Lights Out: Keith Rocco Leaves The Field In The Dark Late To Win NAPA Open Mod 100 At Stafford

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the NAPA Open Modified 100 Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – It seems plenty of people in the state of Connecticut lately are looking for a power surge. 

On the track Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway the lights went out early but it was a surge of power late from Keith Rocco that proved to be the real show. 

Rocco recovered from a mid-race spin to take over the lead late and checked out from the field to win the NAPA Open Modified 100 Friday at Stafford Speedway. 

Rocco became the first repeat winner of the seven Open Modified events at Stafford since 2018. He also won the event on May 24, 2019. Rocco scored a $3,500 winner’s purse for the event. 

“How about NAPA Auto Parts for putting some donations into this event,” Rocco said. “What a great show it is. What a lot of fun for the fans. For me, myself, my pit crew, a great race. We must have passed about 50 cars tonight.” 

Mike Christopher Jr. of Wolcott was second and Matt Galko of Meriden third. 

The race got off to an interesting start. While the field was pacing under caution after 15 laps the track lights turned off thanks to a localized power outage. It took about a half hour for the lights to come back on. 

With a tire going down, Rocco spun to the grass on lap 47 to bring out a caution. 

By lap 73 he was up to fifth. He was third on lap 80 when the caution flew once again. A wild lap 80 restart saw Ron Silk go by Christopher for the lead with Galko blasting from sixth to the front. After Silk overtook Christopher for the lead off turn two it was Galko getting by Silk to steal away the top spot into turn three. 

Rocco got to second on lap 83 and then on lap 86 he found his way to the outside of Galko off turn two. Rocco used the outside lane off of turn four to edge Galko at the line. Rocco was able to clear Galko off turn two on the next lap and then set sail to leave the field deep behind. 

“This was something else,” Rocco said. “We had such a good car in the beginning and we had a tire going down there. We were hoping for a caution. I just couldn’t hang on anymore. We spun out, I saved it to the grass and luckily the caution came out.” 


  1. Congrats to Keith and your team. Great win 👍👍

  2. wmass01013 says

    I think the back of the field was driving with no lights on all NIGHT, lotsa carnage running for 25th!
    I dont know the numbers Stafford is using but having been there over 125 times last 35 yrs i would say the crowd looked maybe 1000 people short of a normal WMT race.
    I reallly wanted the kid to win, he was so upset on the radio!
    What happened to Rufrano?
    Congrats to Charlie Pastreyak, HEAT WINNER I WENT BACK 20 YRS

  3. I’m going to rate that the best tour type modified race so far this year including the NWMT races. But you have to have reasons.
    *the winner came from irrelevance once, spun then came from the rear again to win.
    *lots of leaders. Christopher, Sillk, Rocco, Goodale. More I think but I can’t remember.
    *Aside from the winner tremendous movement through the field. Goodale takes on tires really late, charges from 16th to 4th and may have contended for the win if there was a late caution. Nocella, Swanson and Lutz all with good starting spots went backwards for various reasons then came to the front again.
    *the 7ny had the field covered for most of the race but so what if you’re too tight at the very end when it counts.
    *Galko and Christopher cashed in good starting spots for good finishes but generally speaking starting position was mostly irrelevant compared to a good handling car.
    *Barrett started 9th, was all over the place racing his butt off, ended up 9th the in the end was pretty darned good considering
    *journeyman drivers McDermott 6th, Kopcik 7th and Gallup 10th all improved their starting positions nicely to get a top 10 in a tough field and race.

    Nocella must have been on the binders pretty good but nonetheless that was a scary shot Swanson took. The pat phrases Dodge and Buckler overuse can get tedious but when the lights went out they proved once again they are still consummate pros handling the unexpected with some top notch spur of the moment banter. Wasn’t it nice seeing Silk move up steadily from 17th in his new ride and for a time look like he could win it? Sure Rocco may not be lovable but come on man. He helps prepare the car, probably built the engine and drove a hell of a race. Two races actually. Inaugural for tough luck driver Stephen Kopcik in the 179 a complete success and boy did he need it. Just not Dowling’s night. Interesting tidbit though from Dodge. He’ll be back in a rebuilt Avery’s car tonight and some reference to a special deal to race in the NHMS event coming up if I recalled that correctly.. What’s that about? Geese, tough luck for Ronnie Williams aye sliding through the grass again in a big race. Ben Dodge calls young Mike Ted Christopher in a momentary slip that turned out to be foreshadowing when Mike did a full pout in the post race interview with Nicole LaRose much like Ted would have under the same circumstance. Matt Galko not a big name but he packs some speed in the 3 from time to time and this was one.
    What’s the worse thing you can say about a special tour modified race? Would it be something like follow the leader or it was a freight train? This wasn’t that at all.

  4. Shawn you need to give Doug a job as a racing analyst. Although his analysis can be a bit critical at times, he calls it the way he sees it, and gives some interesting info on various drivers. Good job Doug, I enjoyed reading that post.

  5. SK ModFan says

    Doug, I think you need a new pair of glasses. Your summary was nice but your dislike for Williams has distorted your vision. Starting 8th on the outside after pit stops, Ron Silk in the 16 cleared himself to get around the slower 4 car and slammed Ronnie into the backstretch wall and with no right side tires and major damage spun into the infield getting hit along the way. Mike Jr had the best car; as long as he was out front or not racing anybody. Put him in traffic, he could only drive through people and has not learned how to pass in a tour type car. The 7NY should have won- of course coil binding is illegal in the open events so if he did win, would Stafford officials taken it away? 80 laps is best for Open Races. The 100 laps and varying pit strategies kept some back markers upfront with the faster cars behind and led to more opportunities for wrecks which it did. Keep the open events at 80 laps.

  6. “Geese, tough luck for Ronnie Williams aye sliding through the grass again in a big race.”
    Doesn’t sound like dislike to me. Sounds like exactly what happened with some sympathy over his misfortune. That’s exactly what happened.
    Now read what I said about Williams in the SK race. What you won’t see is one word of bias toward the winner or anything negative about Williams not winning.

  7. 🌈🦄2020 says

    All the hype for Todd Szegedy’s return to the track was a waste.

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