Old Time Feel: Keith Rocco Outduels Ryan Preece To Win Thompson Outlaw Modified Nutmeg State 75

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the Thompson Outlaw Open Modified feature Wednesday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – For a good portion of the last decade at Thompson Speedway fans got used to watching Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece battling at the front of SK Modified fields at Thompson Speedway. 

From 2011 to 2018 the battles between Rocco and Preece in the SK Modifieds were quite regular and oftentimes quite feisty. 

Wednesday the fans at Thompson Speedway got a little return to those days, but this time in Tour Type Modified cars. 

In the end it was Rocco, of Wallingford, coming out on top of the battle to win the Thompson Outlaw Modified Nutmeg State 75 at Thompson Speedway. 

Ronnie Williams of Tolland was second. Preece, a Berlin native and regular on the NASCAR Cup Series, was third. 

“What a group of talent up front,” said Rocco, who took home a $5,000 first place prize for the event. “That was awesome to race with Ryan Preece. It’s been a long time since we had a battle here. That one might have been cleaner than some in our past. We can laugh about that. It was a lot of fun.”  

It was the second victory of the night for Rocco, who also won the 30-lap Sunoco SK Modified feature Wednesday. 

Caution flew on lap 51 with Jon McKennedy out front, Williams in second, Preece third and Rocco fourth. 

Rocco won the race off pit road with Preece coming out second and Williams fourth. The race restarted with Rocco in fourth, Preece in fifth and Williams seventh. 

Dave Sapienza held the lead on the restart with Rocco quickly moving to second. Rocco got around Sapienza for the lead on lap 52 with Preece following him to third. From there Preece stalked all over Rocco lap after lap. Williams closed in on the pair with about 10 laps remaining. 

On lap 73 Preece tried to make a move under Rocco into turns one and two. It allowed Williams to move into second. 

Rocco said he wasn’t surprised to see Preece make his move at that place on the track. 

“Before we got tires that’s where I was running,” Rocco said. “I was running down on the bottom because that’s where my car was working the best. Sometimes when your car goes away little bit you move down and there’s a lot more grip. The only downfall of that is that it’s hard to get a run off [the corner].” 

Said Preece: “Keith had a good enough car. Good for them. Not a bad day, the car is going in the trailer. … It would have been tough [to get by him]. There was a couple times I probably could have used him up. I really didn’t want to do that so I didn’t. I just need to keep fine tuning it, we’ll get there.” 

Thompson Outlaw Open Nutmeg State 75

1. Keith Rocco; 2. Ronnie Williams; 3. Ryan Preece; 4. Matt Swanson; 5. Chris Pasteryak; 6. Jon McKennedy; 7. Mike Christopher Jr.; 8. Dave Sapienza; 9. Anthony Nocella; 10. Max Zachem; 11. Andrew Krause; 12. Rob Richardi Jr.; 13. Shawn Monahan; 14. Anthony Flannery; 15. Josh Zentek; 16. Brett Meservey. 


  1. It’s disturbing to see only 16 cars when they are paying a good purse. Maybe it’s the midweek race?

  2. Uconnjohn says

    I thought most of the car counts were pretty disappointing.

  3. wmass01013 says

  5. Agreed Steve, decent purse and couldn’t ask for better weather. Looked like decent racing on TV.

  6. 3widemiddle says

    I think cars could cross the line 3 Wide for the win & some of you would still be upset.

    Quality cars. Reflect on that. It is VERY rare that I read positive posts on the internet.

    Support what these promoters are doing.

  7. Well there’s at least one person that isn’t disappointed and that would be Keith Rocco. First place money no doubt will help get a jump start paying for that sparkling new TA4 Rob Fuller convinced him to spring for over the winter. So what do you think Rich was Rocco packing a little added compression in those Dart steel heads??
    Oh my god, mid week races the death knell you say for tour mod races. Someone get on the horn to Tri Track stat and tell them to cancel the race in 13 days. The good ship TTOMS may be heading for an iceberg.
    Limited Sportsman division was terrific wasn’t it? Slicing and dicing, binging and banging and my new focus of attention Brent Gleason not only talks the talk but walks the walk as well passing a lot of cars to get on the podium as Waterman fades. Tune into the Making Laps podcast this week and get all the inside scoop on the racing last night from Brent.
    So the rest of the support divisions were meh. Support divisions are never the focus at Tri Track or NWM. Well OK the tour mod field was light as well but again so what it was a terrific race.
    Thought that 79 car had the field covered but never recovered from the pit stop. Nocella front to back, Casella back to front. The 7ny surprisingly disappointing and the disappointing finish of grumpy old Sap positioned for a top 5 then fading not surprising.
    Sap and Swanson pitting with 52 to go and I’m thinking they’re primed to do a Hirschman imitation jumping to the front of the class when the rest of the field pits later. Then Swanson pits later as well, Sap positioned well at the next caution but couldn’t cash in. Turns out Thompson isn’t Star and Sap isn’t Hirschman go figure.
    UNCLE, I can’t take Buckler any more. Engines ringing in my ears to drown him out my only regret seated in the Barkalounger. Whether it’s Covid fog or age he made a lot of mistakes last night that is not a problem. The endless LIKE A comparisons to irrelevant nonsense is distracting. It’s not LIKE A everything else known to humanity Matt it’s LIKE A local circle track race. I’m begging you Stafford, keep Matt as Bottom Shot Buckler in the third turn Friday night. Dodgeisms are hard enough to take times two is torture.
    Preece still not the winner in trips back to his roots but in the latest three outings in 2, 2 and 3 for finishes so he’s definitely on the prowl for a win soon. This race about consistency and the 6ny and 57 were consistent the entire race and it paid off in not the biggest field but a quality field of cars for sure.
    The best part we are waiting for. That would be the first hand accounts from two of the biggest voices in this forum making their triumphant return to Thompson and live racing post pandemic. The excitement is palpable.

  8. Well, it was a very good event.

    But first, some free recommendations… I had Uncle D’s Blazin’ BBQ for dinner last night at the track. Had the Black & Bleu sandwich… delicious. The slaw was perfection.

    Back to regularly scheduled programming. It was a good event. Good racing through out the program, the Mods were great. A couple yellows, not too many, a double hook here and there. I’d say it was an average night in that respect. The Thompson crew did a quick job on clean ups.

    I brought some friends for their first experience at short track racing. They had a great time. Watching their faces light up at the rasp and snarl of 18º built engines was precious. They loved it.

    It was a fantastic night at the track. Great weather, beautiful sky, and a big crowd. It took forever to get out of there.

    The Outlaw race was pretty good, came down to 3 cars, KRoc, Preece and RW. Swanson was there for a while but fell off. Looks like the Thompson oval has become a high line track, in that it was difficult to impossible to run the bottom successfully. Preece is usually very successful at running a bottom line and advancing, but last night was tough. If a car tried a pass on the bottom, they had better have good low end grunt to exit, other wise the car carrying the RPMS in the high line just drove away. Preece tried a dive and slide job, but couldn’t hold it and Kroc did a cross over and took the lead back. I think that’s when RW moved into 2nd, when Preece had to recover.

    McKennedy and MCJr were front runners early on, then fell off. Pasteryak had a close call with a spin, but recovered to finish decent, his car showed some speed last night.

    Carburetors were tech’d post race.

    I didn’t see a single valve stem cap on any Modified I looked over.

    I gotta tellya, seeing the cars speed down the back stretch under the lights on a beautiful weather night is just priceless. Last night was quintessential.

  9. I was surprised that Ron Silk did not race in the Open event last night. Any news re: his plans?

  10. Capt. Mike Qbvious says

    carl block, ACT/PASS said the reason they chose Wednesday nights was to try and avoid conflicts with other tracks/series in the area. You have Stafford on Friday night, Waterford/Seekonk on Saturday night, the NWMT, Tri-Track, MRS, and maybe some other things that all pull from the same group of teams and fans. They wanted to try and prevent teams/fans from having to choose between events. Wednesday night also offers Thursday as a built-in rain date that still doesn’t conflict with any of those things.

  11. Who Cares says

    This is how it was at Thompson last night for all you home dwellers; Rocco went to Thompson to chew bubblegum and kick ass and he was all out of bubblegum, did they check is valve stems 🙄

  12. Rafter,
    His open team (Haydt Yannone Racing) is based in Pennsylvania and it’s my understanding it’s really hard for that group to get to a midweek show because of work commitments.

  13. Riverhead on Saturday might have kept a couple cars away that didn’t want to put the car at risk, or might not have the time to turn the car around for Riverhead.

    What was there was quite high quality and very entertaining.

    What’s with all the mid-week hate all of a sudden? Thompson has had mid-week events forever, and I for one look forward to them.

  14. My opinion is RW was the star of the show. He passed more cars last night than anyone in the place. If he could have got to KR’s rear bumper a little earlier could have been a different outcome. Let’s face it, he ran both KR & RP down and when RP made the bid under KR in turn 1, RW drove around RP with a real nice power move. That 25 was hooked up.

    Shout out to Shawn Monahan in the 55, first time behind the wheel of a tour type since he ran the 31 Troyer for a few races on the MRS many years back.

    I understand a former Craig Lutz car with Ron Silks crew chief calling the shots. Kept the car clean all night, stayed out of trouble and got some precious seat time at the big T. Even thought the finishing order didn’t show his efforts he was as high as 9th at one point. Even had wife Jen going over the wall with tires, you go girl.

    Shout out to the Chris Pasteryak on a solid finish and rebound from the front stretch slide through the grass.

    A little disappointed with the car count but don’t forget WMT going to the island Saturday night. Might have kept counts on the light side, all in all very good race.

    Don’t you worry your little head Doug, June 30th TTOMS at he Konk with 10k and series points on the line, the car count will be just fine. Don’t go chicken little here, the sky is not falling 😀.

  15. I thought it was a good night overall, both racing and crowd-wise. I was glad I went.

    Car counts were a little light, but what was there were good quality. Race control and the track crews did an excellent job moving things along and the race distance in each class was darn near perfect. I was pleasantly surprised with the Wednesday crowd, but what a fantastic night of weather it was.

    The SKL I was helping did not have valve caps, nor did any others near us in the paddock. ;^)

  16. Where was the 44

  17. Real nice night for racing, cool clear weather, low humidity real good night to make HP. Arrived at 4:30 and was not looking promising crowd wise however, by feature time crowd was really good for a Wednesday night.

    Great job Thompson keeping the show moving along, kept caution laps to a minimum, with a 9:30 give or take completion.

  18. Fast Eddie says

    This was another ” quality over quantity” race. I thought each category could have used at least 5 more cars, but the competitors that came put on some really good racing. Even though he stalled out once he got that far, i thought the move of the night was from mcKennedy on the restart after pit stops. Way low out of turn 4 and passed at least 6 cars down the front straight. Lm’s had a2nd place battle that looked to be about 8 laps side by side. Great stuff!!

  19. Did you think I was concerned about the big Seekonk show two years in the making Cactus Earl? Well bless your heart.
    I couldn’t see the crowd from the Barkalounger but if commentary here is to be believed they done good. The crowd including all the best and brightest from the good old RaceDayCt forum it would appear so it dare not be a bad show. Apparently it’s more about the weather, tour mods and a well run event then the mid week location.
    The Casella 25 was indeed fast. However were Preece to have stayed high protecting the runner up spot, the status quo not being in his nature, Williams would have come in third. Three laps to go Preece makes his move in one and two and it was doomed as they started down the straight away. Williams who for 10 laps or so didn’t dare try Preece low got a gift and all Preece could do having lost his momentum is pound the steering wheel and say dad gummit.
    Was the lower grove a death sentence for passing aspirations last night in the tour modifieds? Certainly for some like Swanson it was on occasion. Preece showed no fear going low and while he couldn’t make it work against Rocco’s rocket he did garner some success down low at points during the race.

  20. Dr Robert Neville says

    Only 16 open mods, get use to it as a sign of the times. Consumer and wholesale prices are up, shortages of various commodities. All lead to a tightening of discretionary spending. Even Mayberry’s own Oxford Plains only had 11 Super Late Models as the featured class last Saturday.

  21. Well Doug, as always I look at this from a different perspective.

    Williams was just waiting for Preece to get impatient and try a move which was not working previously for how many laps prior to Williams getting to his back bumper? How many times did Preece look on the bottom? I lost count but, it wasn’t working. And it happened just as Williams hoped and by him he went on the top.

    Preece did not have the car to win last night simple as that.

    And I forgot to ask you, how do you know Rocco was running Dart steel heads? You know this or are you just speculating? 😀

  22. 🌈🦄2020 says

    14 sk’s. 12 lites. 7 mini’s. 14 sportsman. 14 late models. A little lite you say? And for the 101th time. Stop asking why Thompson races on Wednesday. The weekend is for the road course. How does anyone not know that by now? Last night sure was quintessential Thompson. Didn’t even have victory lane interviews for half the night. Where was Owen? 8 cars finished the sk race.

  23. What Fast Eddie said… that battle in the LM race for P2 was EPIC!!!!!

    When I saw the forecast for Wednesday, I HAD TO GO! Nights like that are just outstanding for a night out at Thompson. There’s something special about seeing the Mods under the lights ripping down the back stretch.

  24. You must have been at a different race than I was 2020. Sat one section from the S/F line, one row from the top and to the best of my recollection there was a victory lane ceremony for each feature along with interviews.

    Maybe change your alias to negative nellie?

  25. 🌈🦄2020 says

    So the remote mike wasn’t broke for the first couple features like Buckler said?

  26. Fantastic battle in Late Models!!! Tom Carey on the bottom, Morgan up top. Lap after lap fighting for an edge,, As a Driver that was worth the price of admission !!! It is incredibly hard to run into the turns at close to 100 mph as close as those two were running. Super impressed with BOTH DRIVERS !! Carey was faster but Morgan had the preferred lane up top, They had some side bumps coming off the corners as Morgan was doing HIS JOB trying to take some lane away, Just as Carey was driving up as high as HE could to gain some lane up higher… Absolutely the BEST RACING of the night in my book ..!!! I hope the Folks at HOME got to see that part of the RACE.. Carey eventually made the pass and pulled away once He could gain the High Groove… He ran out of time to catch Tagg but clearly had the fastest car on the track… Thompson had great weather and good solid crowd as far as I could see. It was a money maker with Drinks and food was Great too.. Preece tried over and over the low groove .. Too many times in my estimation… He should have just stayed in Roccos tracks,, Hit the bumper often , put pressure on him to use his tires up and dive under near the end to go for the Win,, or wait for Rocco to miss his mark then pounce, Ryan used up the good of His tires in the low groove too many times,, MY opinion… McKennedy had the best car but trouble on right rear tire change killed his chances. He put on left rear and right rear tires when others went with right sides… Thought it was Jons Race to Win, but pit stop and or strategy ended His chances, Just goes to show you the fastest car doesn’t always Win, you have to have good pit crew and team or you lose, Rocco got great pit work and came out first with fresh sneakers , drove right past cars on old sneakers and on to the Win, Boy what talent Rocco has, Wow I hope people realize how talented He really is. .. Enjoy His talent while he is in his PRIME… Cory Fanning did a great job also in Limited Sportsman race also. Him and His Dad Scott really do alot with little. Very happy he got Everetts Auto Parts Sponsorship last year at Seekonk !! Well deserved low budget team gets help and Wins Championship !! Thats Fantastic

  27. How do I know Rocco is using Dart steel heads Earl, I don’t this year. However last year that’s what was listed on the the summary Tri Track provided for the Stafford race. In fact most of the engines coming out of Pettit were Dart steel heads. Call it informed slightly dated conjecture.
    Speaking of engines why don’t we know what these guys are packing? Sapienza clearly had a spec and it was not quite up to snuff. Rocco and Williams built. Preece has spec and built so what was their choice. Is the 79 spec? How about Ole Blue? How do the rules affect the choice of engines. Is it a promotional missed opportunity to pretty much ignore what these guys are choosing to run? Rather then Buckler wasting all that time comparing intervals dinosaur eggs and every other irrelevant notion that pops into his head he could be educating and promoting an engine competition.
    Two things and two things only got Williams runner up. One being the fact Preece is at races to win and took a shot he clearly knew had little chance but it was his only shot and he didn’t care about a follow the leader finish. Second the low groove. So bad now it’s more akin to obstacle then a slower groove. Williams didn’t do a blessed thing to pass Preece. He simply hit his spots, maintained the pace he had been running and avoided the obstacle.
    In the end what provided the most entertainment in that race? The answer would be pit stops. Looking forward to when it would be and how it would affect track position knowing that the obstacle would limit passing for the lead as the race wound down.

  28. Doug wailed, “Speaking of engines why don’t we know what these guys are packing? ”

    I was in the pits, I know what they were running. Big, beautiful engines. Very easy to tell what they were running. There has been enough information already posted that if you knew and understood anything you would know what engines were being run.

  29. 🌈🦄2020,

    Broken Remote 🎙 ≠ No VL Celebration

    Now get back to chasing birds out of your yard.

  30. It looks like the Wednesday shows at Thompson are “this close” to long term success or failure. A few more cars would tip the scales in favor of success, while a few less cars could mean doom. Spectator attendance appeared to be good, so this past Wednesday’s financial results may have been acceptable to the promoters.

  31. Fast Eddie says

    I think the low groove could have been lack of rubber more than anything. It worked pretty good at the World Series with 2 days of rubber on it. It wasn’t all bad at the Icebreaker, but hasn’t seen any action since. I wouldn’t think the road racers use the banking, but if they do, maybe their rubber doesn’t work with the Hoosiers.

  32. Look, if several cars that were there ran as good as they could, or as good as their reputation, this Outlaw race would have been even far better. The 8, 79, 36, 92, and 82 were not living up to expectations. More cars can not fix that. Even when there are 30 cars, only three are battling for the podium in the closing laps.

  33. Doug the low groove was and still is not the place to pass at Thompson…. The High Groove reigns supreme at the High Banks.. You can use it to cross someone over on turn exits or diamond the corner like Fullers and swoop under the other driver… Same as before , High Groove and outside line on restarts is where you wanna be as a Driver…

  34. Geeze Jake ya think. At Wednesday’s race anyway.
    So I saw Eddies comment on the racing being better at the Icebreaker and suggesting it was due to the rubber being better down low with more racing taking place leading up to the open. Thought Eddie was full of prunes and proceeded to watch the race again with a more critical eye.
    Eddie was right. For whatever reason, rubber, a bigger field of cars whatever there was a lot of two wide racing at the Icebreaker.

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