Protégé Pride: Keith Rocco Wins TC 13 SK Modified Shootout At Stafford Speedway

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the TC 13 SK Modified Shootout Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – The relationship between Keith Rocco and the late Ted Christopher is forever part of the fabric of the history of SK Modified racing in Connecticut. 

Rocco went to work for Christopher’s racing team when he was a teenager and the two became fast friends. 

The fast friendship got even faster when Rocco made his way into SK Modified racing and became one of Christopher’s fiercest rivals in the division at Stafford Motor Speedway and beyond. 

As Christopher cemented his legend in short track racing, Rocco blossomed into one of the sport’s toughest drivers himself. Christopher won the 2001 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series  national title. Rocco matched the feat in 2010. 

Through it all – even through the fiery battles and bad wrecks together on the track – the tight bond between the two only grew deeper.

Christopher was killed in a plane crash while flying to a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event in September 2017. Christopher’s legend in short track racing is known across NASCAR and that legendary status is deepest at Stafford where he was the all-time winningest driver and the man known as The King of the SK Modified division. 

Friday at Stafford Speedway Rocco got to celebrate winning the special event Stafford runs annually in Christopher’s memory. 

Rocco, of Wallingford, held off the charges of Todd Owen over the final lap to win the second TC 13 SK Modified Shootout at Stafford. 

“This is better than winning the [NAPA SK 5K],” Rocco said. “This means more than anything. The last few laps I felt like I was racing Ted there. I drove down in turn one and rooted Owen out of the way. I think I did that to Ted once or twice and I might have used the quote ‘Ted, thanks for teaching me that move.’ But you know what, that was awesome and this one’s for him, he was The King.” 

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the TC 13 SK Modified Shootout with Christopher’s family Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Owen, of Somers, was second and Kopcik, of Newtown third. 

The top-13 finishers in the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday transferred to the TC 13 Shootout. Rocco finished second to Stephen Kopcik in the 40-lap feature. 

Owen went to the lead on lap three. Two laps later it was Rocco getting under Owen for the lead in turn two and taking over the lead off turn four. 

Owen fought back and went side-by-side with Rocco for lap seven. Owen went back to the front on lap eight out of turn four. The side-by-side battle was back on two laps later before Rocco cleared Owen for the lead for good off turn four on lap 11. 

“Once we were able to pit and make a few minor adjustments this thing was awesome,” Rocco said. 

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  1. Congrats to Keith and the #88 crew for winning the TC 13 memorial race, using some patented TC moves none the less. Thanks to all the sponsors who made this special event possible. It was great to see all the TC shirts in the stands too. The man may be gone, but with events like this, he will never be forgotten.

  2. A spectacular night with great weather and better racing. Kopcik in that new LFR has been fast on occasion but never seemed to maintain it for an entire race which now he obviously has beating off two of the best. You’d have to be pretty jaded not to support that result. Cool of Rocco pulling up side of him after the checkers no doubt giving him a thumbs up for a clean race and the win.
    As a Rocco fan I’m happy with the second in the SK feature and TC13 win. Williams supporters will no doubt be equally happy about yet another win for him. Seems the perfect night where everyone had a little something the cheer about.
    In an under the radar kind of deal it was nice to see Waterford Champ Kyle James make a rare appearance in the Stafford SK’s and do well enough to make the TC13 and take in a few extra peso’s for his effort.
    Did I hear that right? Second place finisher and the surprise of the night next to Kopcik, Swanson was in yet another Rocco prepared car. Doesn’t that make four KRR is responsible for in the Open not to mention three in the SK’s?
    The goal of the invaders to break into the top 5 we knew was a long shot didn’t we? The Stafford contingent just gets more stout by the open. Making the 7NY’s 4th and 5th place finishes with two different drivers all the more impressive.
    So what do you do when you have a banner field of cars in a race format you’re trying to establish in the region with guys towing from a lonnnnng way away. . I’d suggest not sending cars home. It’s a big track. 30 cars would fit on it just fine. Short sighted Stafford in an otherwise extremely well run event.
    Too bad for Savory. I love that guy. See you at the VMRS event hopefully.
    How talented are women drivers at Stafford?. They not only race but one can sing the National Anthem sounding and looking pretty darned while doing it. Well done Samantha for the rendition and not bad in the SK Light Feature as well taking down a 15th and beating some good cars in the process.

  3. The 25 was the Cassella. Of course.That was dumb of me.
    Very last minute and very Preece like in the last open being all last minute and all. Even better.

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