Casey Roderick won the World Crown 300 on Saturday night at Gresham Motorsports Park and became the King of the Short Tracks by merely surviving a race that saw just four cars running at the finish.
Twenty-six Super Late Models started the first major of the season and round 12 of the Southern Super Series.
The event was marred by several cautions, including two multi-car accidents that eliminated much of the field. Dominant performances by both Augie Grill and Bubba Pollard were negated by parts failures or flat tires, leaving an unsuspecting group that included Roderick, Kyle Grissom, Daniel Hemric and Harrison Burton left to battle for the victory.
By the end of the race, Roderick was the only driver with a pair of fresh tires remaining. He took them on with 10 laps remaining and cut through the lead pack on route to his second Southern Super Series victory of the season. He also won the season-opening Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway.
Roderick made the winning pass on the final corners of the final lap, shoving Grissom hard up the racing surface and beating him to the line by 0.316 of a second.
“It’s awesome,” Roderick said in Victory Lane. “I live 30 minutes down the road. I’ve always wanted to win here. I won a Legends race here on the quarter mile but that’s it. This was my time and I can’t believe it.”
For his part, Grissom felt like Roderick was overly aggressive in his last lap pass and believes that the eventual race winner would have wrecked him if that is what it took.
“If that’s the way (Roderick) wants it, he can have it,” Grissom said. “That’s pretty embarrassing. He had to send it there pretty good to get me. He all but turned me. That’s racing. We’ll come back and get them next time.”
Roderick argued that it was the last lap of the World Crown 300 and that he had to do whatever it took to eventually receive the crown and scepter annually awarded to the race winner.
“You don’t get chances to win this race very often,” Roderick said. “I had a chance to win it and I took it. To me I barely got into (Grissom) and got him a little free. That’s all it took. It’s not like I went in there to wreck him. I am sure he’s not happy. I wouldn’t be. But that’s just racing man. You got to get out here and give it all your heart.”
Grill was the most dominant driver of the night, leading a race high 200 laps but fell out of contention on lap 247 when he slapped the wall as the leader. He says his engine was starting to expire and that he made contact with the wall because he glanced over at his gauges at the absolute worst time.
“We started spitting water on the first pit stop,” Grill said. “It spit more and more every caution. I think it had spit enough that at the end the gauge was just reading gas, not water. The motor started losing power. I got into the wall, but we were about to park it anyway.
“I noticed it going down the back straightaway and looked down in the corner and got into the wall. That’s just been our year.”
Grill entered the event without having won a race and entered the World Crown 300 feeling somewhat confident about his chances. He was the pole-sitter for the July race at Gresham a month prior to the Crown.
Bubba Pollard has won four times in the Southern Super Series this season and appeared poised to post his fifth after leading 45 laps after the Grill accident. He was removed from consideration for the win when his left front tire began losing air pressure. The misfortune ultimately sent him hard into the wall with 10 laps to go — a caution that set-up the dash to the finish.
“I just hate it,” Pollard said. “It’s frustrating. It was bottoming out the whole race. It just couldn’t take it. Tire (stagger) an inch and half difference totally changes the car. We don’t buy practice tires so we didn’t know.
“It seemed like everything happened to the leaders tonight.”
Harrison Burton, the 13-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Jeff, finished third behind Roderick and Grissom, with Daniel Hemric and Jeff Choquette completing the top-5. The complete World Crown 300 results and post-race video can be viewed below.
- Casey Roderick
- Kyle Grissom
- Harrison Burton
- Daniel Hemric
- Jeff Choquette
- Bubba Pollard
- Ron Young
- Matt Craig
- Brian Hoar
- Augie Grill
- Preston Peltier
- Spencer Davis
- Stephen Nase
- Scotty Ellis
- Anderson Bowen
- Daniel Keene, Jr.
- Will Gallaher
- Russell Fleeman
- Donnie Wilson
- Dalton Grindle
- Landon Cling
- Allen Karnes
- Rodney Benefield
- David Odell
- Spencer Wauters
- Dennis Schoenfeld
Hemric and Grissom Clash in Post Race
Daniel Hemric and Kyle Grissom both had an equal chance to win the World Crown 300 on the final restart with just 10 laps to go on Saturday night but the rivals tangled several times before the finish. This allowed Casey Roderick to pass them both en route to his charge towards the front.
Grissom washed up the track under Hemric in the final laps, lightly sending the defending Southern Super Series champion into the wall. During the cool down lap, Hemric spun Grissom on the backstretch, prompting an altercation between Hemric and a crew member from Grissom’s team on the frontstretch.
Grissom held on to finish second while Hemric dropped to fourth. Both drivers spoke after the race and made peace with their actions. Video interviews with both drivers can be viewed below.