Story by: Langley Austin — [email protected]
Concord, NC(April 26, 2009) — Coming into the 2009 season there was a list of eight to ten drivers who were going to run the UARA-STARS tour that could win races this season … Corey LaJoie and Paddy Rodenbeck weren’t on that list, but yet they won the last two races and in convincing fashion.
With a second place finish at Rockingham and a lot of woulda,’ shoulda,’ coulda’s looming over what might have happened in the final laps, Rodenbeck brought his Green Hills Software team to Concord looking for another strong finish, but what he got was the finish he’d been looking for since the start of the 2008 season.
Qualifying was fast on the 1/2 mile d-shaped oval with local driver and Motor Mile Speedway regular, Shaun Mangum taking the pole by just two thousands of a second over two-time pole winner this season, Matt McCall. Mangum turned in a 16.384 while McCall ripped off a 16.386 and with the whole field seperated by less than eight tenths of a second in one of the most competitive fields in racing anywhere.
Qualifying also showed a couple surprises with Richard Boswell in a borrowed car from Rob Fuller qualifying third after struggling in practice and Rodenbeck qualifying fourth after being a perinial pole contender at Rockingham. The biggest surprise came in the form of 2008 Rookie of the Year, Darrell Wallace, Jr. claiming the fifth position in qualifying after missing this same race last year and having never had even a decent run at his hometown track.
One thing that wasn’t a surprise was that second year driver, Brandon McReynolds found himself with yet more engine problems during qualifying. On Friday, McReynolds thought he had his third straight blown engine, but later found that they had the wrong gear in the car, but Saturday evening what looked like a pole run turned into a hour or so of hard work by his team. McReynolds lost the engine on his second lap of qualifying, but his tough night and mechanical woes were only beginning as the “sophomore jinx” that he and Wallace had experienced in the first two races seemed to be continuing for him.
On the start of the race pole winner, Mangum apparently missed a shift and stacked the field of 26 cars up getting damage to Scott Turlington’s car and putting McCall out front. McCall wasn’t alone in the front and soon after the restart he would find Rodenbeck putting pressure on his back bumper. The top five made up of McCall, Rodenbeck, rookie Matthew Godley, Boswell and Kyle Grissom, was running together following the restart when the mechanical gremlins reappeared for McReynolds when he slowed and stopped in turn one. We haven’t had a chance to speak with someone from the team, but many people were speculating after the race that he had possibly blown yet another engine, which would be his fourth of the season.
Before the caution Wallace had made it up to fifth with Grissom beginning to slip back through the field and that’s where Grissom’s night would end as the next caution saw Logan Ruffin go for a spin after contact with another car and Grissom, who was racing with Kyle Moon for position got planted into the outside wall. Grissom, who lost his brand new Marlowe Chassis at Bristol may have lost another brand new car last night as the car looked pretty mangled as it came to rest against the outside wall. Moon was able to continue, but his tough night wasn’t over and Ruffin would also be able to continue, but these two weren’t done.
Just before the caution, Rodenbeck was able to slip by McCall for the lead while Clint Mills hit pit road under the green flag run for some sort of mechanical issue. There were a couple of movers and shakers before that caution with 2007 UARA-STARS Series champion, Ross Furr up to 7th and Roger Lee Newton up to 9th after starting 12th and 14th respectively. Wallace’s sophomore jinx would catch up to him as he began to fall back and out of the top ten as he also had a problem to bring out the next caution, but his “jinx” was just about to get worse.
Wallace continued to be the source of the next caution as he spun all by himself entering turn one as John King, Jr. also spun trying to avoid the wreck behind him. Furr’s night which had been decent up to this point would soon come to an end as he parked his ride after slipping out of contention. Newton would had been on the move up through the field was no beginning to slip back as Andy Loden worked on his back bumper for several laps before slipping by him. Lap 100 saw Turlington involved in another wreck as his tough night continued after a great run in practice and a great qualifying effort.
I told you that trouble for Ruffin and Moon would come back as the two got together coming out of turn four spinning Moon around and collecting Ruffin, who would end up with Wallace nearly in his lap as Wallace’s car climbed on top his window seal. Moon would have some heated words for Ruffin as he exited his car and looked over the damage to his own car. All three drivers night would come to an end after this crash set up a mad dash for the checkered flag late in the 150-lap race.
On the restart McCall got a slight run on Rodenbeck back into turn one, but Rodenbeck slammed the door on him and that was it as he drove off to his first ever UARA-STARS Late Model Stock Car victory. McCall held on to finish second with Godley third in his best career finish, Boswell and Jamey Caudill completed the top five. Loden, Owen Kelly, Davin Scites, Newton and Coleman Pressley finished in the top ten with rookie contender, Brennan Poole losing a chance at a top finish late when the field jumbled up on the final restart and he was black flagged due to the damage to his car and smoke pouring from his machine. With the penalty he still managed to rally back to a 17th place finish.
For Rodenbeck it was an awesome moment as he climbed from his car and celebrated his first win with tears beginning to well up inside of his father Pat’s eyes and the entire team realizing that they had finally made it … Rodenbeck is now certainly one of the drivers you have to watch week in, week out.
1 – Paddy Rodenbeck #81
2 – Matt McCall #51
3 – Matthew Godley #92
4 – Richard Boswell #88
5 – Jamey Caudill #50
6 – Andy Loden #29
7 – Owen Kelly #73
8 – Davin Scites #06
9 – Roger Lee Newton #33
10 – Coleman Pressley #59
11 – Garrett Campbell #12
12 – Dylan Presnell #83
13 – Ryan Gray #04
14 – John King #21
15 – Joey Bryant #11
16 – Shaun Mangum #5
17 – Brennan Poole #8
18 – Brad Queen #52
19 – Scott Turlington #48
20 – Logan Ruffin #2
21 – Darrell Wallace, Jr. #76
22 – Ross Furr #25
23 – Kyle Moon #19
24 – Clint Mills #77
25 – Kyle Grissom #32
26 – Brandon McReynolds #28