Spoiler: Rowan Pennink Slays Keith Rocco Record Streak With SK Mod Win At Stafford Speedway

Rowan Pennink celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

STAFFORD – Coming into Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway the biggest question around the track was if there was anyone that could find a way to top Keith Rocco in the SK Modified division.

Rocco came into the evening a perfect four-for-four in SK Modified features in 2018 at Stafford and riding a division record six-event win streak dating back to 2017.

After qualifying for the feature through the consolation heat, it hardly seemed Rowan Pennink was on the favorites list of those who could play spoiler Friday.

But in the end it was Pennink getting the job done.

Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa,. came from the 15th starting spot to win the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday on Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night at Stafford Speedway.

Ronnie Williams of Tolland was second. Chase Dowling of Roxbury was third on the track, but was later penalized to a 13th place finish for a weight violation, moving Rocco, of Wallingford, up to third place.

Rocco’s victory in the SK Modified feature on May 18 set a record for consecutive SK Modified victories at the track with six. Friday he was trying to match the track’s overall consecutive wins streak of seven, first set by Tom Rosati in the old Late Model Sportsman division in 1977 and tied by Geoff Bodine in the former Modified division in 1978.

“Awesome day here with [my] team,” Pennink said. “Congrats to Keith on his streak, but I was glad to end it there. The guys gave me an awesome car. I’ve got to thank [Doug Dunleavy] for everything he does with the Modifieds here at Stafford Motor Speedway. … There’s been a lot of great competition this year at Stafford. Keith’s been amazing, but I’m just glad to get [my car] back in victory lane and hopefully it can keep running strong the rest of the year.”

Typically, having to go through the consolation heat to qualify for the feature isn’t something a team wants to be doing, but Pennink said getting relegated to the consolation may have helped his team. Pennink pulled off the track during his heat race with a tire issue. He hit the track for the consolation after the sun went down, with track conditions closer to what he would face in the feature.

“When the [consolation heat] went out kind of late I was kind of glad because we kind of got to tune on our car in race conditions,” Pennink said. “It was a good thing. I think it helped us and we were able to get it right where we needed for the race.”

Rocco started 11th and was up to seventh on lap six when he got caught up in a multi-car wreck in turn three. Rocco went to pit road with damage and restarted the event at the rear of the 26-car field.

Pennink used a ride through the infield to avoid the wreck that Rocco was involved in. From there he worked to second by 16 and then went by Dowling for the lead off turn four on lap 17.

“My car was just turning a little bit better through the center [of the corner] than Chase’s,” Pennink said. “I got a good run down the backstretch and got underneath him into [turn] three there.”


  1. Kid isn’t all that ! Rowan is a punk! No TC or Ryan so stop …. neither is worthy of greatness please

  2. Cheaters paradise says

    Sucks that dowling was light. Was exactly 10lbs, Willie get the 13th place money now?

  3. At least he will get the Kevin Harvick money for being light

  4. The reports of the death of local short track racing may be greatly exaggerated. Modifiedz Night by any standard was a rousing success. Perfect weather, a very strong crowd and with the enthusiasm Ben Dodge and Matt Buckler were at the top of their games. As strong a car count as you could expect in the Streets, LM and LLM. SK’s and Lights absolutely chock full with consi’s needed to thin the herd and cars sent home featureless.
    Rocco was brilliant. Got in a wreck, pitted, his crew affected repairs and he came back to finish 3rd after Chase’s penalty. His charge from the rear was bold but completely in control in what was probably a ill handling car. Not a win but a night championships are made of.
    The cars of the night belonged to Pennink and Williams. Williams the fastest of the night at 19.11 but Pennink second fastest at 19.16 and with better track position. Both were so good they got in front of the wreck from their consi starting positions deep in the field before it could include them.
    Disappointments included Christopher and Berndt for wrecking before they could show their speed and Dowling for squandering a strong finish with a silly error. Also Owen who just is not up to snuff this year not being able to take advantage of a favorable starting position and early lead.
    Have to say the name SK Modified implying some kind of sportsman or sub modified level may be out of date. True at their start, not so much now. From the engines that Petite and others build to the chassis and the entire package they are like Swiss watches turning in VMRS like lap times. They are full blown modifieds.

  5. Great night of racing last night. Did Todd Owen have a problem? He was strong early and then dropped like a rock. Can someone tell me why the cars are not weighed before they go on the trac?Or why these cars keep failing the minimum weight?

  6. Doug nice story but if your car was not wrecked you were in the feature in both SK and SK Lite , nobody was sent home , but your right it was a pretty good night of racing

  7. A great night of racing. Pennink and Gervais from the consi to finish up front. Rocco doing his usual thing. Another few laps and Williams would have been leading. SK lights were good, even if Rufrano had the field covered. Thanks to Doug Dunleavy and Wheelers for upping the payouts.

  8. It’s not spitting hairs to say 60 cars raced in heats for 54 starting spots in two divisions. You can say some wrecked and didn’t make it if you like elect and aside from Amanda West you’d be mostly correct. I prefer to think that cars that wreck don’t cease to exist. That they failed to qualify. Tomato, tomaato. Point is with most tracks dealing with 10 to 20 cars in their features this was a throw back night to what once was. Great competition, full fields, enthusiastic fans and good family fun in a non NWMT event. Sorry for being so corny but I thought it was kind of a Rocky-ish come back story.

  9. Mod Man, why are you the only person to post a negative comment on what was obviously a very competitive and enjoyable night of racing? Is there anyone or anything that you can say something good about?

  10. Gerald fascione says

    Your clueless for sure and you do Teddys memory no good by your claim. And you dont even have the guts to put your real name.

  11. Jeffrey T says

    That was a great show
    Thanks joe gibbs

  12. darealgoodfella says

    Jeffrey, all of them, thanks for all your sponsorship.

  13. Congrats to Rowan and the 99 team, a well deserved win. As for Chase, being light sucks, especially only 10 pounds, that’s like 1 1/3 gallons of fuel. Wether or not he received the 13th place bonus, don’t know. The 13 the place bonus should go to the car that finished 13 the pre penalty, and any car being penalized should not get any bonus money.As far as Keith, to finish fourth with a damaged race car ain’t bad.

  14. Being 10 pounds under weight is shear stupidity. Maybe it was an honest mistake, maybe it was planned, maybe there were allot of caution laps. 10 pounds translates to about 1 1/3 gallons of fuel. When we ran we always made sure we came in 15-20 pounds over, usually by adding an extra 2 gallons of fuel. Although 10 pounds doesn’t sound like allot, but if it’s intentional that 10 pounds strategically placed can make a BIG difference. But is it worth the price of being caught? Others have been caught and it’s good to see the track being consistent in its penalty. Sucks that Chase had a great run only to have it taken away.

  15. Amazing Friday night at the races!!! Growing up, Me? I’ve always been TC fanatic 🏁💖 #rip13
    Never thought racing would ever be the same for me. Last night, the excitement in me was overwhelming once again to say the least. Keith may have lost his winning streak, however coming from the back after a wreck … To the front, like a BOSS!!! Impressive, and the excitement … WOW!!! I believe if the accident didn’t occur #88 would have been in Victory Lane once again! This Kid ROCKS!!! Skillfully talented for sure! Great show … LOVED IT 💖


    #mybaby 💖 #bleesed 🙏 #helpingawinner 😎#dreams 👼💫

  16. Jeffrey T says

    You got it dareal!!!!
    I dont mind spreading my money around..
    Hoping to get a vip box soon..if not thats ok too..i have not needed money since the 3rd grade

  17. Rocco is the best i ever seen !!!!

  18. Being 10 lbs underweight is a matter of stupidity, unless it was intentional. Although 10 lbs doesn’t sound like allot, if strategically placed, it can turn into a big difference in performance.when we raced we always came in 15-20 lbs overweight, which translates to about 2-2 1/2 gallons of fuel. Better to be over than out. One good thing is the track has been consistent with the penalty. As far as bonus money, anyone penalized post race should be ineligable for bonus money, in the case of the KHI bonus for 13th place the money should go to the person who finished 13 the on track. Another question is, where do they start penalizing, if your 1 lb under do you lose 1 spot. This can all add up point wise at the end of the year.

  19. SK ModFan says

    Let’s not get crazy about the invincibility of the 88 car. Every car at some point in the season will get caught up in a “jingle” or two and that can decide championships. Rocco had hit square in the wreck so all his team had to do is move nose tin, no suspension damage. His car was fine. At the end he was running 19.3-19.4 the 50 car was running 19.1-19.2 with 10 more laps on his tires due to the consi so it was not going to be Rocco’s night again. The good teams are doing their homework and will just make this division better and more competitive. As for post race weight, Stafford gives drivers one half of 1% variance of the required minimum weight approx 13 lbs so if you are one pound off, no problem. If it was published that they were 1 pound off, they were actually 14 lbs off. Chase was 23 lbs off so do the math: 23-13=10 positions. Teams are required to show up to the track with legal weight and can check their weight any time during practice to make sure they are legal. If you miss on weight, Shame on you!!

  20. Crazy in NY says

    They are full blown modifieds.
    With a 2bbl carb? No they’re not.

  21. NH MOD CHASER says

    Hey Crazy NY did you make the Tri-Track race up here in NH ? If so did you like the track ? I think it’s a cool little place

  22. Fat Freddy says

    anyone notice how quick Keith got to 4th and stopped? Yeah and how about the rocco car that spun itself out to get a late restart STAFFORD IS BECOMING A REAL JOKE AND THE JOKER IS MARK A.

  23. SK Modfan thanks for explaining more about the car weight. It defies my logic how any of these cars can be light. After all the work and money spent racing and knowing they have to be a minimum weight. It seems like a no brainer for me to see these cars fail week after week over something so basic.

  24. Jeffrey T says

    You can just go poop and loose weight.
    Chase was a bit over because he ate a burger b4…thats all
    Great food at stafford!!! I go for the cheeseburg

  25. So why did Keith stop at 4th?

  26. Man I’ll tell you from the web site to the availability of replays from Robert Bagot of Motorsports Productions to the on board shots Sids Vault Productions provides is there any better media outreach then Stafford. Probably by I have no idea where.
    I thought I saw what I saw from my seat in turn four. A big SK pile up with some of the fastest cars getting caught up in a melee. But you don’t really know what you saw until you see the replays and thanks to Stafford, Robert Bagot and Sid there was plenty of video documentation. Looks like Christopher and Pennink just touched, Christopher backed off too much, Rocco went up Christophers rear with his front lifted off the ground and the pile up ensued. Just tin damage for Rocco with the sophisticated front end geometry perfectly adjusted to track conditions untouched in a square hit. Possible but unlikely. Damaged, his track crew in any event was so ready it handles the quick fix with time very short and Keith goes on to a strong 4th place finish in a clearly less then optimal car. Not a Rocco fan at all but that was impressive.
    Equally impressive is knowing that Williams, Berndt, Christopher, Dowling, Owen and Galko in addition to Rocco and Pennink either have the speed or should have the speed to win races.

  27. Forgot Gervais.

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