DEFEATS TODD OWEN IN FINAL THOMPSON STANDINGS
BY KYLE SOUZA, FOR THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK
THOMPSON, Conn. – For the seventh time in his Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park career, Keith Rocco is celebrating a championship in the Sunoco Modified division.
The Berlin, Connecticut, driver captured the 2018 championship by 18 points over Todd Owen on the strength of four feature wins in seven championship events.
Rocco finished inside the top five in all but one race, the finale, where he was caught up in a wreck that actually happened under caution in the midst of the Sunoco World Series 30-lap feature. Luckily for the veteran, he didn’t need the points to hold the trophy again.
“We got run over when the yellow was out from behind, but thankfully we just had to start the race to lock this up,” Rocco said. “It would have been pretty stressful if that wasn’t the case.”
The title pushes him into second all-time in NASCAR Whelen All American Series track championships, with a total of 16. Rocco has seven at Thompson, three at Stafford Motor Speedway and six at New London-Waterford Speedbowl – all tracks in the “Nutmeg State.”
He only trails Joe Kosiski, who has 17 titles, for the most all-time. The championship marks his third straight in Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division. He has been driving for Mark Payne behind the wheel of the No. 57 in the Division I class.
“We just surrounded ourselves with great people,” Rocco said. “The past 10 years we have collected a lot of championships. To have that many over the years, I just can’t thank all my guys enough and everyone that has helped me enough.”
Over years of competing on the .625-mile oval, Rocco has always seemed to have the speed he needed to win races, and win a lot of them.
“We’ve had really good success here,” he said. “Ever since the first time I drove a modified here I feel in love with the place, the high-banks, the speed and the racing.”
By winning the season-finale, Todd Owen finished second in the championship standings, 18 points from the top. Kyle James was third, 37 back, while Troy Talman was fourth and Marcello Rufrano, a Rookie of the Year contender, rounded out the top five.
The battle at the top of the Sunoco Modified standings wasn’t much of a race through the summer, with Rocco pulling away. He indicated after the race he would be back next season to compete again.
“It’s so fun,” Rocco said. “We didn’t struggle today, but we didn’t have the speed we wanted. It just makes us word harder and come back stronger next year.”
Rocco will be officially crowned champion, along with the other four NASCAR Whelen All American Series title holders, at the 2018 Awards Banquet and Celebration, with a date to be announced soon.