Total domination is the only way to describe Keith Rocco’s performance in the Valenti Modified Racing Series event at the Waterford Speedbowl (CT) Sunday. Rocco led 87 of those 100 laps and beat Tommy Barrett Jr. to the checkered flag by almost a whole straightaway.
Rocco inherited the lead from Kyle James under caution on the 12th lap of the race when James’ car went up in a cloud of smoke under caution. James’ oil cooler came loose and covered the motor in oil. James went to the pits to take care of the issue which gave the lead to Rocco.
After that Rocco went unchallenged for quite a few laps before Steve Masse chased him down and started applying the pressure. Masse looked high and low for quite a few laps before finally taking the lead from Rocco right at the halfway mark.
“I like to get out front and just save as much as I can,” said Rocco. “It seemed that (Masse) just wanted to race hard and lead some laps. When he got by me I didn’t push the issue. I figured I’d wait for a restart and then try to get it back.”
That’s exactly what Rocco did when he took the lead back from Masse on a restart on lap 53. After that it was all Rocco all the way to the end.
Tommy Barrett managed to get by Masse to take second with 17 laps to go, but he wasn’t able to close in on Rocco.
“Absolutely not,” said Barrett when asked if he may have had anything for Rocco. “I was just holding on at the end and getting what I could. Speed-wise I might have been able to keep up with Keith, but I don’t think we had the car to drive around him.”
The win is Rocco’s third of the season in VMRS competition and his second at Waterford this year. His other win came at the Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) in July.
Sunday’s race saw the yellow flag wave a total of 11 times through the course of the 100 laps. Eventually series officials decided to switch to single-file restarts in an effort to curb the carnage.
The cautions caused a few drivers, including Rocco, to struggle to find a rhythm.
“The cautions were getting frustrating,” said Rocco. “In a long race like that and a tire like that you want to run some laps and get in a rhythm and click the laps off. It definitely gets frustrating. When it starts getting like that it feels like you’re SK racing where it’s just wreck after wreck.”
Rocco seems to be a threat to win in every VMRS race he starts in the state of Connecticut, but he said he still won’t run the series full-time because of the travel.
“I’d like to run the MRS series full-time,” he said. “It’s a fun series, but the travelling thing is tough. If I only get to run the local shows that’s fine. We’ll show them what we are capable of. As long as we are winning races it doesn’t matter what it’s in.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Waterford Speedbowl/Race Dog Photography.
1) Keith Rocco
2) Tommy Barrett Jr.
3) Richard Savary
4) Steve Masse
5) Justin Bonsignore
6) Rowan Pennink
7) Mike Holdridge
8) Johnny Kay
9) Geoff Gernhard
10) Jeff Pearl
11) Dave Schneider
12) Matthew Mead
13) Woody Pitkat
14) Chris Pasteryak
15) Mike Willis Jr.
16) Norm Wrenn
17) Ted Christopher
18) Dave Etheridge
19) Todd Annarumo
20) George Sherman
21) Dennis Perry
22) Dylan Kopec
23) Chase Dowling
24) Kyle James
25) Chris Bakaj