Keith Rocco Suspended For Remainder Of Season At Waterford Speedbowl For Fight

There will be no late season rally to a third consecutive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified division championship this year for Keith Rocco at the Waterford Speedbowl.

Keith Rocco

Speedbowl officials announced Tuesday that Rocco has been suspended for the remainder of the 2012 racing season for his involvement in a physical confrontation in the pits following his win in the 35-lap SK Modified feature Saturday.

After his victory Saturday, Rocco, of Wallingford, was involved in an altercation with SK Modified team owner Mike Pane.

Rocco had previously driven for Pane and his son Mark at the Speedbowl. Rocco parted ways with the Pane family team after last season and now fields his own team at the track. The Pane family now fields a team for Rocco’s twin brother Jeff.

Rocco’s brother Jeff finished second in Saturday’s feature.

Rocco was cited by the track for: “Participating in or inciting a fight – In this case, as a competitor that entered into another competitors pit area and physically abused a competing team member/patron; Unsportsmanlike conduct, endangering the safety of others in the pit area; Threatening or physical confrontations.”

Rocco said he confronted Mike Pane after the event concerning disparaging remarks Mike Pane allegedly made about the way Rocco drove against his brother in a battle for the lead during Saturday’s race.

Rocco said he defended himself after Mike Pane made the first physical move during the confrontation.

“He just talks a lot of [stuff], running his mouth about me behind my back,” Rocco said. “I went over and after the race and said ‘If you’ve got something to say say it to me.’ He proceeded to just jump me and that’s how it started.

“I didn’t make the first action. I guess it’s my fault for being there though.”

According to Speedbowl race director Scott Tapley, Rocco was the only individual who got physical during the confrontation.

Rocco said the confrontation had been brewing for much of the season.

“Every week he takes it further and further, trying to push me to see how far I’ll go and how far he can push me,” Rocco said.

Rocco is the second SK Modified division driver suspended for the remainder of the season in recent weeks. Diego Monahan of Quaker Hill was suspended for the rest of the season for physically confronting driver Tom Abele Jr. after a feature at the track on Aug. 25.

Rocco – the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion – was 51 points behind SK Modified division leader Tyler Chadwick following Saturday’s event, with five events remaining this season.

Rocco won six of the first 13 events at the Speedbowl before suffering a broken left wrist in a practice crash at Thompson International Speedway in late July. Despite missing an event, Rocco was leading the standings at Waterford at the time he suffered the broken wrist. He missed another start because of the injury.

Rocco, who also competes full-time in the SK Modified divisions at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway, is currently second in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings. His suspension essentially secures the 2012 national championship for Semora, N.C. driver Lee Pulliam.

Rocco’s SK Modified will be driven Saturday at the Speedbowl by his father-in-law, Todd Ceravolo. The SK Modified division is scheduled to run the final 141 laps of the Budweiser Modified Nationals 150, which was started on Sept. 1, but was stopped because of rain.

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