Keith Rocco, the 2015 New London Waterford Speedbowl champion, brought his Tour-Type Modified out to the 13th Annual John Blewett III North South Shootout and claimed the pole on an unusual day of festivities.
An unexpected batch of showers came through Concord Speedway (NC) in the morning, postponing and cutting short practice several hours prior to qualifying for Saturday’s 125 lap feature. Coupled with some troublesome weepers after a week filled with an above average amount of rainfall, the experienced Rocco pulled through with the fastest time in the single car qualifying session.
Despite not getting much time on the track, the Wallingford, Connecticut driver was satisfied with the car and doing double duty this weekend actually contributed to his performance.
“The track was a little tricky, but we learned a little bit from SK qualifying,” Rocco told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Rocco only timed fourth quickest in the SK Modified class, a pole that was captured by New York hotshoe Jimmy Zacharias who drove a second car as a teammate to Rocco late in the season.
Going into the feature, Rocco is optimistic as he attempts his first North South Shootout Tour-Type Modified victory.
“I think we’ll be pretty good for 125,” Rocco said. “We run a similar tire (up north) and with making adjustments we should be pretty good.”
Hometown favorite Bobby Measmer Jr. turned in the second fastest time, at a track he has turned several laps and recorded numerous wins at. However, the top qualifiers will not necessarily be starting from the front row. Heat races were scheduled to be run on Friday evening, but due to track conditions were pushed back to race day.
There were an abundance of concerns going into qualifying with the moisture that was still present on parts of the track. Five-time North South Shootout winner Matt Hirschman was one that was uncomfortable.
“I definitely left some out there, but I also didn’t want to leave half my car in the fence over there (in turn one),” the 2015 Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour champion stated after qualifying 11th fastest. “I feel for the promoters because it’s bad for them. For the fans and the people that are here they are trying to get the show in which I appreciate, but I don’t know that the situation is going to improve.
“With the way today worked out and eight laps of practice and time trialing on that track, right now my confidence is very low but it’s probably the same for a lot of people. Even though I haven’t been here for five years, the few laps I made tonight is like a completely different racetrack I ever ran on just because I can’t run the line that I used to run here.”
The Pro All Stars Series South Super Late Model Series completed their qualifying session, but with an interesting twist. In order to keep heat in the surface, a European-style format was decided on with groups of five cars running five green flag laps. William Byron, working with a two-time North South Shootout winner took the fast time in his LFR Chassis.
“We felt confident about the car even though we didn’t have much practice,” the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion said. “We hit the track on Thursday a little bit but not that much. I relied a lot on Jeff (Fultz) to help me out today.”
The field will be reordered for the start after the top 10 qualifiers redraw, but Byron remains confident being somewhere in the first five rows.
“We’ll have time to get to where we need to be from wherever we start,” Byron continued. “The big thing is that we have the speed. To qualify on the pole shows that we have good speed so that’s really cool.”
Past Bandolero and Legends car standout Joey Padgett qualified second followed by Zane Smith, double duty driver Brandon Ward, and Austin Thompson. Due to a penalty from the most recent PASS South race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC) after an altercation following the checkered flag with race winner Joey Doiron, Smith will start from the back of the field.
That adjustment in the order moved points leader Tate Fogleman into 10th and into the redraw, which will take place on Saturday.
Jeff Melton won the Street Stock support race and AJ Sanders took the checkers in the 50 lap Mini Stock feature.
The features on Saturday will consist of a 125-lap race for the Pro All-Stars Series South Super Late Models, a 60-lap event for the Southeast Trucks, 75-laps for the Limited Late Models, the Mr. Rooter 50 for the SK Modifieds and the John Blewett III Memorial 125 for the Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Tour-Type Modifieds.
For those race fans that cannot attend the 13th Annual North-South Shootout, Speed51 TV is offering a live broadcast of the race on a pay-per-view basis. Visit Speed51.com for more details on how to purchase the event.
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Pennsylvania/Central New York Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
– Photo credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com photo
PASS South Super Late Model Qualifying Results
|9||8x||David Garbo Jr.||16.445|
|23||71||Jimmy Doyle||No Time|
Tour-Type Modified Qualifying Results
|2||14||Bobby Measmer, Jr.||15.625|
|3||9||Tommy Barrett, Jr.||15.629|
|10||28||George Brunnhoelzl III||15.743|
|27||27||Andy Jankowiak||No Time|
|28||53||Ryan Russo||No Time|