Anger Management: Keith Rocco Recovers From Spin To Win SK Modified Feature At Thompson

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Thursday at Thompson Speedway with his son KJ and daughter Giuliana

THOMPSON – Keith Rocco is always proud to exclaim of his motors by Pettit Racing Engines, but Thursday at Thompon Speedway it was horsepower fueled by frustration powering the Wallingford driver.

After getting spun out of the lead, Rocco furiously flew back to the front and went on to win the 30-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Thursday at Thompson Speedway.

Woody Pitkat of Stafford was second and Steve Masse of Bellingham, Mass. third.

It was the second victory in two events this year at Thompson for Rocco and his sixth victory in eight SK Modified features this year between Thompson and Stafford Motor Speedway.

Rocco coyly admitted that he took out some leftover anger on Pitkat in a battle for the lead.

“I did what I had to do,” Rocco said. “… That’s Thompson.”

Rocco was up to third by lap and went under Pitkat for second on lap 11.

On lap 12 Rocco got under Ryan Preece for the lead low into turn three, but in turn four Preece tried to cross over and go low on Rocco. The two made contact with both spinning to the frontstretch grass.

“It’s frustrating,” Rocco said. “Getting to the front so smooth and to just get put around. It was a racing deal. He tried to cross me. I sent it in on the bottom and he tried to cross me back and take the lead back and we just got together. That’s racing. Nothing you can do about something like that.”

The race restarted with Pitkat leading, but coming out of turn four after the restart a wild 10-car pile up collected about half of the field with the car of Matt Gallo nearly going over the frontstretch wall in the massive melee.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to say what happened,” Rocco said. “I saw a couple go in the fence on the top side. I actually got spun a little bit, but we were able to stay out of trouble.”

The race restarted with Rocco in seventh. He diced his way to fourth by lap 14. He went by Troy Talman for third on lap 15 and overtook Marcello Rufrano for second on lap 16.

On lap 18 Rocco got the run low into turn one and the two made contact through turn two, with Rocco coming off the corner with the lead. Pitkat showed his displeasure with the move by giving Rocco a hard slam through turn four.

Rocco held off Pitkat through two more feisty restarts.

“I was frustrated getting put around after leading the race,” Rocco said. “I was out to make my way to the front one way or another.”

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  1. Walter Maguire says

    Woody, You are not that good. Accept that and move on. Anger is for low lives and white trash.

  2. I enjoyed the race but Keith hit car after car to get to the front. Keith and Ryan had eve fastest cars. But a lot of cars were tore up in this division. They had 3 back to back cautions on lap 11. Glad Matt didn’t flip it but he hard. Great night of racing!!

  3. A view from above says

    Walter Maguire… You state that “Anger is for low lives and white trash” I do not read anything in this article about Woody be angry, I read he expressed his displeasure. Therefore I assume you are referring to Rocco as a low life and white trash as that is whose anger the article is talking about. By the way, after years of watching Rocco I would have to say that I agree with your statement however it applies to Rocco, not Woody. This is a classic case of why Thompson can only fill it’s stands when WMT is in town, Race Control at Thompson is pretty much non existent and to be blunt, just plain SUCKS! All I can say is what goes around comes around and KARMA is a bitch!

  4. Walter I guess it’s ok for Rocco to just plow through car after car last night.

  5. field filler says

    Wow how many cars did Rocco spin out last night???? Is the answer more or less than zero??
    From where I was sitting everyone that spun someone got sent to the back.

  6. So field stone, I guess you think it is ok to walk someone up the track to the point that they have to lift or hit the wall. If so Rocco will have a few coming to him in weeks to come.

  7. Walter back down on your Woody comments ! He could had dumped Keith at any point but raced him clean ! Woody is one of the most talented drivers out there 🏁🏁🏁

  8. Woody cries more LaBron James! Every friggin race he is in, Talman ran into me, Rowan ran into me, Keith bumped me, and I won’t even touch his results on the tour (22nd in points, 7 points ahead of Melissa). That attempt to take out Rocco in turn 4 was very dirty, and anyone with a scanner heard exactly what Scott Tapley thought of it.

    There is a big difference between moving someone up a half a lane to complete a pass, and Woody, in a recent MRS race at Thompson, running Masse up so high he ended up in the turn 2 wall.

    As for view from above, if Thompson’s race control (Scott Tapley) sucks so bad, why does he have his pick of tracks to work at? He is as well respected as it gets.

  9. Unfortunately Thompson is not well run.It has been that way for a while.The appearance of Thompson has really gone down hill,It looks like there has been no upkeep of the place.Granted last night was a nice night for them to honor veterans but the whole place is in shambles.Even some of the employees are not nice.Hope you are not expecting good car counts for Wednesday night because after last night there are none left

  10. Bill Realist says

    When I see Rocco have one of those runs I can’t help myself but to be in awe of the kind of car he has. I’m not a huge fan or hater but I just have the thought in me that he’s not the kind of guy who does extraordinary things with ordinary cars

  11. So your mad at one driver and take it out on the rest of the field? That’s how to make friends and influence people. Driving over and through people to get to the front does not impress me at all.

  12. TC used to do stuff like that as if it were completely normal and expected, and people loved it and defended it. Why can’t Rocco do it?

  13. You can’t compare Rocco to TC. Talking apples and pears.

  14. Driver A bouncing off cars can be compared to Driver B bouncing off cars. They indeed can be compared. If any driver bounces off other cars and is adored for it, it is absurd to chastise any other driver for doing the same.

  15. Just because it happened or happens doesn’t necessarily make it correct or acceptable.

  16. John Davis says

    I love how people crap on Woody in the WMT car this year when the first race the steering shaft fell off the steering rack secound racehe finished 12th after being spun out 3rd race he got dumped by the champ with 100 laps to go Running 4th and 4th race they chased an electrical issue the whole day and the car didn’t run so your all right it’s all his fault. He’s terrible and they should put tommy Barrett in that car to dnf every week. Sounds to me like it shop issues not that driver!!!

  17. If you have a car that is that dominant why do you need to resort to that driving style? What goes around comes around.

  18. Woody cries more than LaBron James, good one. He caught lightning in a bottle once with that Buzz Chew 88 team, but that was the only success he had on the tour. I always found it funny how any racing incidents are never his fault, and always the other car. Man up, people have more respect for someone that can admit they made a mistake. Him taking over TC’s ride was a good story, but if it doesn’t turn around soon Danny would be foolish not to make a change. Why throw the whole season away? Also, Woody will have a choice rather to run the tour race at Langley or the MRS event at Loudon. If Tommy Barrett was cleared to race on the tour, I bet he would have a seat in a hurry after Friday night.

    As far as this article and the comments about the SK race at Thompson, should Rocco race like that, no. Should Woody try to punt Rocco a lap later, no. However, I’d bet much of Woody’s frustration isn’t from this one race and getting roughed up, but years of being in a second tier car. This is no shot at the Perry’s or Stan Mertz, but there is no way Woody has equal HP to Rocco, Preece, Todd Owen, Talman and others. Yes, he won the 2015 championship by running up front and staying out of trouble, but at this point in his career is that what he wants to do? No, he wants to win. That isn’t going to happen unless several cars have bad nights, or he starts up front and the race stays green. This is his 4th year with the team, and in that time he has 1 win. On another note, it seems obvious once Dennis Perry’s son has a few more laps under his belt, his name will be above the door.

  19. darealgoodfella says

    humphry wrote, “If you have a car that is that dominant why do you need to resort to that driving style? What goes around comes around.”

    The fans LOVE it!!!! That’s why. Well, a certain portion of the fans. That driving style was TCs by-line, his cred, his brand. Since it worked for TC for decades, and tracks such as Stafford enabled it, it can work for anyone else

  20. Great comment Rick D. Comments sections are usually a place for absolutes, generalizations, extremes and hyperbole. Your entry was about nuance and multiple perspectives. Bravo. Very informative.

  21. Rick D., normally I don’t respond to these types of comments, but since I and my team have been called out as a second tier team, I feel that I must respond. First, I have never met you, don’t know you, you are not associated with my team and have no idea about the inner workings of my team. When I had that car built by Northeast and I drove it, yes, it was a second tier team. We were just starting out. Once I realized that I had topped out on my own personal talent as a driver. I stepped aside and concentrated on being a car owner and found a driver that would allow my team to grow. We won our Championship without winning a race. Correct, but after that you have no idea what you are talking about. You have no idea about how we have improved our engine program or who we work with to have the engine package that we now have. You have no idea what HP numbers are for any of the teams that you mentioned. We have learned a great deal on setup (which is where races are really won) and now are a threat to win each week that we race. your assumptions that Woody is frustrated with myself and my team are also incorrect. We both have worked very hard to get to where we are. Do we have the same level of setup skills that Todd, Keith or Ryan have? No, but have made strides to gain those so we get better each and every week. we are now at that point after 4 years that we are able to compete with them and win again. We are going to win races by racing our competitors cleanly. That is one thing that I have ALWAYS stood for in my racing career. We wont be a team that will divebomb to win or push others out of the way deliberately to get by to win. Well I guess we wont get many hollow wins. But when we do, we will have earned it and will hold our head up high when we are in victory lane again. As for you statements regarding Jacob Perry being the future of my team, I will also address that as well. Jacob will eventually be a very good modified driver. That being said, I run my team. I pay the bills. I am eventually going to retire from racing after many years and I will make this very clear, when Woody and I decide to no longer run together. The car will be retired along with me. So, with that, I am sure there will be more of you that “claim” to know things about drivers and teams and will continue to make your conjectures and false statements. With that, I am going back to my shop to finish preparing my car for the race this week and to do the best job we can for things that we can control.

  22. Crazy in NY says

    Bravo Stan Mertz for the education of the unwashed racing “experts” here on RacedayCT.
    Reality and fresh air have a wonderful cleansing effect.

  23. Stan, these couple sentences really stuck out:
    “We wont be a team that will divebomb to win or push others out of the way deliberately to get by to win. Well I guess we wont get many hollow wins.”

    Would you consider this one a hollow win? One to be proud of? At least your car didn’t end up in the fence like Masse did.

  24. Zeke,
    Not for nothing, but, Woody wasn’t driving a Stan Mertz car in the event that you linked to.

  25. True Shawn and I understood that. I guess my point was, after reading all the karma comments above and then Stan’s piece, it reminded me how dirty the pass by Woody was and how arrogant he acted in victory lane. Do you remember the last time anyone was boo’ed like that at Thompson? I always thought Steve Masse was one of the cleanest and most respected drivers around.

  26. old observer says

    Stan, good comments, You have a great team and are good competitors. Hope that retirement is a long way off because racing needs people like you.

  27. Stuart Fearn says

    Bravo to Stan Mertz for speaking up and using his real name. Got to respect that out of an owner. Admitting that you topped out in the talent department takes a big man as well (I’m more talented on the wrench end as well).
    Best of luck Stan.

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