WATERFORD – For the team that has fought through the bad luck of early season doldrums, Kyle James had the perfect gift Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl.
James, of Ashway, R.I, drove away from Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco over the final restart and won the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl.
It was the first victory of the season for James, who had two third places and two wrecks in the first four events of the year.
“I don’t know if people notice it, but when we have gotten our podiums, we’ve been coming from the back and that shows a lot,” James said. “These guys that work on my car, every single one of them is in the garage hours and hours and hours a week making it perfect. With the luck we had to start the season, to do what this car is doing, it shouldn’t be doing it, but it is and it’s all because of them and their hard work.”
Rocco, of Wallingford, was second and Rob Janovic Jr. of Waterford was third.
James inherited the lead with 10 laps remaining when Joey Gada and Ed Puleo spun battling at the front of the field.
“With [Gada] and [Puleo] battling, I kind of gave them a little bit of space because [Puleo] ran me up one time,” James said. “I figured with 15 laps to go, give them space, let them do their thing and I’ll get them with five to go. And they took themselves out. That worked to my benefit.”
On the ensuing restart, James had Christopher in second and Rocco in third. James was able to easily check out and leave the field battling behind him.
“With Teddy and Keith behind you, you’ve always got to be on your marks because those guys are the best there is,” James said. “We had the car to do it. … I knew the car was good enough to do it. I just had to be on point myself. We got a good restart, got a couple car lengths on them and when you put a couple car lengths on them it just gives you a little bit of a comfort zone to be smooth and be fast and stretch it out a little bit.”
Rocco hung on to the points lead with his third second place finish of the season in the SK Modified division. He has victories in other two events for the division.
“We just got hung up in traffic and the car wasn’t that great tonight,” Rocco said. “We were definitely a little bit off. We’ve got a little bit of work to do.”