Sterling Met His Commitment on QualifyingNovember 24, 2015
MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina – Sterling, Jr. The 22-year-old rookie driver tackled the preliminary qualifying event at the NASCAR Whelen All American Series "23rd UNOH Battle at the Beach". Landing 19th locking in his 38th place starting spot in the field of 46 in this 200 lap race.
This was the final NASCAR Pro Late model season race known for bringing best of the best teams and drivers from all of the country. The event is also known for sending race teams home who don't make the required intense multiple qualifying runs. This year surprisingly officials started all 46 cars making for very little real estate that all wanted their piece of.
Sterling, Jr. who earned a contingency spot last year vowed to claim his own spot in this late model coveted race this year.
"Last year, I was able to get a contingency starting spot, which I was very grateful to have especially with so little experience ...but this year I wanted to do it on my own. I know it might not be a big deal for some with a lot more experience but for me… I wanted to qualify straight up and I did. I can't say it's where I wanted to be…but I got in…"
Myrtle Beach Speedway which is accustomed to hosting NASCAR Pro Late Model races generally have no more than 20 -25 race cars. The NASCAR UNOH 400 Whelen Pro Late Model started a field of 46 cars this year which is enough to intimate any Pro NASCAR driver of any level.
With Sterling, not qualifying well the Grissom Motorsports Team seemed concerned about Sterling's starting position with such a large field of cars and being a 200 lap race especially so considering this would be Sterling, Jr's 34 start ever.
Packed as they were the green flag dropped and like Sterling, Jr's races as of lately, this young man delivers performance of those who have been doing this for decades… avoiding two back-to-back multi car crashes and bobbing and weaving his way from 38th to 15th by lap 75. After several more intense restarts, Sterling's night began to shape up as potentially his best performance yet. As Sterling approached the 117th lap and his 3rd restart of the night, as the green flag dropped several cars in front of his #59 MoonPie Ford checked up sending him into the rear of one of them ultimately forcing the MoonPie Ford on to pit road. After a quick scurry from the Grissom Motor Sports pit crew to see if the MoonPie Ford could be repaired, the team reluctantly rolled the car into the garage closing out Roddey's great performance in recovering from his poor qualifying run earlier in the day.
"I was really … really disappointed I didn't get to finish what was shaping to be my best race yet. I am normally hard on myself maybe at times to a default but tonight was different. Everyone knows this race brings in the best teams and drivers in the series. So to race with these guys and with this many cars on this track, it's just not something done without considerable race craft."
"What happened out there tonight before the wreck really helped validate things…for me and the team as it shows we continue to make solid progress. I needed that … and our team needed that. To put things in perspective, I passed more cars (22) out there tonight in the first half of the race than there is in total at a typical NASCAR or CARS late model race. Short of not finishing the race tonight … I feel really good about where we are as we wrap up the season. People continue to say "how do you just walked into something you've never been around or done before and 18 months later you're racing against those who have been doing so for years, if not decades. For me the answer is an easy one …. It's Steve and Kyle Grissom and the Grissom Motor Sports team……. I've been so fortunate to have been surrounded by such great people both professionally as well as personally."
-Roddey Sterling, Jr.
Sterling, Jr. wraps up first full season in stock car racing delivering seven top 10s and one top 5 finish out of 25 starts.
NASCAR's final Pro Late Model race of the season coincides with the final NASCAR Cup season's chase race at Homestead this past weekend with Kyle Busch being crowned as the 2015 Sprint Cup Champion