WATERFORD – By time the dust settled Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco’s SK Modified looked like somebody had rammed it with a wrecking ball.
Rocco, of Wallingford, rallied in dramatic fashion from an early wreck and won the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Saturday at Waterford.
Tom Abele Jr. of Norwich was second and Nichole Morgillo of Yalesville third. It was the fourth victory in six SK Modified division starts at the Speedbowl this year for Rocco.
Rocco came back after pitting to repair damage on lap 16 and dove deep under Abele going into turn one to take the lead with three laps left.
“I might have to clean a little mud up off the undercarriage, but, if there’s asphalt I’m going to use it,” Rocco said of the race winning pass that seemed to have the left side of his car in the infield grass. “I don’t think he knew it was coming. I think he blinked and I was there. I was working working the top, working the top and then coming down the front straightaway I knew [going to the bottom] was my opportunity.”
Abele seemed in disbelief by Rocco’s move after the event.
“When I saw Keith go in the pits I was super excited because I knew I had a shot [to win],” Abele said. “… With five [laps] to go I thought the race was mine. All of the sudden it was just a big black and orange blur that just knocked me and went by me. It’s like you can’t stop it. You can’t protect the bottom when I’m on the bottom lane and he’s using the grass and the apron to get by you.”
Rocco’s rear end was caved and his rear spoiler damaged when he got hit from behind during an early multi-car wreck in the event. After losing second place to Rob Janovic Jr. with 18 laps left, Rocco decided to head to the pits to try and make repairs.
“Anyone who says these rear spoilers don’t make a difference, they do,” Rocco said. “That’s all we did when we came in, we made a little bit of a spoiler adjustment, a little duct tape, and it was a night and day difference. The difference between third and fifth to me is no difference so I figured we might as well come in and try to at least make a win out of it.”
With six laps remaining Rob Janovic Jr. made contact with leader Tyler Chadwick, sending Chadwick spinning. Damage from the incident slowed Janovic also and put Abele into the lead.
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