Casey Roderick will trade one familiar outfit for another when the 2018 Southern Super Series season begins on Sunday in the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway.
In recent years, Roderick has driven the No. 7 Graham Racing Super Late Model and the No. 18 Pro Late Model for the legendary Ronnie Sanders. But in the second half of last season, Roderick began entering Super Late races in the No. 18, saying that the car number depended partially on who was paying the bills and partially on which body was prepared on any given event.
The two groups worked in tandem each weekend, but it’s still worth mentioning that the Grahams ceased operation during the off-season, meaning that Roderick will now race exclusively under the RSR banner.
Team co-owner DJ Graham still expects to be involved with Roderick over the course of the season, primarily in the spotter capacity.
“Basically we’re not a full time team,” Graham said. “We race because we love it. That being said, sometimes you’ve got to put aside the things you love doing for what’s best in the long run.
“We did everything we could to help Casey have everything he needed to succeed in Super Late Models and help get his name back on the map. I told Casey a long time ago that he would be the last driver to ever sit in that seat because you can never replace someone of his caliber. So here we are.”
Roderick had attempted his hand at NASCAR, making 11 Xfinity Series starts from 2011-2012. When the funding and results no longer merited the investment, Roderick returned to Late Models, hoping to revitalize his driving career.
With the Grahams, the results came fast and with frequency.
He won back-to-back track championships at Five Flags Speedway in 2015 and 2016, also winning the North-South Super Late Model Challenge at Fairgrounds Speedway in 2017. The impact the Grahams have had on his career isn’t lost on the 25-year-old.
“They’re still a big part of what we do and I hope it stays that way for a long time,” Roderick said. “They were a big part of getting me going again and unfortunately things are tough out here, we’re all struggling to make it to the track each week, and it’s a shame it costs this kind of money. They needed a break to focus on their business and I support that all the way. I talked to DJ a lot and he’s going to be with us.”
Roderick has races planned in both the Pro and Super division across the region this year, but hopes to focus more on the big Super races over the course of the 2018 season.
“We need to get up there and do what we’ve done in a Pro, which is take the fight to Bubba (Pollard) and Chandler (Smith) and do that in a Super. If we can just mimic that dedication, effort, I think we can do that.”
That mission begins in Alabama on Sunday in the Rattler, a race he won back in 2014.
“We’ve got a new car and you never really know how these first races go, but you’re always optimistic. And I think this is car we should feel confident about.”
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