Almost Perfect: Shawn Monahan Holds Off Keith Rocco For SK Mod Win At Waterford

WATERFORD – Shawn Monahan may not have had the best car on the track Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl, but what his car lacked his own supreme confidence made up for.

Shawn Monahan celebrates Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl

Monahan held off multiple challenges from Keith Rocco over the last 15 laps to win the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl.

“The car wasn’t perfect but the driver sure was,” Monahan said in victory lane.

It was the first SK Modified victory at the Speedbowl for Monahan, of Waterford, since 2008.

Tyler Chadwick of Ledyard was second and Rocco, of Wallingford, third.

Monahan, who was making his sixth start of the season, started on the pole and led all but one lap in the caution-marred feature. It marked just the second top-10 of the season for Monahan.

“The pockets have been empty, but tonight, money in the checkbook,” Monahan said.

Rocco went from fifth to third on a restart with 18 laps left and then went past Ed Puleo for second on a restart with 17 laps left. From there Rocco stalked Monahan looking for any way around him on the outside, but it wasn’t to be.

“I have gone since 1998 that I’ve won at least one feature every year [in racing],” Monahan said. “I thought 2012 was going to be the first year I couldn’t accomplish that. We started late in the season, but tonight, with a pole-shot, I knew it was my best chance. Keith Rocco knew it was my best chance.

“I told him before the night started, ‘No car passes me under the white line tonight.’ No car passed me under the white line. I did tell him, which was a little bit of a lie I guess, that if he went to the outside I’d give him all the room he needed. But my car was so tight on entry that I was on the edge of control. If I wasn’t there, he would have got me going in. I was a little stronger coming off. That was his only weak spot tonight and I capitalized on it.”

With 10 laps remaining, Rocco got a nose under Monahan on the backstretch and looked ready to take the lead, but the caution flew seconds later, stopping his bid for the top spot.

Rocco briefly led lap 28 by a bumper at the line, the only lap Monahan didn’t lead.

“There was way too many cautions tonight,” Monahan said. “And at one point, for one lap I think this race, Keith Rocco had a bumper ahead of me. And I said ‘Dear lord please don’t let this be the caution.’ And we went around and we completed that next lap and I was back a bumper ahead of him and I was jumping for joy.”

Said Rocco: “Shawn told me before the day even started that he wasn’t giving the bottom up tonight and he did a good job. If that one yellow didn’t come out [with 10 laps left] that might have been our shot. A lot of fun racing up front with Shawn. Just wish we had a few more laps, never long enough when you’re having that much fun.”

Chadwick passed Rocco with two laps left for second place but had nothing left to chase down Monahan.

“We had a good car but Shawn drove a real good race,” Chadwick said. “It was going to be really hard to get by him. He’s here for the win. He’s not here for anything else.”

Rocco took over the points lead from Rob Janovic Jr., who ended up 24th of 27 starters after a hard wreck with 18 laps left. Though it will likely be a short reign at the top of the standings for Rocco, who will miss next week’s event because he will be competing in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway.

Rocco now holds a 12 point lead over second place Chadwick. Jeff Pearl in third in the standings, 21 points out of the lead. Janovic fell to fourth in the standings, 27 points behind Rocco.

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