WATERFORD – Budweiser Blastoff weekend at the Waterford Speedbowl has seemingly always meant big success for Keith Rocco.
But Sunday the Wallingford driver set a whole new standard of achievement at the shoreline oval. All three of the top division features run Sunday at Waterford ended with Rocco in victory lane.
Rocco won the 50-lap Late Model feature, the 64-lap NASCAR All-American Series SK Modified feature and the showcase Modified Racing Series Blastoff 100.
“It’s pretty cool,” Rocco said. “I haven’t really ever put a sight on that goal but I guess it popped up today. … The way I was running around all day from car to car and pit stall to pit stall, calling out shots, I didn’t even really think about the picture of being able to win three. … But man, what a huge notch.”
Rocco became the second driver in the 64-year history of the Speedbowl to win three features at the track in one day. Don Collins accomplished the feat on June 6, 1960.
Rocco, who runs part-time on the Modified Racing Series for his John Rufrano owned team, led every lap on the way to the victory in the Blastoff 100. Chris Pasteryak of Lisbon was second and Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield third.
It was the fourth career Modified Racing Series victory for Rocco, who also won in the division’s last visit to Waterford last August.
“We had [Ted Christopher] in second and Ted doesn’t back down, he made me work hard to keep the lead and Pasteryak made me work hard,” Rocco said. “We had a lot of challengers that made us push this car for everything it had.”
Rocco said he was getting worried in the first half that he was using up his tires, but said a long red flag period at with 58 laps remaining helped refresh his effort. The red flag was caused when Christopher blew his motor running in second, causing a massive turn three pileup.
“I’ve got to thank Hoosier Tire,” Rocco said. “They gave us this new right rear [compound] and I beat it pretty good the whole race. We had that real long stretch there and I was whining pretty good on the radio saying ‘We’re done here.’ And that right rear cooled off and we went back green and I thought I had [new] tires on this thing.”
The final restart of the day came with 16 laps remaining, but Pasteryak’s hopes were quickly dashed when Rocco left him easily over the closing laps.
“I wanted to spoil it [for Rocco], nobody should win that much,” Pasteryak said. “He was going. I thought maybe I had something for him, but I wasn’t even close. He just drove away, especially after the last restart. Started 13th, finished second, I’ll take it.”
Szegedy, kicking off his first season running full-time in the series, rallied valiantly after being involved in the pileup that brought out the red flag with 58 laps left.
“This is like a win finishing third. I was happy with the guys, they kept their cool during the pit stops and got the car fixed. Every adjustment we made we got it better.”