DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 25, 2012) – - Casey Roderick in his inaugural debut at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the No. 08 Randy Hill Racing Ford Mustang earned respect and attention in Saturday afternoon’s DRIVE4COPD 300 but a late-race incident relegated the team to a undesirable finish.
Before the accident, however Roderick rightfully raced his way into the spotlight by keeping focused behind the wheel of the No. 08 Randy Hill Racing Ford Mustang despite some early race setbacks.
After qualifying 32nd on Friday afternoon at “The World Center of Racing”, Roderick would be forced to drop to the tail end of the field after a motor change upon the conclusion of the first practice session Thursday afternoon. Knowing that it doesn’t necessary matter where you start the 300-mile event, Roderick knew that he had to keep his Ford Mustang in contention.
When the green flag dropped, several groups of cars broke out into several packs including Roderick who latched onto the rear of the No. 39 driven by Go Green Racing’s Joey Gase. With much of the field inked into two-car tantrums, a torrid pace by the lead group would catch Roderick’s group of three cars by lap 24 putting Roderick and Co. off the lead circuit and occupying the 34th position.
Six laps later, the first yellow flag waived with crew chief Paul Andrews electing to bring his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Restarting 35th, Roderick kept his No. 08 Randy Hill Racing Ford Mustang in the lead draft but tucked away in the rear just case in trouble was to strike.
Another caution would waive just before lap 50 with Andrews deciding to keep his driver out while the leaders pitted – putting the No. 08 Randy Hill Racing Ford Mustang at the front of the field, automatically becoming available for the “waive-around” which would put Roderick and his RHR team back on the lead lap.
On the restart, Roderick was anxious to give the field a taste of what his No. 08 Randy Hill Racing Ford Mustang was capable of and had marched to 18th by lap 58. Four laps later, the yellow flag would waive again giving the team the break they needed to head to pit lane for tires and fuel. When racing resumed on lap 65, Roderick was 25th.
Two laps later in the draft, the 19-year old had climbed into the top-20 holding 19th and just two more laps later, Roderick catapulted himself into the top-15.
Another caution on lap 75 opened the opportunity for Andrews to bring his rookie driver to pit road for fuel only. On the lap 79 restart, Roderick took the green flag in 17th and just one lap later had climbed into 14th.
Continuing to hover inside the top-15, Roderick found himself at then his highest position in 11th before the yellow would waive again with Andrews informing his driver that he would have to bring his blue oval to pit road just one more time for fuel – – ensuring the No. 08 Randy Hill Racing Ford Mustang would have enough gas to see the checkered flag.
Restarting 15th on the lap 96 restart, Roderick would find himself in the 13th position three laps later before a huge shove from former Nationwide Series champion Kyle Busch would rocket Roderick into the top-10 in eighth by lap 100. Despite finding himself with the lead pack, Busch would abort partnering with the Lawrenceville, Georgia native and leaving the young driver with zero drafting help and funneling backwards.
Dropping to 26th just two laps later, Roderick began storming back towards the front before a multi-car incident showered out ahead of him. Great heads-up driving by the former ARCA Racing Series winner nearly allowed the RHR team to emerge unscathed but contact from another car clipped the rear of Roderick sending him into the wall and ultimately ending the team’s Daytona bid.
“I had a blast out there, even as a rookie,” said Roderick. “I have to thank Randy Hill and everyone on the Randy Hill Racing team for the opportunity to race at Daytona and for giving me a really stout racecar. We found ourselves a lap-down early, but great pit strategy by Paul (Andrews) early put us back on the lead lap and our day just seemed to turn around from there. I learned a lot out there and I owe a huge thanks to Kyle (Busch) for shoving me into the top-10. I don’t think he was really comfortable racing with a rookie, so he dropped me and we fell to the back. But we went to that high line and were making our ground up and they all started wrecking ahead of us. It’s just the downside to Daytona. I’m smiling, because I honestly feel I earned some respect out there and hopefully turned some heads too. We’ll go get ‘em in Phoenix.”
Hill, who skipped an awards dinner at Dallas Christian School in Dallas, Texas Saturday evening where he would have been receiving the school’s prestigious Distinguished Alumnus Award offered his thoughts on the DRIVE4COPD 300.
“Casey did a great job and I’m extremely proud of him,” sounded Hill. “He really showed a lot of patience and maturity in our No. 08 Randy Hill Racing Ford Mustang. He was cool, calm and collective the entire day but unfortunately a bunch of cars started wrecking ahead of him and he had nowhere to go. Sadly, that’s just the downfall to restrictor plate racing. One minute you can be near the top and the next – you’re in someone else’s mess and your day is over. That’s what happened to us. We’ll get through it though and we’ll be back next week and ready to go after it again in Phoenix next weekend.”
Next up for the NASCAR Nationwide Series is a trip out west to Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway for the running of the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 on Saturday, March 3. The second of 33 races on the 2012 schedule will take the green flag shortly after 2:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. Eastern) with coverage on ESPN2, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90).
- Randy Hill Racing Press Release