Keith Rocco Holds Off Justin Bonsignore In Barnburner SK Modified Feature At Stafford

Keith Rocco

Keith Rocco

STAFFORD – On Saturday night Keith Rocco will go to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl looking to make history at the track, with a chance to become the all-time winningest driver at the shoreline oval.

Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway Rocco set the tone for the weekend.

Rocco, of Wallingford, held off Justin Bonsignore in dramatic style to win the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway.

It was the first SK Modified feature win of the season at Stafford for Rocco.

“This car was awesome tonight,” Rocco said. “… It kept us up front all night. Tonight was an off night in our tire program and man this thing loves the old tires just as much as it loves the new ones.”

Rocco is one victory away from tying Phil Rondeau’s all-time leading 106 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. He will compete in both the SK Modified and Late Model features Saturday at Waterford. He won both features on opening night at the Speedbowl last Saturday.


“When you come and you run good, even last week we finished second and I thought we had the car to win last week,” Rocco said. “And that was a good feeling going into Saturday. Your spirits are up, you’re competitive, you want more.”

At Stafford, Bonsignore, of Holtsville, N.Y., was second and Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, N.Y. third.

Rocco moved past Eric Berndt for second on lap 14 and then inherited the lead on lap 16 when Ryan Preece went to the pits with a tire issue.

On a lap 16 restart, Berndt went by Rocco for the lead, but Rocco fought back two laps later to take over the top spot again.

Bonsignore got to second by Berndt and then used a diving move to get under Rocco for the lead in turn four on lap 22. But Rocco continued to hound Bonsignore and went back to the lead into turn three on lap 27.

Rocco then held off Bonsignore’s charges over two more restarts.

“The SK Modified division is the fiercest competition in the country due to Stafford Motor Speedway,” Rocco said. “It was fun. You’ve got all the best drivers there are in the country as far as I’m concerned. Probably a good quarter of the top notch [Whelen Modified] Tour drivers in the SK [Modified] division. So it’s a lot of fun to get up there and race like that.”

Bonsignore, a regular on the Whelen Modified Tour, like Rocco and Pennink, is in his first year running full-time in the SK Modified division at Stafford.

“It was a good run for us,” Bonsignore said. “We didn’t start the season the way we really wanted to. A lot of new car bugs. But the Art [Barry], Ken [Barry] … did a great job figuring everything out. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

“We definitely showed tonight what we can do. … It was fun to race with Keith. I was kind of messing up. I kept hooking him, my timing is off on passing compared to a [Whelen Modified] Tour car. But it was a good race and something to build on for next week. … I had to pick up the aggressiveness. I haven’t run weekly like this for a few years.”

Pennink rallied for his third podium finish in three events this year.

“We were there at the finish,” Pennink said. “I got caught up in a whole bunch of messes out there. I got in the wrong lane just about every time. We were up to sixth, back to 10th, it felt like 15th. But the 99 car was awesome.”

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  1. Chris D. says

    Bad job by Stafford Speedway tonite during the national anthem…legends cars roaring through the pit area, pit announcer yelling out instructions to the legend car teams, and nascar officials( I use that term loosely) driving around on golf carts with their hats on, all while the national anthem was being performed! It takes all of 2 minutes for the national anthem, c’mon Mark and Jackie, bad job by your staff!

  2. That’s a little harsh. You couldn’t hear that the anthem was playing over the PA in the pits, the Pit Announcer has her job to do(which she does a damn good job at!), and soon as the official on the golf kart realized that it was playing, he stopped, stood up, and took off his hat.
    I was right there, and the only reason I knew it was playing was because I saw everyone else standing towards the flag.

  3. great job guys. a step(drive} in the right direction.

  4. good job for the SPAFCO crew a second is better than last week . lets keep up the good work. nice job of driving justin be aggressive.

  5. modguy96 says

    heck of a race, ready for next Friday!

  6. Chris D. says

    So LJ I ask you… Why didn’t you know the anthem was playing, cuz you couldn’t hear over the pit announcer, that’s my point. All it would take is 2 minutes to stop all action in the pits so EVERYONE who wants to honor America could do so without listening to a legends car. I guess you don’t think honoring your country is important, Well I do. The legends feature could wait 2 MINUTES!

  7. Sharpie Fan says

    1. You can hear the national anthem in parts of the pits as you will notice many of the crews standing in observance.
    2. Kim is the best pit announcer we have had since Rich Keator used to do it.
    3. Whatever happened to the rule about not firing engines during the drivers’ meeting?

  8. Sicklajoie says

    Chris, none of the speakers in the pits were working until halfway through the night.

  9. Chris D. says

    Geez, I must be an old fashioned dinosaur stuck in the past! Note to self, National Anthem is just not that important…my bad

  10. Joe tobin says

    I agree with Chris D 100%

  11. back in the day -before NEW AMERICA at the Danbury Racearena the drivers got out of there cars to RESPECT the flag before the feature race you mean to tell me you knuckleheads cant line the legends up at least stop there cars and do the National Anthem it would take so much more time for THEM TO OPEN THER DOOR AND GET OUT OF THERE CARS what a disgrace!

  12. Chris D. says

    Thanks Joe and Mike…I guess some people just don’t get it. They want the freedom America provides to do the things they enjoy, but they don’t respect the sacrifices people made so we can do things like go to auto races and other recreational events. I am confident Stafford management will fix this. By the way, I am not blaming the pit announcer, the problem starts at the top.

  13. I came out of the bathrooms next to the DMS photo booth just as the anthem began… I stepped to the side and removed my hat, viewing the infield flag though the grandstand slots.

    To Chris D’s point, I agree! I was amazed at the pit noise behind me, engines, wheel guns, you name it! …as well as the pit announcements during the song. Perhaps the pit announcer was unaware, maybe a cue feed of the main PA might help?

    @Mike M: I’ll never forget the GIANT flag that got folded up every week at Danbury Racearena! As a kid, that really stuck with me, seeing the fire dept. and Leahy crew folding that massive flag every time my parents took me to the races.

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