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Mason Mingus earns All-American 400 Triumph Under Wild, Unlikely Circumstances

Casey Roderick crossed the finish line first … but two laps down

Jeff Ames | STS

It was one of the most unorthodox finishes in short track history on Sunday night in the All-American 400.

Mason Mingus earned the prestigious Music City guitar for his victory in Super Late Model’s longest endurance race but only with some assistance from a driver several laps down but with a considerably faster car.

Casey Roderick, three laps down, was mixing it up with the leaders — Mingus, Chandler Smith and Boris Jurkovic — within five laps to go. Roderick had led during the middle stages of the race but lost several laps due to a fuel pick-up issue.

He felt as though race control had robbed him of a lead lap running position after several cautions and waive-arounds. The two-time and defending Southern Super Series champion was racing the leaders as if he were one of them.

Ultimately, Mingus won the race only because Roderick, driving a Rowdy Manufacturing chassis for Wilson Motorsports, held up fellow Rowdy affiliated drivers Smith and Jurkovic before passing Mingus himself on the final lap out of Turn 4.

Roderick took the checkered flag first, now two laps down, before winner Mingus and the remainder of the field.

Mingus, driving for Wauters Motorsports, completed one of the most unlikely victories in a crown jewel event of all-time. The Greenbrier, Tennessee native wasn’t even scheduled to participate in the All-American, getting the call this week when scheduled driver Dalton Armstrong was unable to fund the seat.

Through attrition and the unbelievable aid of Roderick, Mingus emerged victorious at home alongside one of the longest tenured stock car racing families in the discipline.

“We had a quick car all weekend,” Mingus told Short Track Scene after the race. “I never really mocked up and didn’t qualify well, but we bided our time and stayed out of the wrecks.

“We fell a lap down at one point trying to stretch our tires but got it back when we bolted on new tires and got a lucky dog. Some things played out in our favor for sure. My restarts were terrible all night until that last one.”

Mingus only inherited the lead when leaders Smith and a dominant Stephen Nasse tangled on a restart with 27 laps to go. That crash destroyed Nasse’s No. 51 Jett Motorsports entry and left Smith temporarily without a hood.

Smith was forced to work his way through the field, not a huge ordeal since there were only five cars on the lead lap at that point anyway. However, the fastest car on the track wasn’t even on the lead lap as Roderick continued to race amongst the leaders as if he were one of them.

Over the final two laps, with Smith closing on Mingus, Roderick raced side-by-side with both Jurkovic and Smith, holding up and passing them both. Roderick got one of his laps back on the final corner, but Smith felt as though he would have won if not for his friend, fellow Georgia native and fellow Rowdy affiliated driver.

“I guess you’re asking how frustrated I am,” Smith asked rhetorically after the race. “I’m really frustrated that a Rowdy car didn’t win because of another Rowdy car when one of them was capable of winning.

“Out of all people, I didn’t think Casey would do that. I would have expected it of someone else but never him. I’ve known Casey for a long time. He’s one of my good friends, or he used to be, because the fact that he just did that, I’m trying to wrap my head around what he was trying to accomplish.”

For his part, Roderick simply said he was trying to make two points: 1) That he should have won the race, believing that he should have been back on the lead lap by that point and 2) that he doesn’t quit for himself or sponsor James Finch of Phoenix Construction.

“It was just frustrating to have a race winning car like this,” Roderick said. “I proved that coming to the checkers. Chandler is mad at me. Whoever else. I really don’t care. I was just trying to get my laps back.

“I don’t give up. I’m not a freaking quitter. If they look at, loss of respect, I really don’t care. It is what it is. They would have done the same. I’m fighting for my livelihood.”

Roderick recently lost both of his full-time rides over the past three years with Graham Trucking Racing shut down in 2017 and when he split from Ronnie Sanders Racing in September. Roderick was only able to win the Southern Super Series championship due to Wilson Motorsports fielding a Rowdy Manufacturing car for him over the past two months with support from James Finch’s Phoenix Construction.

Roderick was adamant that he should have been scored on the lead lap.

“I feel like after that last caution, I should have been on the lead lap,” Roderick said. “I don’t know what was going on in the scoring tower up there. We should have been on the lead lap.”

The decision was puzzling on several fronts. It was an uncharacteristic decision from Roderick, one of the most respect drivers in the garage, but also because he cost a chassis manufacturer he is trying to secure a ride with for next season in Rowdy.

And from Jurkovic’s standpoint, it just didn’t make sense from a racing etiquette standpoint either.

“I don’t like it, there was no reason for it,” Jurkovic said.

Did it bother him, especially, that it was from a Rowdy driver?

“It doesn’t matter who’s car it is,” Jurkovic said. “You shouldn’t race that way. I don’t feel like you should do that when guys are racing for the win.”

And it didn’t matter to either Jurkovic or Smith that Roderick felt justified or convicted that he should have been on the lead lap.

“That’s not the racer’s problem,” Jurkovic said. “That’s his problem with race control. Casey did the wrong thing. Period.”

The usually mild-mannered Smith agreed.

“That’s total bullshit,” Smith said. “You’re two laps down. You’re not going to win the race. My car is basically a teammate to theirs and we could have won the race as Rowdy Manufacturing and instead a Port City is in Victory Lane. That’s unacceptable.”

Regardless of how it happened, Mingus has earned the biggest win of his career at his home track’s marquee event.

And now it will turn into another start together next month in the Snowball Derby.

“It’s a home track, and so many folks know us here, and I’ve wanted to win this race my whole life,” Mingus said. “I’ve been racing here since I was nine years old, mini cups on the quarter mile. This is special and he means a lot to all us.”

The race was marred by countless cautions and attrition. Expected contenders Bubba Pollard and Ty Majeski failed to finish due to mechanical failures. Others were involved in the numerous cautions that marred the afternoon.

In Super Late Model racing’s longest event, the key to finishing first is just finishing and Mingus took the Wauters No. 5 to victory lane under that method.

The complete results of the All-American 400 can be found below.

  1. Mason Mingus
  2. Chandler Smith
  3. Boris Jurkovic
  4. Brandon Watson
  5. Carson Hocevar
  6. Dennis Prunty
  7. Casey Roderick
  8. Kyle Neveau
  9. Johnny Brazier
  10. Dalton Zehr
  11. Stephen Nasse
  12. Donnie Wilson
  13. Austin Nason
  14. Greg Van Alst
  15. Eddie MacDonald
  16. Willie Allen
  17. Derek Thorn
  18. Michael House
  19. Albert Francis
  20. Cole Williams
  21. Bubba Pollard
  22. Ty Majeski
  23. Michael Simko
  24. John DeAngelis Jr
  25. Josh Brock
  26. Travis Braden
  27. Jonathan Eilen
  28. Jake Garcia
  29. Cole Butcher

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Scott Yost

    November 4, 2019 at 11:18 am

    I was at that race Roderick…bush league move bro!

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