Crossing Guard: Todd Owen Uses Last Corner Pass To Get Sunoco Mod Win At Thompson

Todd Owen celebrates victory in the Sunoco Modified feature Saturday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – It was a last lap duel worthy of a tale of the tape.

In one corner was Keith Rocco, the driver riding a five-race Sunoco Modified winning streak at Thompson Speedway.

In the other corner was Todd Owen, the driver riding a wave of momentum like nobody else over the last three weeks.

When the dust settled, the NERF bar clanging was over, it was Owen, of Somers, fending off Rocco to celebrate victory in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature Saturday at the Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway.

“That’s just badass racing,” said Owen, who deftly defended Rocco’s try at cross him over off the final corner. “If you’re up in the stands watching that, that’s just two guys with respect for each other banging it out. He gave me room. I don’t think he thought I was going to get a good enough run through [turns] three and four there on the last lap. We touched a little bit but that’s just hard racing for sure.”

Rocco, of Wallingford, held on for second and Teddy Hodgdon IV of Danbury was third.

The Sunoco Modified division is running three features over the three days of the World Series. Rocco won Saturday’s feature for his fifth consecutive win at the track dating back to the August 2020.

“We were the car to beat,” Rocco said. “Todd was a little bit better than us. We missed a little bit on the stagger. What are you going to do? You can only win so many in a row.”

Rocco went from eighth to third on the first lap and was up to second by lap three. Rocco went by Danny Cates for the lead into turn three on lap four. On lap five Cates battled back to get under Rocco into turn three, but Rocco wrestled the lead right back in turn four.

Hodgdon went to second on lap six and took his first shot at Rocco a lap later. Hodgdon grabbed the lead on lap seven. On lap eight Rocco clawed back to the lead through turn two, with Hodgdon moving to the front in turn three and Rocco going back to the lead off of turn four.

Hodgdon took another shot at Rocco following a lap 18 restart, but on lap 19 it was Owen moving past Hodgdon to second place.

Owen grabbed the lead for the first time on lap 22 with a diving move under Rocco into turn three. But Rocco fought back on the next lap with the same move to go back to the front. Owen got under Rocco off turn four on lap 27 with the pair going to the line side-by-side, but Rocco cleared Owen off of turn two on lap 28.

On lap 30 it was Owen making the move low into turn three to get under Rocco. The pair made contact twice coming to the checkered flag with Owen winning the drag race to the finish.

“He’s so good here that he knows exactly what to do to kill your momentum and he’s going to cross you over,” Owen said. “He had done it to me once already. I thought we had a better car, but passing here is so tough. I just tried it one more time [on the last lap]. The car rotated incredible and got a run off the corner. We kind of touched, he tried to kill my momentum. That’s just hard racing. We’re just trying to win the race. That’s what we’re here for. For the people that are here we want to put on a great show and make the World Series what it’s meant to be.”

It was another highlight in a stretch of big days for Owen over the last three weeks. Two weeks ago he clinched his first SK Modified championship at Stafford Motor Speedway. Last weekend he clinched his first SK Modified championship at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

“It just feels awesome,” Owen said. “It kind of shows off all the hard work that our team does. You can’t ask for a better up-beat attitude around our whole pit area. … It’s just so much fun when everybody is having a good time. And obviously to drive a car that good it just tops it off.”


  1. Sorry Mr. Courchesne I know you’re up to your eyeballs now doing your job but I have to say you were wrong on something.
    In the bit you did for the latest Vault Productions Speedbowl retrospective you said when Rocco started out he was kind of a jerk with the media attention perhaps because he was insecure about how to deal with it.
    Tonight he failed to come to the podium interviews. I’m sure it’s happened before but I can’t tell you one I remember. Whether he felt he got roughed up on the final lap by Owen makes no difference. He’s won everything at Thompson in the SK’s so you show up and do your job. He was a jerk for doing what he did and nothings changed since when he started as far as I can see.
    I don’t get it. He’s immensely successful in racing, wonderful wife and family, great supporters financially and well respected by other racers. Yet he continually says in his interactions with the racing public “lets go brandon”.

  2. Wasn’t there didn’t see it but it sounds like most of passing was done on the bottom, Atomic Punk is not going to be happy

  3. Doug,
    I can’t speak for his reasoning, but I’ll just make this assumption. The last few events at Thompson they’ve only had the winner stop on the frontstretch after the event. I’m not sure that he knew the obligation for the event. As far as his feelings after the event, I spoke to him immediately following in the pits and he didn’t come across as perturbed by anything. And I was with Todd Owen in the pit area when Keith went out of his way to come over and congratulate him.

  4. Why stir something up that doesn’t exist. Shawn, you were there and Doug, you were home in the barkalounger. Who knows best? Let it go, let it go!

  5. As always I defer to you Mr. Courchesne. You’re who you are and I’m just a fan.
    All I can think of is there is race central and he is hearing stuff I would think and perhaps instructions on victory lane. Then there is the robotic, let’s get this over with approach when he’s been in victory lane like at Stafford. Also the fact that they had been having the three top finishers doing interviews today.
    You may be correct Mr. Courchesne and there is a good reason everyone seems to know what to do except Keith Rocco who has been doing this forever.
    I can’t speak to the details but as a pretty good fan there is no amount of lipstick that can be put on this pig to make it look good. The dominant driver at Thompson gets beat in a way he has beat countless people in the past and doesn’t show up for the victory lane interviews. Owen gets beat at Stafford with some rough housing at the end by Rocco, shows up in victory lane, expressed his displeasure but mostly controls himself.
    I’d suggest an Unmuffled interview to clear the air on everything.
    I doubt Rocco would do it but if you’re correct perhaps. It would be a very popular Unmuffled.
    He was a jerk when he started winning. Why not throw the fans a bone and show you’re not the same jerk with a pile of trophies.
    Sorry Mr. Owen for spending too much time on Rocco that race was brilliant. The stalking and timing of the pass. Pulling the string in 3 and 4 just the right amount to stop the cross over was some of the best Thompson racing I’ve ever seen.

  6. I had rocco in the grandstand pool but I was rooting for Todd Owen and was happy he won. What Owen did was not bad at all especially considering what rocco did to Owen the 2md to last week at Stafford while Owen was in the midst of a championship battle. So Rocco didnt show up for intereviews. Probably best he didnt, he may have said something that would not have been received all that well. Better to oool down and collect your thoughts. Anyway that was probably the best SK race I have seen all year. The first 10 laps was just crossover city. Las lap pass with a photo finish. Pretty sure that was a good one. Great entertainment. Thanks Thompson

  7. Just read the comment Shaun. Good to know there is no hard feelings between the two as there is another race tomorrow hopefully.

  8. I honestly think that they was the best SK/Sonoco/tour type race I have seen all year. Nail biter all the way. 30 laps. Guaranteed the 300 will be a snooze fest. 270 laps of driving and 30 laps of racing. Lots of riding around to get to the outcome. I respect what Todd Owen did today. If Keith Rocco wants to pout, he should check to see what he did to Todd a month ago at Stafford. And Todd Owen is man enough to not throw stones. All though he would have enough stones saved to make everyone’s life a chore.

  9. Viva Race Fan says

    Bingo called that 1. Great race

  10. 3 tap rule rubbings not racing says

    Rocco knows best and Todd has now learned along with others at Stafford, Waterford AND Thompson that sometimes being in the lead is NOT the place to be on the last lap.. this is old news. if the roles were reversed Rocco would have divebombed.. Williams, Kopcik, Christopher , Dowling name anyone consistently running in the top 5 or 6 weekly .if there isn’t a top groove on a particular night this is the racing product you get . doesn’t matter if its open wheels or has fenders.. knock em outta the way

  11. I was brought up in a different era. If I got to the preferred groove first,the rest of the track is yours to get “around ” me.No problem with the “bottom shot” as long as you don’t take the guy to the fence to get by. Just a shame that the” bump and run ” has become an accepted move…..jmho

  12. Great THOMPSON HIGH BANKS HIGH DRAMA RACING !!!! LOVED IT !!! KAYMAN , with all due Respect the 300 has a Tremendous History, A Tremendous Winners List , There are so many things to watch , To make note of, Bring your note book , Like a Baseball Scorecard, Take notes of the Leaders, Mid pack , Back Pack and lap cars, Make notes of all pit stops, Did they take tires ? How many , Lefts or Rights. Did they take Fuel ? Did they make wedge adjustment’s to the LR or RR ? A turn in LR rear Clockwise would be for more bite, A turn counterclockwise would reduce bite and loosen car , A turn in Clockwise in RR would loosen up the car reduce the bite, and opposite counterclockwise would tighten up the car. Make notes of laps run by leader before stopping for fuel ? You can break it down in 3 Chapters , 100 lap segments , You can Observe the Strategy take notes like Crew Chiefs do, So I disagree it’s not ride around for 270 laps, NO NO you have too see the Race as we see it, You have to keep pace , stay on the lead lap at all costs. Plan your stops if there is no yellows, calculate PLANS A B C & D as the race unfolds, It ‘s a Thinking MAN”S Race , Driver and Crew have to have everything lined up perfectly to Win , With 12 tires to change you gotta keep track of speed lap times and tire falloff to determine the Optimal tire use verse time falloff and find the best time to change tires to help your car keep pace and speed to stay on the lead lap. SO many things we have to be on top of in the pit’s the 300 laps flashes by, Winning this Race is one of the Best Things a Driver / Crew Chief / Team Member can put on their Resume …. Think / Win … Enjoy all 300 laps… NO TIME TO SNOOZE…. SNOOZE YOU LOSE…… HAVE FUN = BE HAPPY 300 Laps of GLORY.!

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