Backing It Up: Keith Rocco Rallies From Heat Race Wreck To Win SK Mod Feature At Waterford

Keith Rocco (Photo: 122 West/NASCAR)

Keith Rocco (Photo: 122 West/NASCAR)

WATERFORD – Keith Rocco is like a stingy virus to the competition in the SK Modified field at the Waterford Speedbowl.

When the competition thinks they’ve shook him, he just keeps coming back and knocking them down again and again.

And that was the case once again Saturday at the Speedbowl.

After a massive crash in his heat race that forced him to a backup car, Rocco started deep in the field, rallied from an early race incident and won the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl.

“I’ve got an awesome team behind me,” Rocco said. “Nights like this are the one’s you really enjoy because you’ve really got to work for them. Just when you think they’ve got you beat you pull something like that out of your hat. It’s awesome.”

It was the second victory in four SK Modified features at Waterford this year. Rocco, of Wallingford, has finished second in the other two races this year.

Tim Jordan of Plainfield was second and Kyle James of Ashaway, R.I.

After getting wrecked in the heat race, Rocco’s father Ronnie went to Wallingford to get the car the team runs regularly at Thompson Speedway.

“Last time that car ran was the Icebreaker [at Thompson on April 6],” Rocco said. “Granted we won [the feature at Thompson], but I haven’t touched [the car] since the Icebreaker. My father went and got it, we had to finish bolting the shocks back on it and ran it the way it was. Everybody was like, ‘Do you want to change the gear? Let’s change the rear end.’ I was like, ‘It’s not even worth it.’ To win with gears like that in that car, I’m just pretty shocked myself.

“My father made some record time going to get this car and getting back. If it wasn’t for my father I wouldn’t be in victory lane. He was the one that said ‘Go get that car.’”

Rocco started 20th and was working his way quickly through the field before being forced to the pits with 27 laps remaining to make repairs after being involved in an accident. He came back on track and fired back through the field again.

Jordan went by Joe Gada for the lead on the fourth lap. By lap 20 Rocco was haunting the leaders again.

Rocco went by Diego Monahan for second on a restart with 16 laps remaining, but lost second place to James with six laps remaining. On a restart with five laps left, Rocco went under James for second place and a lap later he went under Jordan for the lead heading into turn one.

“Timmy was using up a lot of racetrack,” Rocco said. “I was really trying to go to the top. I was trying to work him over very clean and he wasn’t giving me much room on the top. Kyle James just got the nose in there [with six laps left]. The only shot I had was that [last] restart and I just had to make it work. Good side-by-side racing though.”

Jordan, a former Late Model champion at Waterford in his first season running full-time in the SK Modified division had his best finish in the division.

“We lost so it wasn’t good obviously,” Jordan said. “It’s kind of embarrassing, we should run better than this.”

James said mechanical issues with his car before the final restart took away any opportunity he had to challenge for the victory.

“We had a real good car,” James said. “I thought we were going to have something there for Timmy. But before went green [on the last restart] I went to heat the tires up and something broke in right front caliper. We had no brakes on that last run. But it was fun watching them battle. We’ll take a third. We’ve had nothing but bad luck to start the season. This is what we needed.”

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  1. Amazing that only one driver didn’t make the feature after all those heat wrecks.

  2. I have my popcorn out waiting for the Rocco haters to come out to play… Last night I heard everything from “they won with a Thompson car, that’s illegal” to “that car wasn’t qualified they shouldn’t have been allowed to race”… The bottom line is they had all their ducks in a row and knew what to do in a time of crisis. Instead of panicking, they found a way to overcome adversity. Most teams would be sitting in the parking lot drinking beer at that point… What Rocco and his entire team did last night was what wins championships.

  3. It was an amazing race ! If you could have seen those people working furiously on the car you would be surprised.

  4. No matter what any of the haters say you can not deny that this Kid is the real deal. Noone works harder at racing than Kid Roc and his crew they deserve and earn everything they get (wins). This is not some rich kid racing on his Dads $$$$ its a shame that they dont get a shot at the big leagues

  5. Andy da woodchuck says

    He had his chance when Kyle Busch came knocking with a truck ride but as all things in the world money makes it turn and he has “0” to bring to the big boy table. Every racer/racing fan knows that money talks in NASCAR.

  6. Not a Keith hater in anyway he is a talent that deserves a mod tour ride but what happened at Waterford was a joke,first off it was a Thompson car which is illegal according to RULE BOOKS,cranks are different intakes,gears so to say he works hard we know that but to rearrange all the features to allow him to go get the other car and slight RAIN delay which I was there and it didn’t rain was a massive joke.Then to not even tech his car was a bigger joke especially when everyone knew it was his Thompson car.Like I said not a hater but that’s ridiculous what the track did if it was some small no name who lived close and wanted to do this they would not have done anything like they did for Keith,been racing there since the late 1980’s and have seen it first hand.

  7. Modfan,
    I can’t speak to exactly just how the Waterford Speedbowl and Thompson Speedway rules align, though much was made in the offseason about the two tracks aligning the rules for all Whelen All-American Series rules this season. To say all the features were “rearranged” is actually 100 percent false. The SK Modifieds ran in the exact same place in the feature order that they had been scheduled to run before the night began. The focus was on getting the SPECIAL 50-lap Street Stock feature run and with weather coming the decision was made to switch that with the Mini Stock feature. Smart move considering the weather that was expected did actually come. The SK Modified feature was scheduled to be second to last on the racing card when the night began and that was exactly where it rain. As far as your statement that you were there and it didn’t rain? That’s a doozy. It was raining. Usually water falling from the sky and hitting the ground is an indication that it is raining.

  8. just reviewed both rule books and Waterford is cast intake oem 2 barrel,stock type cast heads,oem rods among other things. Thompson is 7101 aluminum intake,dart heads,scat crank not oem crank,manley or crower rods so to say their similar is a far chance in hell,even engine builders say their different lets just cut the BS and say favoritism plain and simple because without Keith and the national points the bowl has NOTHING!!!! Everyone comes on here like a know it all I’m just pointing out the FACTS in black and white rule books I can send you a copy?? I’ve been around racing since Danbury,Plainville days so your not going to tell me anything I don’t know but whatever it will fall on dead ears just like it has for years that’s why we got out it’s all who you blow I mean know.

  9. Modfan,
    So does this mean you’re backing off your statements from before that the entire schedule was rearranged Saturday for Keith’s benefit and also your statement that the rain delay was fake and that it never really rained?

  10. Fan of the Modfan says

    Umm Modfan, and thats what you are is just a fan. I believe you missed the entire Spec engine section in the rule books… You know the one that is the same for all three CT tracks. So unless you are reading a rule book from 2011 you sound like a complete nit wit. Hope this doesnt fall on Dead ears lol. Keep dreaming, Keep hating, Keep ranting. Everyone loves when an idiot post something.

  11. modfan “Everyone comes on here like a know it all I’m just pointing out the FACTS..” “and slight RAIN delay which I was there and it didn’t rain was a massive joke”
    The only joke there, is you. I was returning from the pits in my car, and I can tell you that all that moisture on my windshield was not from inside the car. When the SS race was red-checkered, I returned to my hauler and got out of the car, and everything was wet. We call that rain. Granted, it was very brief, but it was enough to wet the track.
    Shawn is also absolutely correct. The scheduled order as far as the Mods, never changed.

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