Hanging Out: Keith Rocco Back To Victory Lane In SK Modified Feature At Stafford

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – Last week in the NAPA SK 5K at Stafford Motor Speedway it was Ronnie Williams strategically keeping Keith Rocco to his outside over a closing laps showdown. 

Friday at Stafford the Williams vs. Rocco Show was back on, but this time it was Rocco turning the tables.

Rocco made Williams first hang in the top groove, and then defended Williams’ charges from behind over the final four laps to win the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford. 

It was the second victory of the season for Rocco, of Wallingford. 

“We had a fast car the last few weeks and we just kept coming up a little short,” Rocco said. “Ronnie’s got a good car. Last week he baited us in and we ran on the top and tonight we weren’t taking the top, we wanted the bottom. I wanted to make him go around me and he didn’t want to go around us.”

Williams, of Tolland, was second and Glen Reen of Wilbraham, Mass. third. 

On lap 20 Williams went by Eric Berndt for the lead off turn four with Rocco moving to second. Two laps later Rocco got under Williams for the lead off turn four. 

On lap 25 Williams got back by Rocco for the lead but it was Rocco fighting right back to return to the front on lap 27. 

Following a lap 30 restart the side-by-side battle began with Williams hanging to Rocco’s outside over the next five laps. 

“He didn’t want to be out there,” Rocco said. “You’re not going to pass something on the top here for the lead.” 

Williams was able to tuck behind Rocco on the backstretch on lap 36, but from there couldn’t find a lane by the leader. Williams gave Rocco a hard shot to the rear into turn three on the final lap, but Rocco absorbed the blow with ease. 

“The way the draft is here and you suck up on the back straightaway every other lap you could literally pass each other back and forth,” Rocco said. “You’ve got to put yourself in the right position at the end of the race.”

Said Williams: “He tried to hang me out on the outside like I did to him last week. He was just blocking the last five laps.” 

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  1. Congrats to Keith and the 88 team. Keith and Ronnie put on a show over the closing laps, and managed to race clean. All in all A good race

  2. sour grapes of cheese with whine says

    funny how Rocco has shown great restraint and humility in his podium interviews the last few weeks then the hottest driver in modifides loses a race fair and square and he whines like a baby.. they swapped the lead many times just like last week ..great action… Williams couldn’t get to Rocco`s bumper the last couple laps then never lifted in three trying to punt him from the lead on the final circuit .. I WAS THERE .. no respect for Williams a sore loser ..never will have the juice or success Rocco has had and will continue to have .. sure he won some races but nothing worse than a sore loser …..

  3. Didn’t see the supposed punt, looked like Ronnie was 1/2 a car behind going into 3, from where I was sitting. Left before he was interviewed. On the Lap 29 restart, Ronnie should have restarted as the leader, but I think the outcome would gave been the same. Keith was sending his car deep into 3, something no one else could do. Allot of cautions from guys overdriving their equipment, so basically it came down to an 11 lap shootout. Reen did good, quietly working his way up through. Overall a good race.

  4. So what’s wrong with blocking? That’s what bumpers and the outside are for.
    I didn’t hear Williams podium comments but by the time he got to the pits, took a breath and was interviewed by Nicole LarRose he checked up on the complaints and gave credit to Rocco.
    I’ve noticed a very measured Rocco this year as well. Not at all the guy with a gleam in his eye ready to throw a dart here and there to see who says ouch.This is the serious professional Rocco. Selling his brand and conducting himself in a way that’s good for KRR enterprises.
    Betcha it has something to do with Vault Productions Reality Series “The Show” and Sid’s team’s camera’s recording his comments for the end of season video. Seriously who wants to look like a clown on a video floating around the internet forever.
    Here’s a beauty designed to troll the Williams supporters.
    Ronnie Williams is fine. A college kid, smart, good driver and professional. And for the most part never has had to pay the bills for what he’s accomplished which is substantial at a young age.Not paying the bills you could say is a goal every racer should have. It was family first then it became ability and a certain amount of charisma that has landed him where he is at. He may understand car set ups and be a decent wrench but it’s not his strength. He’s a driver.
    Rocco on the other hand is a grown ass man. Came up the hard way learning the game starting with TC, took the knowledge to the track to become a record breaking winner and has developed a brand and successful business. Polished up to this year anyway he has not been. Unlike Williams Rocco knows virtually everything about every component of a car and what it takes to make it go fast. He does it not only for himself but get this………..for guys competing against him one of which is leading him in points. Who does that?
    I miss TC the guy I loved to respect hate and wanted Rocco to be the new TC to respect hate but that ain’t happening. I love the guy and respect everything he’s accomplished. It’s a pisser. No one to respect hate anymore. What Rocco means to Connecticut modified racing just can’t be overstated.
    It’s funny how we compare Rocco and Willams this year for obvious reasons given their proximity on the track. But in life they are polar opposites and that’s kind of a good thing isn’t it?

  5. Agree with sour, Ronnie was not smart enough to keep his car on the bottom grove which was clearly faster for both cars and then complains that Keith was blocking him when he could not get past him. Can’t win the all Ronnie!

  6. Hey Shawn, 2 Mike Christopher’s in the race last ? Mike Sr get back behind the wheel?

  7. Ken,
    Mike Christopher Sr. did start the feature. He was involved in a little mess at the start and pulled off. Spoke to him today and he said he probably won’t be returning for another start.

  8. SK ModFan says

    Doug, I’ll take your bait, you knew I would! First, great race Friday night. Rocco hid on the bottom, did what he had to do to win. Clearly knowing if he raced his normal line, he’d get beat. Sour Grapes and JH: if the 88 is running the bottom, the 50 can not. He has to pass on the outside or try to move him off that line. Williams ran a great race and gave a little bump at the end to say “see you next week”. There was no sore loser Whining. I’m a Ronnie fan because he does not like to lose. Champions don’t like losing. He gave Rocco his due in his interview. Rocco on the other hand has to learn the difference between offense and defense. What do you expect from a pep boy? Which leads me to Doug, Ronnie has established himself as a favorite to win weekly with a strong team and great sponsors. Not bad for only 5 years in the division. At this pace, when he becomes a grown ass man as you put it, Odds are Williams will have more wins and especially championships than Rocco in 13 years at Rocco’s current age. One could argue that the only guy to start his Mod career this successfully was a guy named Ryan. Today, he may not be paying any of the racing bills but he’s a college student. How many of the “kids” under 22 racing at Stafford ARE paying the bills Doug. I’d guess none. I like that this racer is a Deans List scholarship double major business student at one of the top business schools in the northeast and he plays hockey as well. So, since he cannot rebuild a motor like Rocco, he is not doing it the hard way so you don’t respect that. Who cares. Here’s a guy that will have a pretty good life beyond racing, with an education and who knows; maybe he’ll take over his family business and then start paying for his own racing. Meanwhile guys you respect doing it the hard way like Dowling May have a hard time racing working at Jiffy Lube if the sponsors dry up. I like Rocco and respect the business he has built around his passion of racing. I like the fact that my favorite driver is polar opposite of Rocco. Ronnie is paving a path that other racers can follow. Just because you don’t work in a garage doesn’t mean you are any less of a racer. NASCAR can thank Williams for showing that. Go get em Ronnie. All of us in turn 4 are 100% behind you.

  9. If you pass on something you’ve heard on a scanner SK Modfan or news from the shop that is always interesting to read.
    Your assessments of drivers has no value. Williams can do no wrong and those that compete with him get insults a scorn heaped on them. It’s especially sad when you have you yank Chase into a thread, insult him making value judgments of life choices completely unrelated to Williams, Rocco or racing in general. People read these comments. Dowling may read it. There’s no reason to say something so nasty and mean spirited for the sole purpose of questioning my choices in who to root for.

  10. Dramabaga says

    Congratulations to Keith Rocco, the entire Nº 88 race team, car owners, sponsors and family. Hands down the best short track racing ever. I can hardly wait until Friday.

  11. SK MOD FAN I agree with you concerning Ronnie. Although he may not be able to build a motor, he’s one he’ll of a wheel man. Never saw Rocco win 20 grand in one week. And after school, he’ll be dragging in big coin. On the lap 29 restart Ronnie restarted on the outside, Owen filled the hole behind Rocco forcing Ronnie to run up top. He did a great job for 7 laps, finally dropping in behind Rocco. Rocco did a great job blocking, running just high enough so Ronnie couldn’t go under him, and taking the preferred high line away. Both drivers did a great job running each other clean. If Ronnie had restarted on the bottom on lap 29, he would have won, unless Rocco moved him.

  12. Rocco and Williams are both great racers, even though they may have different “world views”. 10 years from now, I still expect Rocco to be chasing SK titles, while Williams may be on Wall Street. But, let’s enjoy their current day competition – rivalries are great for racing.

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