Behind Leaders, Ugliness Reigns In Late Model Division At Waterford Speedbowl Saturday

Keith Rocco’s Late Model is brought back into the pits Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl (Photo: Mark Caise)

It was a duel at the front of the 30-lap Late Model division feature Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl that had fans on their feet as Jeff Smith and Dillon Moltz traded the lead 12 times over the final 25 laps of the event.

But it was an incident early in the event that left a black cloud of ugliness hanging over the division.

The first two weeks of the 2013 season saw team owner Scott Fearn, and his driver Keith Rocco, leaving the track with the Late Model division winner’s trophy.

Saturday though Fearn left the track in handcuffs after his car was destroyed following contact on the track between Rocco and fellow Late Model driver Rich Staskowski.

After the incident Fearn was arrested by the Waterford Police for punching one of Staskowski’s crew members in the pits. Fearn is facing third degree assault charges. He was released Saturday night after being booked and is due in court on May 3.

Rocco, the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series short track national champion, is in his first season running full-time in the Late Model division at Waterford. Fearn had a new car built over the winter with plans on chasing a championship in the division. Rocco won the first two Late Model events of the season going into Saturday’s third race of the year.

Five laps into the event Rocco and Staskowski met on the track in a race for position that ended with Rocco’s car a mangled mess on the track.

The lap before the wreck Rocco slowed on the track after making contact with Dillon Moltz. When Rocco slowed Staskowski was able to pass him on the outside coming off of turn two. Before the conclusion of the lap, Rocco got under Staskowski in turn four and passed him for the position before the pair reached the start/finish line.

Just after the start/finish line, with Staskowski on the high side, contact was made between Staskowski’s left front fender and Rocco’s right rear fender. It sent Rocco’s car spinning violently into the corner wall driver’s side first.

“The video is pretty clear as day,” Rocco said. “When you’re on the racetrack and you’re halfway down the straightaway [on the inside of someone], you’re not turning right, you’re turning left. It’s clear as day that he just plain junked me. If you can’t beat us, go home and do your homework, you don’t have to junk us.”

Reached Sunday evening, Staskowski said he would not comment about the incident on the track or what took place later in the pits between his crew and Fearn.

Staskowski was not penalized for the incident by track officials and went on to finish second to Smith in the 30-lap feature.

Fearn said he approached Staskowski at Staskowski’s car hauler in the pits about 15 minutes after the crash looking for an explanation as to why he wrecked Rocco.

“I walked over there very calmly and the cops saw me walking over so they walked over and they stood just outside his of his trailer ramp,” Fearn said. “I walked up the ramp and Rich was just coming out and he stood in the trailer a foot or so and I stood on the very back of the ramp next to the trailer, we were a couple feet apart.

“I said ‘Why did you have to do that?’ There was no screaming or yelling or swearing. He goes ‘He hit me three times, he tried to run me into the fence.’ I said ‘Rich, maybe I’m misremembering, but he never touched you.’ He said ‘He hit me so hard in the door it buckled my hood.’ I said ‘Where?’ And he said ‘He tried to run me into the fence.’ I said ‘Rich, you haven’t been within six feet of the fence in three years.’ He said ‘Whatever’ and I said ‘You didn’t have to do that, that’s ridiculous.’

“At that point I kind of waved my hands and turned away to step away. His four [crew members] were on the ramp of the trailer and no one was saying a word. One of them decided to be a brave guy and he said ‘[Expletive] you, get the [expletive] out of here or I’ll get you out of here.’ I said ‘What?’ And he took another step toward me and I popped him.”

Track owner and race director Terry Eames was unavailable for comment about the incident Sunday evening. It’s unclear at this point if there will be any punishment by the track for any parties involved going forward.

Fearn said he’s not sure if Rocco will be able to continue to run for the championship in the division. Fearn said his car sustained $10,000 to $15,000 in damage and will not be repaired before the next event Saturday. Fearn said the team is looking to find a car for Rocco to race this coming Saturday to keep him in the points battle.

Despite the wreck Saturday, Rocco still leads the division’s standings. Staskowski and Moltz are tied for second, eight points behind Rocco.

Check the Sid’s View webisode below from Saturday’s Late Model event to view the incident between Rocco and Staskowski on Saturday (about four minutes into the video).

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  1. Looking at sids view it is pretty clear that Rocco stuff the kid in the door coming off 4. So Keith isn’t mr innocent.

  2. Slight contact off of turn four is racing, hooking right rear entering turn 1 is not. Pretty clear that the 5 car was intending on junking Rocco and he was successful. The Speedbowl should have parked the 5 for the night. Rocco might be aggressive, but I’ve never seen him hook someone entering the turn. Real racecar drivers know that is not a safe move on any racetrack.

  3. I dont think kieth would have to stuff him in the door. I mean lets be serious that 1 car leaves everyone else in the stone age. Staskowski should be embarrased. He runs in the middle of the track every week. I dont think kieth could of got lower to acommodate the middle lane the 5 car runs.

  4. The Mayor needs to view that footage again. There is no way Keith was close enough to take the 1 out….I really don’t understand why people need to make this sport so dirty. It’s a competitive sport…and on top of it very dangerous. Absolutely no reason to potentially kill a driver because you’re a hater. Win or lose….have some respect!

  5. The Senator says

    Its easy to see why no Mod tour owner wants anything to do with Rocco.

  6. @Junior..It’s Kieth not Keith learn to spell. In addition, I remember Keith a couple of years ago wrecking Tyler Chadwick every chance he got but hey that’s fine or when he was running Yuhas into the wall oh yeah that’s fine too..not.

  7. Oh wait its Keith haha..I pulled a junior

  8. all you keith haters are obviously not that bright he flat out owns the bowl like in 95 and 96 we did with broderick and jerry no sight pearl tried to wreck us every week the five car and tean need glasses so they can watch a real driver go keith and jeff rocco

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