STAFFORD – First it was 31-year old Keith Rocco challenging. Then it was 30-year old Rowan Pennink giving chase.
Add those ages together and they’re just able to reach the man they were pursuing to the checkered flag Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Sixty-one year old Dan Avery staved off all challengers in rolling to victory in the 42-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Avery, of Somers, led every lap on the way to his fourth career SK Modified victory at the track. He got his last win at Stafford before Friday on Sept. 13, 2013. His first and second wins came on May 14, 1982 and May 21, 1982.
Pennink, of Huntingon Valley, Pa. – the reigning SK Modified champion and 15-time winner over the last four seasons – was second. Rocco, of Wallingford, a 42-time winner and two-time champion in the division since 2005 – was third.
“I know I had a pole shot, but I’ll tell you what, they didn’t make it easy on me,” Avery said. “I held off some of the best in the business and we’re real proud of it. We’ve got one hell of a racecar for the rest of the season.”
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Avery said. “I knew I could still do it in my heart, I just needed to have that car under me. I know even last year we had cars at times that were fast, they just would give up near the end of the race. They would either get loose or tight, they would lose grip. Bringing [setup man Stash Butova] on was definitely a bonus for us. He’s giving me a hell of a setup. The car is just fast on lap one as it is on lap 40, so we’re thrilled.”
Avery was thought to be the oldest winner in the history of the division when he won in 2013.
“Extending my record by three years,” he said. “… Age is just a number. I feel like I’m 30 out there.”
Rocco went to second on lap eight and Avery was able to hold off his challenges from behind over eight restarts.
“I learned one from one of the best when I used to race at Riverside Park Speedway, Reggie Ruggiero,” Avery said. “He taught me long ago how to do restarts and basically you’ve got to command the restart for yourself. You can’t let the second place car try to outfox you or command the restart.”
Pennink got by Rocco for second place on lap 40 and made a low bid on Avery into turn three on the final lap, but came up short on the drag race to the checkered.
“It was a good run for us tonight,” Pennink said. “We had a bunch of problems in the heat race and still didn’t get it running quite right. We had a shot, but we would have had a real good shot if we got that completely fixed.”
Said Rocco: “We’re hit and miss and hopefully we’ve got the thing back in the right direction for the last handful of races here.”