Rocket Launcher: Keith Rocco Wins SK Modified Opener At Stafford For Third Consecutive Year

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

STAFFORD – It seems no matter the circumstances of late, there’s just no point betting against Keith Rocco when it comes to the first race of the season at Stafford Speedway. 

In 2018 the Wallingford driver scored victory in the traditional NAPA Spring Sizzler SK Modified feature. Last year, with the Sizzler delayed for weather, Rocco still grabbed victory on the rescheduled “Opening Day” event. 

And this year, with pandemic wreaking havoc on the schedule at Stafford and causing a 10-week delay to opening, there still was Rocco when the gates finally swung open at Stafford. 

After losing the lead following a lap 29 restart, Rocco rallied back and scored victory in the 40-lap SK Modified feature at Stafford Speedway. 

“I especially have got to thank all the fans tonight,” Rocco said. “You guys are the one’s up there putting your butts on the line and wearing masks all night. It means a lot to us racers to have you come support us. And I especially have got to thank Stafford Speedway. I’ve texted [chief operating officer Paul Arute] about once a week for about the last month and a half looking for any information I can. I drove him nuts. I can’t thank the Arute family enough.” 

It was the 58th career SK Modified victory for Rocco dating back to 2005. Rocco sits second on the track’s all-time SK Modified win list 51 behind the late Ted Christopher. 

Todd Owen of Somers was second and Stephen Kopcik of Newtown third. 

Rocco went past Owen for the lead on lap 24, but it was Owen grabbing the top spot back following a lap 29 restart. But five laps later Rocco made a diving move into turn three to grab the lead for good. 

“Our car just didn’t fire up when we went back to green there, but we had a really stout car once we got rolling,” Rocco said. 


  1. Congrats to Keith and his team.

  2. Who won the late model feature?

  3. Great racing all around, a few too many yellows but I guess that’s expected the first week. The show ended close to 11:30.

  4. Williams on the pole and he doesn’t win. That’s a story. Skowyra has that NWMT car to contend with along with the Stafford tour modified car. Maybe his plate is full or maybe the election has him concerned. In any event it seems like the elite three are still in the same place with Avery’s stable of cars just a tick behind along with Kopcik. The 82 still seems to be in the same place they were last year. Narducci and Hodgdon struggle in their first race in the Bigs and Flynn takes a sixth and the jump on Rookie of the Year. Patnode doesn’t eve make the field. It’s brutal in that division.
    Dodge and Buckler were saying it was the strongest field ever. In numbers I’ll take their word. The strongest at the top I’m not so sure. The fields with Pennink, Preece, Christopher, Dowling, Rocco, Owen and more were pretty strong. Going back further Pearl, Gunning, Potter, both Christopher’s Anderson and more were weekly wars as well.
    If they say masks only in section A what part of that is confusing? Check your face, if there is nothing on it you don’t qualify to sit there.
    One thing about streaming, no real worries about how late it goes and social distancing is automatic.

  5. racepuck says

    Great racing,Great car count and have to thank the Arute family for all their efforts, but there was no way you could social distance in the pit stands they were packed!!! And I’d say maybe 25% of the people had a mask on, not good as far as can see. Everyone seemed to wear one while walking around but in the stands they were taking them off. The pit area for the time being should be for driver, owner and crew members only, and a limit to how many crew members. Just for a few weeks till we make sure the number of case keep trending down.

  6. daRealAccountant says

    Tickets sold at the back gate to fans generate more revenue. Moreover these tickets are sold without sales taxes so they are not subject to audit.

  7. Gotta give the Arute family, Tom Fix and every staff member at the track an atta boy. From what I’ve read seems it was a good night of racing.
    Doug, wouldn’t consider Williams finishing 4Th the end of the world, they’ll get their share of wins this year. Last year, they were off at the start, but rebounded nicely.

  8. Ole Timer Trivia
    How many track championships does Doug Coby have at Stafford? Year? Division?

  9. 2 championships for Dougie at Stafford — 2000 in the Prostock class and and 2009 in the Offroad Rocksprayer class.

  10. Just a fan says

    Just a fan says Shawn any chance of an entry list for the Tri Track race?

  11. Just A Fan,
    Will definitely see one soon.

  12. SK ModFan says

    It’s fun fact checking Doug after a race. Williams and Rocco were setting up for theIr normal fight to the finish until the last caution came out. Restarting on the outside that late in the race is not the preferred spot dropping Ronnie from 2nd to 5th, so finishing 4th is the way the cards played week 1. Last year Rocco won week 1, Ronnie won his second championship. I’m predicting a repeat. The 50 team will be fine and will be the team to beat. The Lack of Horsepower Hill was bad. Dowling spent more time in the pits than I did, Reen caused 3 major wrecks: the 36 and 33 teams were hunting for him post race. Woody did not hit top speeds but thanks to the wrecks and his experience he made it to the front. In the first race of the year the best guys start up front so less accidents especially up front. Only the top 6 were not involved in any skirmish. The rest of the field was survival. Heck, Arute spun late in the race, finished 7th!! Oh Doug, that great list of drivers forgot my guy, Dowling and Williams came up the same year and last I looked there is no question who has been more successful, I’m just sayin’ . Next week expect carnage. Reen finished 15th and if he qualifies he will be on the pole surrounded by whoever was able to fix their cars on time. The top guys will be playing survival starting 11-15th. Can’t wait to see this.

  13. Slotcar, wrong answer, try again

  14. Ole timer trivia
    How many championships does Doug Coby have at Stafford? Year? Division?

    Doug has 2 Stafford track championships
    Late Model 1998, pro stock 2000.

  15. Ole Timer Trivia
    How many WMT wins does Woody Pitkat have? Track? Car owner?

  16. Doug, a person’s political affiliation has nothing at all to do with racing.
    The #50 team had a good run going with the Tour mod at Jennerstown before Ramou took him out late in the race. At Stafford they got a 4th place finish. If I remember correctly, last year the came out of the box a little off. With only 1 race being run, I wouldn’t be too worried about them.
    It’s good to see Woody back in an SK at Stafford, hope it’s a season deal.

  17. *What’s the off road rock sprayer class? Two championships for Coby. 2000 in the Pro Stocks and 1998 in the Late Models. It’s on the Stafford web site. He also won a bunch of races in the SK’s one year if memory serves but did not win the championship.
    *Williams more successful then Dowling? That could be a good debate over a couple brewskies on a warm summers night.
    *Politics have nothing to do with racing do they Rob p? Ideally no it shouldn’t.. On the other hand I try to imagine you with your very, very strong anti Trump opinions and Skowyra a massive Trump supporter having a chat and can’t help but think what strange bedfellows in these divisive times. Proving that without the buffer of social media or an anonymous comment forum we all can respect each others opinions when we are face to face.
    *OK so if I’m interpreting it correctly Ronnie Williams not having a strong run from the pole is an indication he’ll win another championship. I’m definitely putting a pin in that one.
    *Last year was a watershed year for Williams in my view that defined his driving style. My accounting has him shoving Christopher out of the way on the last lap last year to take the win. Giving Kopcik a shot on the last lap getting him out of shape to take the win. Giving Silk a shot on the last lap of a TTOMS race that did not work. Was the Rameau take out driver error or the cosmic forces of the racing gods exacting a measure of karma?
    *The SK’s in my view are about one or two tenths of a second. It’s early but the pecking order seems to be much like last year with Owen, Williams, Rocco in the top tier. Seemingly near perfect every week. Kopcik may be added to the list this year. Last year they all consistently showed up a tenth or two of a second faster then anyone else.
    *SK Mod fan you may have blinders on as you make cow eyes at the dreamy Ronnie Williams and blame Reen for every caution in the race but there are other stories in play as well. How about Mikey Flynn. Beats out more heralded rookies Narducci and Hodgdon and does it with good driving not so much blazing speed.. And in a SPAFCO chassis. How about no Galko, Rufrano or Berndt. What’s up with that?
    *See here is the thing about Pitkat. He didn’t have a car that could win. What he did is bring the Avery entry in at the absolutely best finish it was capable of. Under the radar but very impressive in my view.
    *Car to watch the 44. Membrino has a little more juice this year. Did I hear Stash Butova was working with the Membrino?
    *So how about Keith Rocco? The guy that won the race and soon will be due for some misfortune as the 50 marches to the championship. Poor guy doesn’t know he’s beaten already but how about giving him a little credit. Rocco has his hands in so many cars from Casandra Cole’s SK Light to a bunch of SK’s and a few more tour modifieds. You don’t have to root for him to appreciate KRR is a pillar of racing at Stafford. His personality is electric and he’s always ready to play the ham or be mischievous to make the show better. I’d like to see Owen or Kopcik win the championship if a season can be cobbled together without interruption. Regardless Keith Rocco is still the man in the SK’s based on the entirety of all the current drivers histories at least for now.

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