Feel Good Feature: Keith Rocco Outduels Todd Owen For SK Modified Win At Stafford

Keith Rocco celebrates victory in the North American Auto Car Senator’s Cup SK Modified 50 Friday at Stafford (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – In many ways the 2021 season in the SK Modified division at Stafford Speedway has been a horror story for Keith Rocco.

The reigning champion of the division came into Friday night at Stafford ninth in the SK Modified division standings with one win and eight top-10’s in 12 starts in 2021.

But on Friday the 13th the Wallingford driver turned the horror story into a feel good flick in dramatic style.

Rocco held off Todd Owen in a feisty last lap battle to win the North American Auto Cars Senator’s Cup 50 for the SK Modified division Friday at Stafford.

“We had a really good car,” Rocco said. “We started off really good. We got a little tight in the middle. You know what, it had drive, it had all the right pieces of the puzzle.”

Owen, of Somers, was second after winning the last two SK Modified features at Stafford. Stephen Kopcik of Newtown was third.

Rocco went past Teddy Hodgdon IV for the lead on lap 17. Owen was up to second by the time caution flew on lap 38.

By lap 43 Owen was all over Rocco’s bumper. On lap 44 Owen got under Rocco through turns three and four, but the caution flew again to negate the move.

On lap 48 Owen got under Rocco through turns three and four and the pair went side-by-side to the start finish line, with Owen leading at the line. On lap 49 Rocco was able to get under Owen into turn three and the pair once again went to the frontstretch side-by-side with Owen leading by a bumper at the line with the white flag waving. On the final lap the pair continued the side-by-side battle with Rocco taking advantage through turn four to win the drag race to the checkered flag.

“I wasn’t staying on the top,” Rocco said. “There wasn’t really much of an outside tonight. He showed me a little daylight there and I took it.”

Said Owen: “That’s just hardcore SK [Modified] racing right there with two guys that have respect for each other. You know we touched a little bit. He outsnookered me on that one. Definitely a good night for us. I’m not going to sit here and be upset because we finished second. It’s a great night.”

With his third place finish, Kopcik stayed within striking distance of Owen in the battle of the top of the standings. After 14 events Owen leads the division standings by 20 points over second place Kopcik with six events remaining.

“We really didn’t have a stellar car tonight. But it was good enough to hang where we were. Definitely nothing to be ashamed about it. The rats might come and go, but you’re always racing the best at the end of the day. Keith and Todd put on a great show.


  1. The Atomic Punk says

    “There wasn’t really much of an outside tonight”. It disappeared around 1996 after a repave…. Never to return….. Sad.

  2. That SK feature was both quietly efficient for developing exactly the way you want the feature to play out and atypical at the same time.
    The fastest cars ended up at the front with Rocco coming from ninth, Owen from 14th and Kopcik from 13th. Hines every bit as fast as Rocco with a golden opportunity starting from 6th sees an engine expire. Had that not happened it very well could have been a three way battle for the win but what we got was nearly ideal.
    The guy that past the most cars was Christopher at mid teens coming from the rear to salvage a 6th place finish. Seeing Mike Sr on pit road work his magic to borrow a Ben Dodge staple now thread bare from his overuse of it I know what I’m seeing. Arguably the smartest crew chief in modified racing who does everything on the cars including the engine. Old school thy name is Mike Christopher Sr owner, crew chief and former champion.
    Doesn’t it always work out that way. Expanding your stable, running up front and now you’ve got an expired engine to replace. What’s worse a wrecked race car or one with a paper weight attached to the transmission that team has had both lately. That’s the bad news but Narducci’s performance the good. No it’s not a win first time out like with the Rocco car but starting 5th and finishing 8th with the wheels still on the car is a good start by any other standard.
    What was atypical was engines. TA Engines, RAD and Pettit the three big dogs in SK engines and so good we take them all for granted. That’s two Pettit engines expiring in one night and that in itself is a blue moon event.
    Good for The Roc he’s been irrelevant lately and now is back in the winners circle. But the big winner is Owen. Perpetually the good guy that is always the good sport runner up now is not only in the points lead but consistently has the fastest car. Getting your name in the record books as a champion is a big deal in my view and Owen a Stafford main stay deserves that honor more then just about anyone.

  3. Great drive by both Keith and Todd, but Keith had the know how with all the battle’s he had with TC over the years.

  4. I have seen many a driver work the outside groove and win at Safford , it is known as the hard way around and it can be done. .Any one one know where Chase Dowling was last night?

  5. JH,
    Chase Dowling and team owner Dan Avery have split up. Chase Dowling Splits From SK Modified Owner Dan Avery At Stafford Speedway

  6. fan of flo racing says

    Mike Jr didn’t pass everyone on the bottom !! Really like Sr ,Quinn and that team never quit !!!…. good for Narducci but he had an ill handling race car and took up a lot of real estate during the feature ..others were afraid to pass him . Owen strong as usual ….Good for Rocco .. he has got some motors to change ..personally a lot easier than welding clips in my opinion. P.S. at the end of the day with the tire shortage and the heat there are NOT many teams that can make the top work no matter where you are running ! someday they may reconsider the compound for the spec tires and maybe then you will see some action up top… of course they wont last but the racing will be better.. but more expensive there is always a trade off…

  7. Hmmm, repairing wreck damage or a motor. I’ll take the wreck every time. Labor intensive but in most cases a fraction of the cost of an engine.
    The gas lighting on passing high at Stafford is taking it’s toll. Thompson is unique but otherwise the outside is always problematic because it’s the long way around on any oval track. Passing on the outside at Stafford happens literally all night in every division.
    Set your car up exclusively to run the bottom and you won’t be in front at the end to run inside or outside for the win.

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