Back It Up: Eric Berndt Gets Two Wins, Overall Victory In SK Mod 20/20 Sprint At Thompson

Eric Berndt celebrates winning the Sunoco Modified 20/20 Sprint for the SK Modified division Wednesday at Thompson Speedway

Eric Berndt celebrates winning the Sunoco Modified 20/20 Sprint for the SK Modified division Wednesday at Thompson Speedway

THOMPSON – With his regular driver Keith Rocco chasing a Whelen All-American Series national championship, SK Modified team owner Todd Ceravolo brought a backup car to Thompson Speedway Wednesday simply in the hopes of beefing up the car count numbers to help in gaining national points.

But when not enough cars showed up at the track to count for a full-field, Ceravolo gave his backup driver Eric Berndt the green light to go for victory.

That was all Berndt needed to hear.

Berndt, who hasn’t raced regularly in an SK Modified at Thompson in over 10 years, won two of three segments of the Sunoco Modified 20/20 Sprint for the SK Modified division to easily capture the overall victory for the event.

Berndt, of Cromwell, was the 2003 SK Modified champion at Thompson. He runs regularly in the SK Modified division at Stafford Motor Speedway.

“It felt great,” Berndt said. “I hadn’t been here in an SK [Modified] in about 10 years. This place is just a great place to run. You’ve got so much room. It took me a warmup just to get used to [turns] three and four, that big wide area that was never there for me before. But it’s a place that you can come back to and you don’t forget it.”

The overall standings were based total of the finishing positions fot three events. With two victories and a second place finish, Berndt finished with four points.

Woody Pitkat of Stafford was second overall in the 20/20 Sprint standings with nine points (three third place finishes) and Keith Rocco of Wallingford was third with 10 points (two seconds and a sixth).

“We’ve been friends with Eric forever and he’s just a great kid and a great guy with a great family so that’s why we chose him to race here today,” Ceravolo said. “We really just came for the car count for the guys racing for the [Whelen All-American Series national championship] and there weren’t enough cars after all so I just told Eric ‘If you can win it, win it.’”

Said Berndt: “It started out being a field-filler to help Keith out with the nationals. Then we get up here and there’s not enough cars and so it didn’t matter really. Even if Keith won it wasn’t going to give him a lot of points, so they gave me the green light and the rest is history. The car was good.”

In the first 20-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Preece went by Adam Norton for the lead on a lap 11 restart and went unchallenged the rest of the way to victory .

“We started off a little free and the car actually came to us when we got out in clean air, so it helped us a lot,” Preece said.

Berndt was second in the first segment and Pitkat third.

Berndt followed up his runner-up showing in the first feature by winning the second 20-lap feature. Rocco was second and Pitkat third.

In the second feature, Preece was flying up through the field at the start and was up to fourth by lap three, but on lap five he slowed and headed to the pits with a broken distributor.

As Preece limped to the infield on lap six, Pitkat moved by Nick Ladyga for the lead. But Ladyga’s wreck on lap 17 set up Berndt’s move to victory lane.

On the ensuing restart, Berndt moved from third past Rocco for second and then by Pitkat for the lead and held on for victory.

“The caution definitely helped us,” Berndt said. “We pushed Woody past Keith [on the restart] and then had a run on him going down the backstretch. I’ll definitely take it.”

In the final 10-lap segment Berndt started on the pole. On the first lap Pitkat made a move to get by for the lead, but a spinning car in turn two brought out the caution and negated the start, but not before Berndt and Pitkat had contact on the frontstretch coming to the caution flag.

Berndt shook off the contact though, fighting off Pitkat on the second attempt at a start before cruising easily to victory.

Rocco was second in the third segment and Pitkat third.


  1. Wow. Can you say hypocritical? This sounds like an all too familiar tale. Table have turned. Disgusting. Insulting. I am appalled. Keith loses the national championship after his opponent’s team uses field fillers. And now he’s doing it? Wow.

  2. Jason,
    Get what you’re saying but you’re comparing apples to broccoli here. I’d have to say comparing bringing one very competitive car to the track to help numbers is quite different than bringing five or more cars that have no business being on the track whatsoever.

  3. the bigger question is…….why were there only 14 cars for a spotlight event?

  4. I agree it’s completely different. Can’t really say Rocco did anything wrong when his ‘field filler’ wins the race.

  5. So glad to see Eric in victory lane at Thompson! He is a wheelman. Give him a good car and he will run upfront. I hate to say it but maybe it is time he gets a new crew chief for Stafford.

  6. Jason doesn’t sound to bright…’s not a field filler if it wins the race. Very silly to write somthing so dumb.

  7. Ray Skoglund says

    Eric has always been a very good driver. His luck hasn’t been good for a very long time. Great family, Fine young man! I’ll bet father Timmy is very proud today!

  8. Thompson is not the same as it WAS no car count 13 car on a track that big can you say boring. no teddy no Justin no galko ect.

  9. Pitgatelady says

    Jason don’t be a hater, it wasn’t a start and park car. Duh !

  10. Just my thoughts... says

    Congrats to Eric, it was nice to see him in Victory Lane again, that being said, does anyone know if that car was changed back to Sunoco Modified legal after it ran on the Tri Track Open Modified Series? It appeared that the 76 car was better than the 16 car last night and just wonder why Keith was not in the 76 as he is the one chasing the National points? Again, just my thoughts…

  11. At this point if there’s not 18 cars in the field it won’t count toward the national points. So every race at stafford and thompson from here forward won’t help Rocco or Preece. I’m also hearing that there will be even less cars at stafford this week?? Should we chalk this up to that terrible race director.

  12. Pitgatelady says

    Could be Thompson only runs 7 or so races a year ?

  13. Nice run by the 38SK, he ran strong all night until he broke. Late Model race wasn’t bad, 18 Late models.

  14. old man racer says

    Read it again. Keith Rocco’s father in law brought a car to fill the field, and was told not to be competitive until they found out that there were not enough cars to count for national points.

  15. Toby T. Why are there going to b less cars at stafford this week

  16. Nice for Eric ! Great to see him win !

  17. Yes Jason that was quite a dumb thing to say. Do you even know what your comparing? Not even close to what Anders was doing down south. Besides it’s not the first time Rocco had a field filler to try to help him out. But that’s the point, he gets one car to help if needed not a handful of start and parks. And Chris, did you watch the LM race yesterday? Worst most boring race of the night. And great run by the 38 sk. Talk about body slamming the 36 out of the way. I understand that’s how you pass at Thompson but he took it to a whole other level. That was ridiculous in my opinion. But when the 38 wrecked I figure that’s what you call karma. And 14 cars on a night when the mods took center stage. Talk about pathetic. If Ceravolo hadn’t brought his backup it would have been 13. Think about that. No sugar coating what’s going on up there. If management wants to get rid of circle track racing they’re doing a pretty good job of trying. Back when they were struggling to get 10 modifieds to the track a few years ago I said that they needed to do something drastic. I had thought maybe trying Sunday shows. But instead they get rid of weekly racing and build a road course. From day one I knew the place was doomed when they first announced their plans. But many of you thought this was a wonderful idea. If next year or soon after all they have left is running 4 or five tour shows, sadly I will not be surprised. It’s just a shame because it is a great track and 10-15 years ago things were looking up. Can’t keep blaming the economy anymore.

  18. I’ would think the Ceravolo’s would like to bring the 16 to stafford, don’t think they have a win there yet, would complete the cycle

  19. Stafford is also useless with their car counts and so lame program. Wish it would be different. But no direction at all from Stafford. If 18 is the number Had 17 last week and 15 the week before. horrible management .

  20. old observer says

    Comparing the 76/16 to what Anders did is not even close, the 76 is a real race car & not a field filler.
    Even if he had team orders to let KR pass him, he wasn’t there to start & park! Anders had several cars from lower classes there to pad the field. A side note, Preece’s team had a backup car there that stayed in the trailer.
    August normally sees a reduced car count but I think this year it has came quicker because of the over aggressive driving & resultant crashing. Racing ain’t cheep!!!
    Not sure what Stafford’s SK problem is because last year they had the best show around but now they have become a crash fest, like they were originally.
    Maybe all you bitchers should enjoy what you have before it is all gone. Read Bone’s article in the latest SI

  21. blackbear says

    old observer- I agree that August is usually a time for some dropouts every year. Stafford is likely seeing that statistic a bit earlier this year because they havent had any rainouts. Not a single rainout since the spring sizzler. We would typically be coming close to an ending of the season with how many races Stafford has run this year. This will be week #15. I remember only last year or 2 years ago there were so many rainouts that I’m not sure there were 15 races in the entire season. Thats pretty rough on the wallets.

  22. With the low counts maybe Stafford will run the tour race before the SKs next Friday for a change.

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