Over the years in the State of Connecticut, Keith Rocco has shown time and time again that when he has a great racecar underneath him, there is little that can stop him. Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway not even a head cold would slow down ‘Kid Roc’ as he wheeled his No. 57 Modified to victory in the 80-lap Open Modified race.
Though he joked about throwing in the towel multiple times the past few days, Rocco knew he wouldn’t quit so easily, especially with his dedicated crew backing him as they built a new racecar during the week.
“I wouldn’t say I was going to quit, but I’ve been sick the last couple of days, and I don’t really feel like doing anything, never mind trying to finish a new car,” Rocco said after the race. “But I got a great team behind me, everybody showed up last night, I think we had 12 people in the shop working on it. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do it. Once I strapped the helmet on, I was ready to go.”
While Rocco controlled the lead the majority of the race, he had to wrestle it away on two occasions. The first came on Lap 26, diving past early leader Todd Owen in turn three. Rocco took the lead again after a Lap 48 restart when Eric Goodale got even with Rocco on the inside, but Rocco won the battle on the outside line.
Rocco would lead the final 30 or so laps, but the entire time, Owen was big in the mirror, keeping Rocco honest.
“I was pretty confident, we had a really good car, and a really good strategy. I wasn’t worried. Todd had a really good car, he was tough to get by in the beginning, but he fell off a little bit and I got a little better. Eric ran us hard, but it was fun and clean. We were able to run side by side, and fight back on the top, which is a lot of fun for me. That was the highlight of the race probably.”
Despite coming one spot short, Owen was very positive afterwards, oozing with pride and excitement after a solid performance following some teething problems one month prior with his first ever Tour-type Modified that he has ever built.
“To build a car like we did this winter, and never had built tour car before, I’m real ecstatic. This whole team worked hard to build this hotrod. Keith is a tough customer, he had a good car, probably by the first pitstop we were probably done, and we could’ve made a different change there. All in all a great day, we were in the hunt, and we’ll try to make it faster for the next one.”
For Rocco, he adds to an extensive list of Stafford accomplishments, claiming overall win number 62 on the half-mile, plus becoming the first active Stafford SK Modified driver to win one of these Open Modified events. Friday’s race is the third time the track has hosted one after putting on a pair of Open 80 races in 2018.
“We had a great car last year, we just fell short. These races are a lot of fun, it gives you something a little bit different; a cross between the Tour and an SK, because you get to pit for tires. It makes it fun for me, the crew, and for everybody to go over pit wall. Stafford does a good job with this race.”
Behind Rocco and Owen, Matt Galko went on a late race charge to finish third, while Eric Goodale and Chase Dowling rounded out the top five. Positions six through ten had Dave Ethridge, Cam McDermott, Joey Cipriano, David Schneider, and Andrew Molleur finishing in that order.
The second of three Open Modified 80-lap events at Stafford is set for Friday, June 14.
Fans who missed out on Friday's racing action at Stafford can visit our Race Day Now page to view live updates from the event by clicking here.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo