Waterford, CT – An action packed and entertaining six division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race program hit the track Saturday at Waterford Speedbowl. Repeat winners were commonplace during the event, including Keith Rocco of Berlin, who doubled up on the night with wins in the SK Modified® and Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division races. Josh Galvin of Franklin won another Street Stock race and Randy Churchill was back in Victory Lane following the SK Light Modified feature. Jeff Lee of Uncasville was the only new winner, a career first victor in the Mini Stock ranks. Allen Coates added another Speedbowl win to his career in the visiting New England Truck Series race.
An extra-distance 40-lap SK Modified® highlighted Saturday’s racing card, checkered by Rocco. He made the move of the race early and once in the lead, closed the race with a long green flag run to the checkered flag.
The opening green flag saw the third place car Paul Kusheba come up to speed slowly, giving the outside lane behind the front row an advantage. Rocco was mid-pack and able to slide by multiple cars on the opening lap, led by Tim Jordan. Ted Christopher moved to second on lap-3 and tailed Jordan until the first caution of the race came out before the field could complete lap-5. Contact between the cars of Kusheba and Ed Puleo saw Puleo spin off the track down the back chute, collecting Frank Mucciacciaro.
The restart saw Jordan lead Christopher but it was Rocco’s dazzling move in traffic that captured everyone’s attention. He went from fourth to second position between laps 5 and 6. The lead cars of Jordan and Christopher went wide through turn four causing a tense moment for the field behind. Jordan recovered to hold his lead, but Christopher lost momentum to keep his car off the wall. Craig Lutz darted inside Christopher while Rocco shot through the middle of both cars down the front chute, coming away with second position. He took a shot from Christopher in turn one before pulling outside Jordan for the lead. Rocco stayed there for four laps before seizing control, clearing Jordan exiting turn two on lap-10.
Tom Pinson spun in turn four on lap-12 to create the final restart. Rocco quickly got away from Jordan, who received a challenge for second position from Lutz. Behind them, Christopher was in a battle with Rob Janovic for fourth. Those side-by-side battles ended with Lutz clearing Jordan on lap-15, bringing Janovic underneath Jordan for third. Christopher eventually got past Jordan to move into fourth and joined Lutz and Janovic in a battle for second for the final 20 laps of the race.
The final 28 laps were run without incident and Rocco was undeterred. The action for second intensified over the final six laps, including a nifty save by Janovic off turn four on lap-34. The cars of Lutz, Janovic and Christopher raced nose to tail on the final lap and Janovic got crossed up again, this time in turn two. He chased his car nearly saving it again, unfortunately getting into the infield off the back stretch and giving up a podium finish. Lutz continued his string of podium finishes and ended up second while Christopher finished third. Jordan was fourth and Kyle James fought to earn a spot among the top-five at the finish.
Rocco returned to the winner’s circle in the Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division, winning his sixth race in the division to snap a four race winless streak. Rocco’s effort became a little easier halfway through the 30-lap feature. He was second to leader Bruce Thomas Jr. when the caution flag waved on lap-16. As the field came to the green flag to restart the race, a flat right front tire on Thomas’s car triggered a wreck that sent Thomas to the pit area for repairs and collected several others. Rocco came away unscathed, inherited the lead, and never waivered. He had to hold back Jason Palmer, seeking a third consecutive victory, over a green-white-checkered flag finish. Palmer finished second and former division champion Jeff Smith was third. Rocco won the first five Late Model features of year.
Lee was an enthusiastic and popular first time winner in the Mini Stock ranks. He used a pole starting position to take off at the start of the race and was never threatened during the non-stop 25-lapper. A week ago, Lee led much of the race until encountering trouble late in the race and finishing back in the field. Saturday’s victory was another first – Lee won driving an Acura Integra model car, the first time the front-wheel drive model has won a NASCAR Mini Stock feature at the track. The division has been dominated by rear-wheel drive Ford Mustangs for the past 15 years. Pete Zaikarite finished in the runner-up position and teenager Garrett Denton was third.
Coates won for the 83rd time of his storied Speedbowl career during the 25-lap New England Truck Series race. He survived a rough and tumble event, taking the lead halfway through the race on the outside of the track. He passed Andy Lindeman with a power move and pulled away from the field the rest of the way. Chris Correll finished in second and Coates’ son Corey was third.
Churchill was another returning face to land in Victory Lane Saturday, checkering the 25-lap SK Light Modified feature. The defending division champion took the lead on lap-3 then held on over a host of restarts that mounted as the race wore on. Churchill held back both Paul Buzel and Corey Barry, who entered the night as the winner the previous two races for the division. It was Churchill’s second win of the year, but first since May 3.
Galvin won for the fifth time in six races in the Street Stocks, using a three-wide maneuver to take the lead on lap-11 of the 25-lap race. He went inside Norm Root Jr. and Steve Barrett down the front stretch after trailing their side-by-side battle for three laps. Once in front, Galvin fended off the challenges of Al Stone on multiple restarts to claim the victory. Stone was second and Monte Gibbs finished third. Galvin finished second a week ago when Ryan Waterman was able to keep him out of Victory Lane.
Next Saturday, the cars and stars from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour make their annual visit to the Connecticut shore for the Mr. Rooter 161, a tribute race to nine-time Modified champion Richie Evans. An action packed night of open-wheel Modified racing will be on display. Doug Coby and Ryan Preece, the past two series champions, have won the previous two editions of the 161. A full NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing card supports the event. Advance tickets sales are open online by visiting Speedbowl.com or contacting the track office.
Waterford Speedbowl Saturday 6/14 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Results:
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modifieds® (40-laps): 1. Keith Rocco, Berlin; 2. Craig Lutz, Miller Place, NY; 3. Ted Christopher, Plainville; 4. Tim Jordan, Plainfield; 5. Kyle James, Ashaway, RI; 6. Joe Gada, Salem; 7. Shawn Thibeault, Plainville; 8. Paul Kusheba IV, Monroe; 9. Ed Puleo, Branford; 10. Joey Mucciacciaro, Wolcott; 11. Jeff Gallup, Agawam, MA; 12. Tyler Chadwick, Ledyard; 13. Nichole Morgillo, Southington; 14. Rob Janovic Jr., Waterford; 15. Frank Mucciacciaro Jr., Milford; 16. Wendell Dailey, Gales Ferry; 17. Rob Driscoll Jr. Brookfield; 18. Tom Pinson, Colchester; DNS – Brent Sweet, Monroe
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Valenti Auto Mall Late Models (30-laps): 1. Keith Rocco, Berlin; 2. Jason Palmer, Berlin; 3. Jeff Smith, Old Lyme; 4. Nick Sowa, Middletown; 5. Bruce Thomas Jr., Groton; 6. Marc Curtis, Spencer, MA; 7. Anthony Ryan Jr., Danbury; 8. Joe Gada, Salem; 9. Mike Sweeney Jr., Meriden; 10. Chris Garside, Waterford; 11. Rich Duranti, Quaker Hill; 12. Ken Morin Jr., Old Saybrook; 13. Jim Banfield, South Glastonbury; 14. Vin Esposito, Seymour
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Street Stocks (25-laps): 1. Josh Galvin, Uncasville; 2. Al Stone III, Durham; 3. Monte Gibbs, Higganum; 4. Steve Barrett, Preston; 5. Greg Moran Jr., Preston; 6. Norm Root Jr., Old Saybrook; 7. Ryan Waterman, Danielson; 8. Ed Gertsch Jr., East Haven; 9. Chris Meyer, North Franklin; 10. Tom Shea, New London; 11. Lloyd Anderson Jr., Wauregan; 12. Billy Hahnel, Uncasville; 13. Phil Evans, Uncasville; 14. Travis Jurcik, Chaplin; 15. Scott Sundeen, Sutton, MA; 16. Brandon Fisher, Plainfield; 17. Ed Puleo, Branford; 18. Kaitlyn Bryce, Manchester; 19. Ritt Shawn, Westerly, RI; 20. Nate Appell, Westbrook
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Mini Stocks (25-laps): 1. Jeff Lee, Uncasville; 2. Pete Zaikarite, Niantic; 3. Garrett Denton, Hope Valley, RI; 4. Ken Cassidy Jr., Lisbon; 5. Dave Trudeau, Mansfield; 6. Chris Ivory, Oakdale; 7. Wayne Burroughs Jr., Oakdale; 8. Nick Pappacoda, North Branford; 9. Joe Liskiewicz, Preston; 10. Ray Christian III, Groton; 11. Jeff Moffat, Smithfield, RI; 12. Dale Sherman, Charlestown, RI; 13. Doug Curry, Groton; 14. David Arute, Tolland; 15. John Bowes, Willington; 16. Larry Loomis Jr., Moosup; 17. Ian Brew, Wood River Junction, RI; 18. Charles Canfield, New Haven
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modifieds (25-laps): 1. Randy Churchill Jr., Oakdale; 2. Paul Buzel, Trumbull; 3. Corey Barry, Plainfield; 4. Paul French, Andover; 5. Victoria Bergenty, Plainville; 6. Rick Williams, Haddam; 7. Glenn Griswold, Vernon; 8. Larry Goss, North Windham; 9. Crystal Serydynski, Johnston, RI; 10. Jeff Fialkovich, Shelton; 11. Chris Ignazio, Colchester; 12. Alan Tirrell, North Stonington; 13. Christopher Gombos, Naugatuck; 14. Joe Fraulino Jr., East Hampton; DNS – Calvin Therrien, Vernon
New England Truck Series (25-laps): 1. Allen Coates, Ledyard; 2. Chris Correll, Uncasville; 3. Corey Coates, Ledyard; 4. Duane Noll, Monroe; 5. Andy Lindeman, Poestenkill, NY; 6. Bert Ouellette, Ellington; 7. Mike Parker, Uncasville; 8. D.J. McGouran, Westerly, RI; 9. Glen Noll, Naugatuck; 10. Pete Cayer, Bristol; 11. Trever Dyer, Wolcott; 12. Cassie Coates, Ledyard; 13. Tyler Chapman, Mystic; 14. Kendall Metcalf, North Stonington; 15. Brandin Chase, Concord, NH; 16. Paul Varrichio Sr., Meriden; 17. Brad Caddick, New London; 18. Joe Gada, Salem