THOMPSON – Reunited, and it feels so good.
Just before the start of the 2016 racing season Keith Rocco announced that he was getting back together with former car owners Mark and Mike Pane in the SK Modified division at Thompson Speedway.
Rocco drove a Pane owned SK Modified for multiple years at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. He was driving the Pane owned No. 57 SK Modified the night he clinched his first and only Whelen All-American Series Modified national championship in 2010 at the Speedbowl.
After the 2011 season though Rocco went his separate ways from the Pane family.
But back together in 2016, they’ve shown immediately they didn’t forget how to have success together.
Rocco ran away from the field in winning the 30-lap SK Modified feature Wednesday at Thompson Speedway. It was the first weekly event of the season at Thompson. Rocco also won the SK Modified feature at the Icebreaker on April 10 at Thompson.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Rocco said. “To get back with the Pane’s and just come out and have complete domination, it says a lot. It’s not only preparing the car and having a fast car, but you need to be relaxed and have fun. All that stuff makes a big difference in racing. That’s the kind of situation we’re in right now. We’re having fun and winning races. I think it’s only going to get better from here on out.”
Ryan Preece of Berlin was second and Woody Pitkat of Stafford third.
Rocco started 10th in the field and quickly worked his way up to the leaders. By lap nine he was tapping on the rear bumper of then leader Rowan Pennink. A lap later Rocco made a move under Pennink in turn four and then wrestled the lead away on lap 11.
From there Rocco checked out from his pursuers. Preece was able to close the gap to the front over the closing circuits, but never got close enough to even ponder a challenge.
“I got out front and I got such a big lead,” Rocco said. “My spotter reads me lap times and I knew where we were. I just saved something. There’s always that late race caution. I didn’t want to completely kill the tires if we had a late race caution. So I just let him get to about three car lengths and kept him there.”