WATERFORD – Over the last eight years, opening weekend at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl has come to be defined essentially by the dominance of one individual.
And that was once again the case for 2016 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
Opening weekend at Waterford usually means Keith Rocco in victory lane, at least once, if not twice and Sunday Rocco continued his recent doubling up prowess of the track’s Bud Blastoff weekend.
Rocco, of Wallingford, rolled to victory in the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature.
Ted Christopher of Plainville was second and Rob Janovic Jr. of Waterford third.
It was the seventh time in the last eight years that Rocco has won the opening SK Modified event of the season at the Speedbowl. He also won Saturday’s 30-lap Late Model feature at the track. He has swept both the Late Model and SK Modified features in the last five Bud Blastoff events.
“Just this first race, I’ve won both division for I don’t know how many year’s,” Rocco said. “It’s just pretty awesome to start off the season with two wins.”
Rocco is chasing his fourth consecutive SK Modified championship this year at the Speedbowl, and looking for his sixth in the last seven years.
Rocco started 10th in the SK Modified feature and wasn’t very optimistic that he would keep his opening day streak alive.
“This car wasn’t very good today,” Rocco said. “It got better at the end of the race. I just kept digging at it and kept working at it. It was to the point that we were almost thinking about coming in and making an adjustment. But we stuck it out. We didn’t have the car to win, but the fastest car doesn’t always win the race. We got some breaks. It’s better to be lucky than good I guess.”
Janovic led the field to green with Diego Monahan starting second.
On lap 26 Monahan stuck his nose low through grass in turn one to get under Janovic. The two made hard contact through turn one and Janovic was forced to save a sliding car through turn two while Monahan went to the front.
“I just saw dirt and dust flying and saw somebody go across the apron and clean somebody out,” Rocco said of the incident between Janovic and Monahan.
Said Janovic: “We were a tick off, but we were fast enough to stay in the lead and finish with the win. If there was a little bit more sportsmanship by the person following me than we definitely would have won it. And neither one of us ended up winning it, so where did that get us?”
Two laps later, Monahan ended up in the frontstretch wall while battling for the lead with Rocco.
“He had a tire or something going down,” Rocco said. “I was running him down pretty quick. I saw him come off of [turn] four and just go straight. His left rear was down.”
The Monahan crash gave Rocco a lead wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.
“Usually when you start 10th or 12th or whatever, when they drop the green you know what kind of car you’ve got,” Rocco said. “They dropped the green and I felt I didn’t have a car to win. We just took our time and tried to get what we could. At the end of the day we got pretty lucky, but you’ve still got to be there to win the race.”
Christopher used the outside on a lap 31 restart to go by Janovic for second, but had nothing to challenge Rocco late.
“I’m lucky I got to him,” Christopher said. “I was just happy I got to second.”