Carry Over: Keith Rocco Wins SK Modified Feature At Stafford NAPA Spring Sizzler

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Sunday at the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

Editors note: Following post race inspection penalties were levied to second place finisher Mike Christopher Jr. and fourth place finisher Glen Reen for weight violations. Per Stafford rules, drivers are docked one position per pound they are in underweight. Christopher was dropped from second to 13th in the running order. Reen was dropped from fourth to ninth. 

STAFFORD – Keith Rocco closed out the 2017 racing season at Stafford Motor Speedway as the hottest driver on the property, winning the final two SK Modified features of the season on the way to the division championship.

Sunday at Stafford Rocco showed that the chill of winter in no way cooled his heated roll at the historic half-mile oval.

In a marathon-long wreck marred event that took an hour and 11 minutes to complete, Rocco never swayed from the top spot, leading every lap on the way to victory in the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified at the NAPA Spring Sizzler Sunday at Stafford Speedway.

Rocco, of Wallingford, started on the pole and held off charges from Glen Reen, Mike Christopher Jr. and Ronnie Williams on the way to victory lane.

“Yesterday in the heat race with the plus-minus system we passed the most cars,” Rocco said. “We were the best car yesterday in the heat race. Today we got a curve ball thrown at us. We didn’t quite have the best car, but we had a car to stay out front and we started out front. I’ve got to thank my whole team. John and Maina Rufrano, they built us a brand new car over the winter and I can’t thank them enough.”

The race was slowed by 14 cautions and an extended red flag period for liquid cleanup.

“Starting on the pole is one thing,” Rocco said. “You start on the pole and there’s only one place to go and that’s backwards. The Sizzler is always a long race filled with cautions. Always a lot of restarts. It’s just, it gets you kind of nervous and anxious to get back green all the time, especially with the long yellows and the reds.”

“It’s been a long time since we won a Sizzler. It gives the team a lot of momentum going into the first Friday night.”

Christopher, of Wolcott, ended up second. Williams, of Tolland, was third.

Christopher got by Williams for second on the final restart on lap 38, but didn’t have enough to catch Rocco out front over the closing laps.

Christopher, who started in the SK Modified division at Stafford in 2015, was making his first start driving for the team formerly operated by his uncle, the late Ted Christopher, who is the all-time winningest driver at Stafford Motor Speedway. Ted Christopher was killed in a plane crash last September.

“We were close,” Mike Christopher Jr. said. “I have a really good piece behind me right now. Strong support. I’ve really got to thank my mom and dad, my uncle Ted and my aunty Quinn for letting me drive this car. I’m really excited for the season because I know we have a great piece. I expect a lot of battles like that to continue the rest of the year.”

Williams was making his first start for team owner Adam Skowyra.

“We couldn’t really catch a break,” Williams said. “[Rocco] missed a restart on one. [Mike Christopher Jr.] missed a restart on another. But I just can’t thank these guys enough. [Team owner Adam Skoywra] and those guys. I’ve been going down to the shop and seeing what type of team they are and I’m definitely happy I made the move to go over to them. It’s going to be a good year and hopefully we’ll end up in victory lane soon.”

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  1. Viva race fan says

    He may be a good driver but he still a punk.

  2. Agree with ya Viva. But how about Mike Christopher Jr in TC’s equipment, Great job and a good start to the season. This kid is going to be one to watch.

  3. 1hr and 11 min for the best weekly div in New England, how does that happen??? Late Model race not much better!

  4. What is this plus minus system?

  5. Mike Jr listed in 13th, under weight?

  6. That ‘race’ was B-R-U-T-A-L.

  7. How can he be 13th? If he was under weight you get DQ’d don’t you

  8. Not Blind as a Bat says

    LM, 1 spot per pound you’re under I believe.

  9. Seems like the order of the day whenI see SK racing.Always a crash fest.Didn’t think it would ever end.If the weekly racing is so good why does this happen when the tour comes to town?Man alive couldn’t even get a lap in.

  10. Does he get the Kevin Harvick Money for finishing 13? There we’re not 13 cars running at the end. What a long boring wreck fest from the best division??? The sk lights had the best racing of the day.

  11. Been & Eileen Dover says

    No coverage of the Lite race?? Couldn’t believe it, the show with the least amount of cautions… 1!!! Now let’s think about MCJR’s 13th place finish do to weight penalty… Guess who received Harvick’s bonus?!?!

  12. The sk racing was good, the cautions killed it. Good battle for the top 4 spots all day long. Reen caused a few wrecks, cost Mike Jr the win (would have lost it in tech) wish Reen would stay in the late models.
    Sk lites were good Narducchi was the show. The tour race is like watching paint dry, I went home after the sk race came back two hours later and they only completed 107 laps, then I had to watch single file racing with the leader a straight away lead (half the field laps down) till the caution flew at lap 150, cars pit three times for tires (that is exciting) then a few laps of racing then Preece wins by a straight away…. 80 laps is enough!!!! JMO

  13. Been & Eileen Dover,
    There was a story posted last night about the SK Light Modified race.

  14. Been & Eileen Dover says

    My Bad Sir!! Thanks for the reporting!! I check this site out religiously!!

  15. Robert Cayton says

    If you think 200 laps at Stafford was brutal, what do you think 250 laps at Loudon in September is going to be like?

  16. Robert Cayton, you bring up a good point. There are lots of new drivers on the Tour, and that will be a factor since most of them are inexperienced at Loudon. But once they wreck out, the last 150 laps or so should be good. Loudon usually does not have an excessive cautions problem.

  17. you want to talk about dedicated fans hardly anyone left in that weather and stayed for sk lights you have to love northeast race fans

  18. DQ to last position on lead lap , only 11 cars on track at end

  19. Race 413. says

    11 pounds light for MCJ 5 for Glen Reen. Given the weather being so cold and the extreme amount of cautions both should have gotten a warning.
    11 pounds is about 1 3/8 gallons of fuel, with the cold day would have burned that up on caution laps. Although 1 position per pound is better than DQ which means you finish worst than last and get no valuable points. When we ran in LM our car always came out 15-20 pounds over even when they gave a weight break for the extra distance events, because it’s better to be over than out. Whoever was 13th before the penalties should have gotten the TC13 bonus.

  20. SK ModFan says

    The weight issue is worse than what is being reported. At the scales, Jr was around 23 lbs light but Stafford rules give you .05% variance for “race ware” so officially he was 11 lbs under. Reen, who should stay in LM, was closer to 17 lbs light but ended up 5 after the rule. Outright cheating but why? You will get caught.

  21. Great insight SK mod fan. What I’m wondering is if MCJ got the KHI TC bonus for being penalized to 13th, or did the guy who actually finished 13th get it? Seems to me the bonus money should be pre-penalty. And what about Reen being penalized to 8th, the guy who ran 8th all day ends up losing $ 25 not allot but it adds up ( 13th lost $15). Maybe they should go to .06% and if your under it’s a DQ, because it don’t seem fair to the cars being displaced both in money and points.

  22. Where’s Doug? Has anybody seen Doug? I can’t find DOUG! HEY DOUG WHERE ARE YOU???

  23. Right here reading the articles and enjoying your comments Rob.

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