Fast Start: Keith Rocco Rolls To SK Modified Victory At Thompson Speedway Icebreaker

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Sunday at Thompson Speedway

THOMPSON – Talk of getting cars out of the garage and ready for competition. Race car haulers heading to tracks. The sounds of engines firing.

All sure fire signs that racing season is ready to go in Southern New England.

But the most definitive sign that another short track racing seaon has begun in Connecticut? Keith Rocco standing in victory lane.

The most dominant driver across the spectrum of SK Modified racing in 2017 picked right back up where he left off last year Sunday.

Rocco came out on top of a feisty mid-race duel with Todd Owen and went on to win the 30-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American SK Modified feature Sunday at the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway.

It was the perfect start of defense of his 2017 SK Modified championship at Thompson for Rocco, of Wallingford.

“It’s always good to get a jump on the season and start with a victory,” Rocco said. “… There’s no better way to start the season than with a win. … We’ve got a good car and we’ve got a good team.”

Owen, of Somers, was second and Troy Talman of Oxford, Mass. was third.

Owen jumped out to the lead early with Rocco clawing toward the front through the opening stages. Rocco got by Woody Pitkat for second place on lap five.

By lap 15 Rocco took his first shot under Owen in turn three, but it was Owen fighting back in turn four on the outside to keep hold of the top spot. Rocco took another peak a lap later, but again Owen deftly defended the lead.

The two came to the start/finish line side-by-side to conclude lap 17. Rocco got a run off turn two on lap 18 and was able to clear Owen for the lead going into turn three.

“It was absolutely fun,” Rocco said. “I made a joke to him today when we were sitting on the grid. I said ‘It was way to early yesterday to use you up, but today is another story.’ We laughed. He said ‘I guess I’d rather win the feature than a heat.’ So I ended up winning the feature. But Todd’s fun to race with. He’s an old school guy, builds his own stuff. He’ll race you hard and he’ll race you clean.

“Usually when you do that slide job like that it’s got to be one and done. You cant waste any time because you’ll lose ground. But my car was working really good on the bottom and we were able to run side-by-side which is pretty unheard of here, so that was probably great for the fans.”


  1. Congrats to Keith on your win . But also to Todd Owen for tour runner up finish. Those Chassis Pro cars are getting better. And the R.A.D. power stronger. Can’t wait to see you and Josh at Stafford this year. I predict wins.

  2. Race dude says

    I think what your seeing is R.A.D. starting to catch up to Pettit as far as horsepower and torque. Don Wood spends countless hours on the Dyno trying things and also has a Chassis Dyno. You can gain allot when your drivetrain lines up. All comes down to allot of hard work. Todd Owens has also put in long hours making the cars better.

  3. Been & Eileen Dover says

    Yes RAD is very impressive… Don’t know what Woody was thinking…. Beating the hell out of the side of the three the entire race then ends up on the short end of the stick and looses it.. Then drives into the guy after the race… Very not cool and childish… He should be penalized and forced to pay for the #3’s damages.

  4. Didn’t see any report on the 375 latemodel race 26 cars is impressive for a new division and I think it was the most exciting race of the day – perfect speed to race side by side

  5. sour grapes of wrath says

    the incident was seen differently on social media posted by mertz racing… perhaps woody should get petit or RAD power ???

  6. Brian Raymond Nye says

    I was happy for Troy and thought he ran a good clean race. I also couldn’t figure out why Woody was so upset. Seems to me Woody thought Troy should have stuck his car up in the marbles just cause he was under him. Troy did the right thing not giving Woody enough room on the bottom to pull off the pass considering it was the last couple laps. I’ve watched with my own two eyes Woody do the exact same thing when he was a young and up coming driver.Now on lap one no you don’t drive it that hard but last couple laps no freaking way Woody can tell me he would have driven it any different. Hypocrite!!!!

  7. Brian Raymond Nye says

    Really hope your being sarcastic. That race sucked!!! Side by side racing my butt looked like a single file parade especially up front. Every once and a while a mid pack car would stick a nose in but never fight for a spot. Those cars came off the track clean looking like they hadn’t even been run. No wonder there’s no more pro-stock divisions around here,the racing is boring.

  8. WeldingWonders says

    We all see what we want to see based on our interest and what we know.
    The Sportsman 375 was in only it’s second race as a tour. They showed up with a full field and the racing was outstanding based on lead changes, # of cars in the lead pack, movement of fast cars to the front and and an exciting ending.
    The SK race you could say was mundane if you wanted to. First half was mostly follow the leader. Rocco passed Owen which was fun, cruised mostly and how many times has that played out at the Ct track over the last year. Watching Preece move up was fun as was seeing Talman surprise and Woody be Woody.
    The races are now available on youtube to enjoy. Clearly the 375 Sportsman race was outstanding. The SK’s were entertaining mostly if you knew the personalities involved but the on track drama was competition light.
    It won’t happen this season but wouldn’t it be nice to see the 375 Sportsman at Stafford. Essentially they are vintage late 80’s and 90’s Late Models. How great would it be to see a full field on a slower track clanging a banging in the corners like the days gone by?

  9. John Davis says

    You guys are on crack if you think Woody did anything to the 3. The kid hooked a left on him on the front straightaway and sent him sliding through the grass and he ended up in the middle of turns one and two. The 3 could of seriously got someone hurt or killed doing things like that. That kid is an absolute moron that thinks he’s Kieth rocco cause he mommy and daddy paid keith for that ride! No wonder why Woody was so mad. You bleacher creepers need to put some 👓 glasses on!!

  10. John Davis says

    Beating the hell out of the 3 the whole race ?
    He was only around him for 3 of the 30 laps!

  11. Been & Eileen Dover says

    We don’t need glasses Mr Davis, you need to stop drinking the Woody Kool aid!!! Woody got back what he was giving out!!! To be continued…. See ya in Stafford:-)

  12. John Davis says

    What did he give out ?
    He was only around troy for half a lap
    Your brain dead as bad as Talman

  13. Brian Raymond Nye says

    It’s called racing John they sometimes make contact and not all contact is intentional. Now unless you were sitting in Woody’s car how do you know for sure who came up or down to cause the contact. I’d for sure rather be hooked on the left rear than the right rear that’s the move that gets people hurt. I don’t think Woody was beating on Troy I think it was just hard racing on both there parts and some miss judgement on whether or not Woody had cleared the 3. For all we know Woody’s spotter could have said clear and he moved down just as easily as Troy saw Woody and over drove it going in. Either way it’s a racing incident and part of reason so many people enjoy racing is seeing that passion and desire to win. Now after the checkers driving into a competitor is bush league and actually causes your own crew more work. Real smart.

  14. John Davis says

    Turning left on a guy on the straightaway is Busch league that’s how people get hurt and when did anyone hit anyone after the race? Woody pulled up along side of him to let him no he wasn’t happy but never hit him!

  15. I agree Mr. Davis. I watched Woody’s in-car camera replay. There was no contact whatsoever, only what looked like a near miss on the back stretch when they were side by side on a restart. The 3 just turned left in to him coming down the front stretch without any apparent provocation. I through he was going to get t-boned when he slid up into traffic. A bonehead move for sure and a spectacular save by Woody.

  16. A lesser driver would have wrecked. Woody made a great save. Hooking a car in the right rear is just plain dirty driving, as well as stupid especially if it’s intentional.

  17. David John says

    after watching go pro, looked like 6 doored 3 on backstretch and 3 retaliated on frontstretch. I saw with my own eyes the 6 smash 3’s lf after race was over, that is bush league !

  18. Brian Raymond Nye says

    Now I know your just a Woody fan and see what you want to see. Woody definitely hit Troy after the race going down the backstretch and into turn 3 we’re I was sitting in turn 4 it was clear.

  19. Hitting after the flag ain’t right, and surely not smart. Having known Woody since he was about 10 years old, I would expect better from him. Allot of times drivers drop the window net, and undo their belts and helmet strap. Punting someone then can lead to serious injuries. I’ve also seen drivers brake check someone their upset with after the flag,not smart.

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