Sensational Six: Keith Rocco Sets Track Record For Consecutive SK Modified Wins At Stafford

Keith Rocco celebrates a record setting victory in the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

STAFFORD – When it comes to the statistical history of the SK Modified division at Stafford Motor Speedway, the name Ted Christopher tops the list in most categories.

On September 16, 2017 Christopher was killed in a plane crash flying to a race at Riverhead Raceway in Riverhead, N.Y.

Six days later, in the first event at Stafford Speedway following Christopher’s death, Keith Rocco won the 40-lap SK Modified feature. It seemed then a perfectly fitting outcome. As a teenager Rocco was part of Christopher’s crew. Then they become heated rivals on the track while staying close friends off of it.

That victory on Sept. 22, 2017 at Stafford in the penultimate event of the season set in motion a record making moment Friday at the track for Rocco. The Wallingford driver hasn’t lost an SK Modified feature at Stafford since that night.

Friday Rocco got his fourth victory in four starts this season and his record setting sixth consecutive victory at Stafford Speedway.

Rocco became the first driver in track history to win six consecutive SK Modified features. The division ran its first race on April 30, 1982 and Friday marked the 644thfeature for the division.

“This is awesome,” Rocco said. “To set a record is unbelievable. … It’s the fact that the more races you win the more the odds are stacked against you. The more chance you don’t have to win another one. The thing was fast tonight. … To be able to set a record here is just above and beyond.”

Joey Cipriano of Waterbury was second and Eric Berndt of Cromwell third.

When Rocco won on May 11 he became only the third driver in track history to win five consecutive events. Christopher was the first to accomplish the feat in 2004. Woody Pitkat matched the record in 2007.

“The opportunity to do it is hard to come by,” Rocco said. “… We had five straight and if we lost it it’s hard to start the streak again. Just a good car and a good team and everything is clicking and meshing and it’s just making my job easier.”

Christopher is the all-time winningest driver in the SK Modified division at Stafford with 109 victories from 1986 to 2017. Rocco is second on the list with 49 victories. Rocco got his first win in the division on July 24, 2005.

When asked about grabbing sole possession of such a historic record in a division that is in so many ways defined by Christopher Rocco was emotional.

“It feels good but at the same time if he was still here and racing against us, chances are it would have never happened because every week it would have been me and him battling for the win,” Rocco said. “You put two hard racers together like he was and I am, it’s hard to get a streak going like that.”

Rocco started 14thin the field and knifed his way up to fourth by lap 13.

On lap 20 Cipriano passed Michael Gervais Jr. for the lead with Rocco following to second. Four laps later Rocco got under Cipriano in turn three and came out of turn four with a lead he would never relinquish. Cipriano challenged Rocco over the closing laps, but couldn’t find a lane back to the lead.

Said Cipriano: “It’s unreal. They’re on their game right now. He stepped it up the end of the last year and he is just on his game. He’s hard to beat. He’s good, he’s got a million laps at this place. He’s going to be tough to beat. But we’re close and tonight gave me that confidence that we have what it takes to run with him.”

Said Berndt: “It’s impressive, it really is. There’s no other way you can say it because the competition is tough. He’s not starting in the top-10, he’s starting 14th, 16thin that area. … It’s impressive. But we’re gunning for him.”

Since the first SK Modified feature at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 30, 1982, there have been 644 features for the division. During that span there has been only 13 instances when a driver has won three or more consecutive events. Below is the listing.

Six Consecutive 

Keith Rocco – Sept. 22, 2017 to May 18, 2018 (over two seasons) – active streak

Five Consecutive

Ted Christopher – July 5, 2004 to Aug. 6, 2004
Woody Pitkat – July 20, 2007 to August, 24, 2007

Four Consecutive

Keith Rocco – June 11, 2010 to July 2, 2010
Keith Rocco – July 1, 2011 to August 5, 2011

Three Consecutive

Bo Gunning – June 24, 1983 to July 8, 1983
Ted Christopher – August 5, 1988 to August 12, 1988
Bob Potter – August 31, 1991 to April 12, 1992 (over two seasons)
Ted Christopher – May 31, 1996 to June 14, 1996
Bo Gunning – August 21, 1998 top Sept. 4, 1998
Ted Christopher – July 28, 2000 to August 4, 2000
Ryan Preece – April 27, 2014 to June 6, 2014
Rowan Pennink – August 22, 2014 to Sept. 5, 2014

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Comments

  1. NH Mark says:

    BORING…

  2. Dolla Dolla $$$$ says:

    Honestly Shawn remind us again of the passing of tc … everybody knows he was the greatest why can’t u just let it to rest…

  3. Jerry Fascione says:

    Why cause its not your favorite winning, get a life

  4. Openwheelfan says:

    Hmmmmm let’s see if stafford tears his car down to bare chassis and keep him there all night like they did to preece a few years back.

  5. Openwheelfan says:

    Amen. Notice he didn’t start winning until ted passed. He will never be TC

  6. Not Blind as a Bat says:

    Amen to that Dolla

  7. Tech guy says:

    Yeah openwheel fan, that never happened. Taking body panels off and a seat out is hardly stripping it to the bare chassis. What a ridiculous comment.

  8. Kelsey Grammer says:

    No doubt that Rocco can drive a race car, but he sure butchers the English language!

  9. Love him or hate him he’s winning in one of the hardest weekly series out there congrats

  10. Tough crowd! How about the guy just did something no one has ever done. The guy works his ass off. Does things the right way. Good family man. Wth is not to like.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Congrats keith

  12. Mike Serluca says:

    Congrats to Keith! This is a phenomenal record! By the way, Keith will never be TC because only TC was TC. That comparison is overly used and ridiculous. Keith will be Keith, dominating, setting records, and will continue to be a force. As far a butchering the English language, I’d bet money that he’d out drive you any day of the week. Blindfolded. Keep up the good work Keith and crew!

  13. Old Observer says:

    Openwheelfan, What planet are you from? Rocco didn’t start winning until TC passed, they have had 49 races since last Sept? I’m not a Rocco fan but appreciate what he has accomplished.

  14. Please stop comparing every driver to TC. It’s insulting. Keith is very talented as a driver, mechanic and engine builder. He has accomplished allot in his career which is far from over. As far as his wins this season, the new TROYER TA1 they got this winter and the addition of Bear to the team, coupled with awesome Pettit power has allot to do with it. Like him or not, he’s one of the hottest drivers in New England right now. Best of luck to Keith and the 88 team

  15. Not Blind as a Bat says:

    Stafford has had 49 races since last September? Wow I guess we all have missed alot then. Rocco started winning consistently when Bear took all he knew and worked into TCs cars over to Rocco. If that didnt happen I do not think we would even be talking about six consecutive wins over two seasons. Not one season like other wins but two.

  16. Jeffrey says:

    Please stop..when u compare its ridiculous
    How bout james and jordan. Both are pretty good right…so was tc and keith is good too!!! How come we cant just say tgey are both day really fricking good!!!!

  17. What’s the harm in comparing drivers? It will be done 15 or 20 years from now for sure. Many of us will be dust but the debate will live on hopefully. As a young pup now Rocco has many races to win. One can envision a day long in the future at Rocco’s retirement from racing when he is hailed as the greatest ever. And like the Evans gang that howl when TC is raised up as the great one, they will also howl when Rocco is the man of the hour. And the debate lives.
    What isn’t appreciated is who the better businessman is that forms the foundation for continued success over long periods of time. Christopher and his M&T Transmission. Car owners and sponsors come and go over the decades but having a successful business to smooth out the rough patches is the foundation. Or Rocco with his extensive racing network. Or maybe Todd Owen with his growing stable of cars and influence.
    My view is the car is 95% of the success and the driver 5%. But the brilliance in the 5% can’t come out unless a good business person has built the 95%. And the best like Evans, Christopher, Cook and Stefanick did it over decades. Check back in 15 years to see if Rocco has the staying power. His resume is still a work in progress.

  18. Jeffrey T says:

    Doug that was not right…the beer that is drinken has no more sudes
    Great french fries at waterford toi
    Turtle soip is good
    Take care buddy

  19. Jaun Mortime says:

    Is it me or has everyone including the PR staff at Stafford forgotten that Geoff Bodine won 7 in a row at Stafford as part of his incredible 1978 season?

  20. Jaun Mortime,
    It has been very specifically stated in all stories on this website, and in all information released by the track PR, that this is a consecutive win streak record for the SK Modified division. It has never been stated as anything more than a record for the SK Modified division.

  21. Jaun Mortime says:

    You’re right about that Shawn. IMHO, it is has been a self-serving, egregious oversight by the PR team at Stafford not to at least mention the Bodine streak.

  22. Jaun Mortime,
    I respectfully disagree. It has never been intimated in any way that this is the overall record for any division at the track. They’re two totally different divisions. Should the record for consecutive Late Model victories be mentioned too? Nope.

  23. Crazy in NY says:

    One can envision a day long in the future at Rocco’s retirement from racing when he is hailed as the greatest ever.
    ( Spitting up blood I am) What? Greatest what ever? Syb has he ever won a Modified race? RE won on dirt, in a Super, at more tracks than Rocky the wonder boy could dream of driving .
    Only 9 NASCAR titles racing against far greater talent than the handful of decent shoes that run SK’s in CT. You my friend are clearly delusional.

  24. darealgoodfella says:

    Rocco will the greatest ever WHAT? He hasn’t been able to advance to Tour mods. He’s stuck in off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-Broadway Land. He’ll be the greatest ‘A’ league ball player.

  25. get real says:

    Acting like the mod tour is a big deal is ridiculous. Most of the field on a given week have never won a go kart race and couldnt finish in the top 10 of a sk race at stafford.

  26. Get real,you got it right. Today’s NWMT is an overpriced farce. The MRS,although made up of allot of the same drivers is, in my opinion, a better series. As far as Rocco not having a full time tour ride, the guy stays busy enough Fielding cars at Stafford and Thompson, along with the ” one-off” shows plus his job at Pettit along with his family obligations. I’m sure if Keith wanted to run the tour full time, that he has the means of doing so, especially with the support of John Rufrano. Don’t think he’s interested in it.

  27. get real should it least look at the roster b4 he makes ridiculous statements about “most of the field”.The NWMT is the premier modified tour in the country.Not the MRS or the ROC or any other tour.Can’t hold a candle and that’s why other than Emerling these other teams stay away even if the date is open to them.I wonder if Rob p can explain in what way the MRS is a better series since it’s his stated opinion.

  28. art, go easy on get real. Looks like another member of the Sybil clan.

  29. Not sure why I am chiming in here and how this got into a VMRS v Whelen tour thread. In past years I have enjoyed the VMRS more than the Whelen tour for the following reasons. VMRS doesn’t count caution laps, they qualify through heat races while usually meaningless it’s better than time trials, the admission price is typically more affordable than a Nascar tour race at the same track, the race is shorter, most of the passing is on the track not on pit road. I will agree the talent and equipment is better on whelen. I will not argue that Nascar is the premier modified tour out there but overall I tend to go to more and enjoy VMRS races more than Whelen. Now is every VMRS show great? No, but you can say the same for Whelen. I think both tours have things going for them over the other tour. As a fan it is nice to have a few relatively healthy tours to chose from. Thankfully, there isn’t 4 to chose from this year. PS Congrats to Keith Rocco, quite an achievement in arguably the toughest local weekly division around.

  30. Fair enough csg.Maybe if I was located in the CT Mass area I would follow MRS along with NWMT.But I’m not making that drive for MRS or ROC.I get to see them at Thompson Sat night at the World Series.Usually a good race.I don’t think get real is a family member dareal.Not hysterical enough!

  31. Jeffrey says:

    Dareal
    Are you ok ???
    I got $$$ if you need a loan..
    Rocco is great !!!
    No question about it !!!
    Dareal you are still my partner.
    But i must say you are clearly having issues…i think you are broke due to over spending..thats ok my friend…head to western union i sent you that $$$ you were asking me for. Dareal also i got you a pit pass for the rest of 2016.Thanks in advance

  32. darealgoodfella says:

    Jeffrey, I’m good, still waiting for you to repay those loans I made to you. How’s your memory?

    I would like to see Rocco’s driving on The Tour. He’s a good driver in an SK. Must be some other reason. Jeff, go find some top notch equipment for sale, hauler, 2 cars, spare engines, etc. You buy it all, you still have my money.

  33. Jeffrey says:

    Dareal
    I already did the race team thing..i lost money..

    I just through money in the purses now!!!
    Im the reason dare stock pays 5000 to win

  34. Jeffery, I’m cutting you off. No more 💵 for you.

  35. big surprise says:

    kieth is cheating no doubt and the they know it! i hope keith and bear aren’t stupid enough to win this week the car iIS not might IS gonna be taken apart top to bottom! and tha came from a Arute its bad for business mark A is either a hypocrite or a stand up guy he made ALL the guys running a T/A sk light motor pay money in the off season to have rad look at them to make syre no one was cheating please! “kiett the CHEAT “ in the last 5 years at stafford was a LOAD of crap now he is unstoppable BS they are hip to it and its gonna be exciting watching that hole crew be caught! bet they take a couple weeks of winning off but it doesnt matter the next win — cars apart and it wont come as a BIGSURPRISE😜

  36. WOW! Talking abpot destroyying the englisz language, me hats offf to “big suprise”, as u ar the best, evan bester than Jeffrey !

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