We were so free on the throttle but that change gave me the confidence I needed late in the race to lean on it a little more.”
The win paid $15,000 and after spending his entire free income to start this race, the victory was welcome, as the payout will pay for his Snowball Derby efforts a month from now.
“That’s our Derby money,” Roderick said. “I have the best race car you can build but it took everything I had to get here. I’ll go on forever if I mention everyone who had a hand in getting this car ready, but they know who they are. I appreciate every last one of them. Now we’re going to go to the Derby and try to do it again.”
For the first time in history, the CARS Tour and Southern Super Series Champions were crowned at the same place and same time. Both Matt Craig and Stephen Nasse became two time champions of their select series. #AllAmerican400 @matthewcraig54 @StephenNasse pic.twitter.com/ODvUkonvAv
— CARS Tour (@CARSTour) November 2, 2020
Stephen Nasse finished third after completing an overnight detailing of his car.
“Last night, we changed both front spindles,” Nasse said. “We did an axle change. Some small things. It was hard because it wasn’t like this one obvious thing. It didn’t drive terrible. How do you pinpoint that?
“Me and my guys were scratching our heads. We just missed it, but we’ll be back and we’ll be better. I can’t wait for the (Florida Govenor’s Cup) in a few weeks.”
Nasse also earned the Southern Super Series championship by five points over Jeremy Pate with his finish.
“I love racing in that series and with (general manager) Tim Bryant,” Nasse said. “Great racing family, great family in general. We try to support as many of their races as we can and winning their championship twice is a big deal to us.
Matthew Craig was also scored CARS Tour champion at the end of the night.
The All-American was co-sanctioned by the Southern Super Series, CARS Tour, CRA Super Series and Midwest Tour.
- Casey Roderick
- Chandler Smith
- Stephen Nasse
- Donnie Wilson
- Austin Nason
- Jake Garcia
- Willie Allen
- Kodie Conner
- Connor Okrzesik
- Matt Craig
- Brittney Zamora
- Hunter Robbins
- Gabe Sommers
- Cody Dempster
- Kyle Neveau
- Jeremy Pate
- Brandon Oakley
- Corey Heim
- Trevor Cristiani
- Sammy Smith
- Carson Hocevar
- Derek Thorn
- Greg Van Alst
- Bubba Pollard
- Daniel Dye
- Mason Keller
- Carson Kvapil
- Trevor McCoy
- Albert Francis
- Jeff Storm
- Boris Jurkovic
- Johnny Brazier
- Jett Noland
- Hudson Halder