Despite establishing himself over the last five years as one of the top weekly short track drivers in the country, Keith Rocco quiet’s demeanor has seemingly gone unchanged.
In the ranks of Modified racing, late team owner Lenny Boehler was long known for doing more with less better than anybody else. There was hardly anything eye catching about the cars Boehler fielded, but it was the record of success those cars had that made them legendary.
Boehler died in 2001 but his “Ol’ Blue” Modified remains an icon in the sport and this season it will be Rocco behind the wheel of the Boehler Racing Enterprises No. 3 on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Rocco, 27, makes his debut with BRE this weekend when the Whelen Modified Tour opens its 2012 season with the running of the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson International Speedway. Qualifying for the event is Saturday and the feature will run Sunday.
Rocco said his father Ronnie, a legendary Modified driver in his own right, long ago taught him that having the fanciest equipment or race shops didn’t earn trophies.
“The great thing is that I think it’s a great match between them and me in the way I operate and the way they operate,” said Rocco, of Wallingford. “I see when I go to the shop. There’s an old saying my father has always told me that you’re not racing haulers and you’re not racing shops. When you go there that’s what you see. It’s pretty cool to drive a car that fits that with my history and what my father taught me. When I told my father that I got that ride he said Lenny Boehler was his idol. My father’s cars always went good but they were always ratty looking. Back when Lenny was around that was the way it was.”
Rocco’s experience on the Whelen Modified Tour is limited, but his prowess in weekly division SK Modified racing at Stafford Motor Speedway, the Waterford Speedbowl and Thompson International Speedway has been unchallenged over the last five years. Rocco won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series short track national title in 2010. He finished second in the country in the national short track standings in 2009 and 2011 and was fourth in the nation in both 20007 and 2008.
Rocco has five career Whelen Modified Tour starts. He made his first start in the division with a 14th place finish in an event at Thompson driving for Joe Brady in 2008. In 2009 he made three starts for car owner Ed Partridge, recording a career best fifth place finish in the division in his first start for the team. He made one start last year, running the division’s season ending event in a car owned by himself and Mark Pane. Rocco also won a race on the touring Valenti Modified Racing Series last season.
“I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to run Tour stuff, but the few opportunities I have had I made the most of,” Rocco said. “The ability is there it’s just a matter of getting in a rhythm. I think once we start plugging off some good finishes I think we’re going to roll along pretty smooth.”
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