Roddey brought the fans to their feet in the final lapSeptember 19, 2015
MYRTLE BEACH, So. Carolina – Roddey Sterling, Jr. brought the fans to their feet in the final lap of the CARS Pro Tour Late Model Stock Car Race "BakerDist.com 200” at Myrtle Beach Speedway's historic half-mile paved oval Saturday, September 19th as Jeff Oakley's #16 Late Model spun directly in Sterling's path – giving this rookie driver only seconds to brace for impact.
As Sterling, Jr. broadsided Oakley, Sterling was then plummeted from the rear by the #90 car ultimately creating one worse wrecks in the history of the track. Several cars including Sterling's were a total loss. The impact was intense enough it sent paramedics rushing to the scene and neither of the 3 drivers emerged from the wreckage for several minutes.
Aside from last lap crash ending this rookie's 33rd race just seconds before crossing the checked flag, Roddey Sterling, Jr. was setting a similar tone as he has done for the last several races proving out he can a long race side by side with the best of the best of them.
Sterling qualifying 13th out of a field of 28 and then proceeded to race three wide, on the top, middle and bottom numerous times pushing his way into the top ten in this fierce side-by-side battle of a race.
Sterling, Jr.'s evolving race craft was evident in Saturday's night race as he quickly moved back and forth numerous times from the inside to the outside trying get into whichever lane was faster at a given moment. With advice from his crew chief and spotter, Sterling moved to the low groove fighting on the inside for the first 17 circuits briefly fading to 17th with radio chatter from Sterling's spotter acknowledging he had put him in the "slow” lane.
On lap 18, Sterling -- with careful help from his spotter – moved to the outside and then to the inside in what seemed almost surgical in a race that refused to go single file … digging his way back into 13th and then putting the pressure on for the 12th spot.
Moving into the mid-point of the race, the rookie driver sustained a strong outside position amid a torrid side-by-side battle. On lap 48 again Sterling looked for a small gap to exit the inside moving up to the outside lane proving out well for the MoonPie Ford, and Sterling began to clear the mid-pack traffic jam – passing cars in wholesale fashion and moving into the 10th position.
As the laps clicked off, the caution-free pace did not subside, and Sterling found himself still locked in an inches-apart duel with multiple cars scrapping for a top-ten finish.
As the race approached lap 70, Sterling lost several positions as the field for the first time finally sorted out single file.
The sole caution flag flew on lap 98, forcing the pack to regroup for what would be a two-lap dash to the checkers.
"We had a great car tonight,” said Sterling. "We had some shock issues during practice and we sorted that out before qualifying. We ran a good race for MoonPie and Grissom Motorsports. Our MoonPie Ford was spot on for the better part of the race... the setup on the car was really good. Around the 70th lap I could feel as I am sure everyone else did the tires really giving away. I know there wasn't much left of them.”
"This track is just not very forgiving when it comes to tire management. You do what you can, but with a 100 laps of non-stop racing you just have to hang on to it. While I really don't know.... as it all happened so fast … I am going to guess that someone in front of me rubbed up against another causing Jeff to lose control. Earlier in the race a push or rub like that wouldn't have created the same result as it did. As we prepared to go green I knew these final two laps were going to be intense so much so I remember pulling down my shoulder belts one last time. While I knew it would be intense I didn't know it was going to end up where it did. Without a doubt that is the hardest I've hit anyone and been hit by another since I've started racing.”
"One thing for certain we put on an exciting and intense race for all the fans tonight including our grand exit on the final lap.... Once I shook off going from 100 MPH to zero I had to laugh as I realized seconds after we crashed the track set off a barrage of fireworks from the infield... certainly a spectacular finish from anyone's perspective.”
"I hate it ...especially so on our final lap … even still all in all it was a really good night for us. Steve Grissom and the Grissom Motorsports Team really had me seated in great car tonight. I just hate it's coming back to the shop in pieces... other than the drive train.... this MoonPie Ford is done"
Sterling and the Grissom Motorsports-prepared MoonPie Ford will return to Myrtle Beach Speedway's super-fast half-mile paved oval on Saturday, October 17 for the NASCAR Whelen All American Late Model Stock Car clash awarding "lock-in” positions for the nationally-contested NASCAR Whelen All American "Myrtle Battle at the Beach” in November.