Roderick Grabs 6 in a row at Allen Turner PLM 100, Brusso wins first, Barnhill in Sportsmen, and Loper takes Pure Stocks
Casey at the Flag Stand: Roderick Collects another PLM Checkered Flag, Makes it Six in a Row
By Chuck Corder
With apologies to Allen Turner, but perhaps it’s time the Pro Late Model division at Five Flags Speedway be renamed in Casey Roderick’s honor.
All the Lawrenceville, Ga., driver does at the famed half-mile asphalt oval behind the wheel of his Ronnie Sanders red No. 18 PLM machine is continue to stack up victories.
Not counting the Snowflake 100 held each December, Roderick won his sixth consecutive Allen Turner PLM Series 100 lapper dating back to last season.
He took the lead from Perry Patino exactly at the halfway point and finished with a 7-second margin of victory over Patino. Third place went to New York driver Giovanni Bromante, who worked his way up after starting 20th in the 23-car field because of a pre-race technical infraction.
“It’s pretty good here,” Roderick said of his car in Victory Lane. “There was something funny happening in the front end, but we’ll shake that out once when get it back to the shop.
“It was good enough to bring it home in Victory Lane tonight. It’s pretty awesome to maintain this level of racing.”
Roderick started on the pole despite not having the best time. That honor belonged to Cole Anderson with Roderick a close second. But a two-car invert moved Roderick to P1.
In the PLM opener on the last day of March, the roles were reversed. Roderick set the fast time with Anderson a close second. But, again, with a die roll of “2” Anderson began the 100 lapper on the pole.
On this night, Anderson made early work of Roderick on Lap 4, as he took the lead and pack of three more cars freight trained Roderick to push him back to fifth in Friday’s early stages.
“They were better at the beginning,” Roderick said. “It just came to us. They fell off and we got better late in the race. It’s a dream come true for me just to be able to race. Otherwise I’d be sitting at home, not knowing what to do with my life.”
Teenage wunderkind Connor Okrzesik led almost 40 laps before Patino passed him on the inside, which also brought Roderick by Okrzesik.
Roderick quickly began stalking Patino for the lead, and reclaimed clean air as the field completed 50 laps.
“We’ve gotta keep tweaking on it to stay with Casey,” Patino said. “It’s fun racing with these guys and not tear anything up.”
Bromante’s night that began as a nightmare quickly turned into a dream that became a reality, as he chewed up most of the field in making his mad dash to a podium result.
“It was a fun race,” the teenager said. “We started from the back, and I can’t thank everyone for giving me a great piece.”
Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks
Stuart Dutton had a couple of reasons to breathe a sigh of relief Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.
Getting your first career win at Five Flags Speedway after numerous attempts will always do that to a driver. But holding off Bubba Winslow, the current Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks points leader and reigning Outlaw Stocks Snowball Derby champion, is a feat in of itself.
Despite Winslow charging hard in the final laps, Dutton was able to protect his lead and captured the 35-lap Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks feature.
“It was tough,” said Dutton, a Tallahassee driver. “I’m glad to finally finish. Every time, it seems we get involved in wrecks. (Bubba) is a tough guy to beat here. He really closed the gap.”
Winslow finished as runner-up and Kody Brusso rounded out the podium. That was all before technical inspection, however.
Once the top three cars reached the “tech shed,” race officials ruled Dutton and Winslow were illegal and it delivered Brusso her first career win at Five Flags.
“You always think tonight’s gonna be the night,” Brusso said. “The car is a lot better than it was. There’s still kinks to work out. But we’ll get there. We’re coming, we’re fast.”
The reshuffling meant Pensacola’s Jeremy Pate was officially second and Conner Sutton was third.
Before he found his demise post-race, Dutton led wire-to-wire.
Winslow decided to make his move with less than 10 laps remaining, driving his No. 92 deep into Turn No. 3 where he was able to close the deficit. However, the Cantonment driver was never able to pull up to Dutton’s No. 32 bumper on the white-flag lap and Winslow had to settle for second.
“I think we just let go too early,” Winslow said. “We were trying to save, but not let (Dutton) get too far out there. When it was time to go, we didn’t have enough to get around him. Stuart had a great car tonight.”
The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
This Friday night wasn’t as easy as some of Mark Barnhill’s recent triumphs at Five Flags Speedway.
The Theodore, Ala., driver battled close friend Jason Huffmaster for much of the 30-lap The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen feature.
Huffmaster led for most of the night until some beating and banging with his good buddy opened up just enough room for Barnhill to storm to the front. Barnhill took the lead from Huffmaster on Lap 18 and never had to sweat for his third consecutive Sportsmen victory at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
“I didn’t think I was gonna be able to get around (Huffmaster),” Barnhill said. “That’s my buddy there. And he had a pretty good car. I was loose trying to get under him.”
The battle for second was just as good as the duel Barnhill and Huffmaster waged. With Huffmaster also involved, Lee “Red Dog” Reynolds and Milton’s Shanna Ard were nose-to-tail around Pensacola’s high banks.
Reynolds ultimately ended up with runner-up honors and Ard coming home third.
“We didn’t start out too well, but to come up here in third place, that’s not too bad,” said Ard, who came to the pits midway through the feature where nearly his entire front was removed. “It was fun racing ‘Red Dog.’ We were all clean with each other. That’s about as hard as you’re gonna get without wrecking.”
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks
It took three opening-flag restarts, but once their 20-lap feature finally went green, the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks put on one heck of a show.
Alabama driver Robert Loper became the division’s fourth different winner this season, by taking the lead from series points leader Robert Balkum on Lap 6 and never relinquishing it the rest of the night.
“It was a great car,” said Loper, the defending Pure Stocks Snowball Derby champion. “We’ve been fighting this thing. We had to rebuild it and show all of y’all that this thing can still run.”
Balkum finished second and teenager Caleb Burkett continued his steady run with another podium result.
“I’m going to have to find some kryptonite to take this (Loper) out,” Balkum joked of his friendly rival from across the bay.