Tag Archives: Keith Rocco

NASCAR CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLES HEAT UP WITH SUNDAY SPECIAL AT THOMPSON SPEEDWAY

By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park 

Tom Morris/Myracenews photo

THOMPSON, Conn. — With just three races remaining in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season, championship battles will heat up on Sunday when Thompson Speedway returns to action with another Sunday showdown. As part of a full card of racing, Lock City Drift will compete in The Clubhouse Circuit Showdown, and kids will have a chance to win prize packs, giveaways and more as part of Back to School Night at TSMP. A full bouncy house will be setup on the midway along with plenty of other games and activities to enjoy on top of the racing. 

Three of Thompson’s five championship races have tight battles right at the top. In the Limited Sportsman division, Shawn Monahan is looking for his third straight title, and picking up three checkered flags has earned him his spot at the top of the standings in 2019.  

Monahan leads by just a mere eight points over Kyle Gero, who doesn’t have any victories, but has been consistent enough to stay in the fight. Meghan Fuller, who is just 20 points back, is looking to follow in the footsteps of her successful family name by earning her first title this year. Ryan Morgan (27 points back) and Brent Gleason (32 points back) complete the top five. With heat races awarding drivers points, and the large car count in this division, it’s truly anyone’s championship to win. 

The Mini Stock championship battle has two Michalski names at the top, but another driver closing in. Scott Michalski earned his first and only victory of the season as part of the Thompson 125 in June and leads by eight points over Steve Michalski. In seven feature races, these two are the only drivers to score top 10 finishes in each event. However, Doug Curry, who has been to Victory Lane in two of the last three races, is just 19 points back, looking for his first Thompson title.  

In search of his second Late Model championship, William Wall leads by 13 over Woody Pitkat, who’s been to the winner’s circle in two of the last three races. Wall has been consistent, finishing inside the top five in all but one of the Late Model races so far. Pitkat, driving for Hartwell Motorsports, is no stranger to winning success, but seems to have found a bit more over the last few races. Both drivers are former champions of the division and are going to go down to the wire battling for the 2019 crown. Ryan Morgan is third, just 22 back, while Derek Gluchacki is fourth, 28 points out. These two drivers will be right in contention if one of the top two slip. 

For the last three years, and seven times overall, Keith Rocco has been the king of Thompson Speedway’s Sunoco Modified division. And with just three races left, he leads by nearly one-race distance over the rest of the pack, 44 points, in search of another crown. Rocco has three victories in seven events and is the only driver in the field to score more than one win. Woody Pitkat is second, while Todd Owen sits third, 45 back. A total of 39 different Sunoco Modified drivers have already been on the track this season. 

Bryan Narducci’s path towards his first SK Light Modified® title isn’t going to be easy down the stretch. Albert Ouellette is second, and former Mini Stock champion Wayne Burroughs Jr. is third, quickly finding the speed under the hood of his No. 32. This could be one of Thompson’s more competitive championship battles when the final race of the season begins at the Sunoco World Series in October.  

Pit areas open for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions at 10:30 a.m., with practice scheduled to take the first green flag at 12:30 p.m. Lock City Drift will also begin their practice and qualifying action at 12:30 p.m.  

NASCAR heat races begin at 2:30 p.m., with feature racing to follow at approximately 4:30 p.m. Fans can enter the grandstands for just $18, a ticket that will give access to both the NASCAR racing and Lock City Drift. Those seniors (65+), veterans and active military can enter the grandstands for $16. As always, children 12 and under are free in general admission.  

Anyone who wishes to purchase a pit pass can do so for $35, but fans should note that any children that enter the pit area must pay full price. 

For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans are encouraged to visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Doug Coby Bests Justin Bonsignore To Claim Bud 150 Crown

Tom Morris/Myracenews photos

THOMPSON, Conn. — The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour took center stage at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday, August 14 for the third time in 2019 with the 30th running of the Budweiser King of Beers 150. Coming into the race three drivers were considered the ones to watch. Points leader Doug Coby looked to extend his perfect streak of top ten finishes on the season, second place Ron Silk sought his third consecutive series victory, and third place defending champion Justin Bonsignore was looking for his seventh consecutive win at Thompson. 

Coby earned the early edge by grabbing the pole in group qualifying earlier in the evening, but Bonsignore made sure to keep the five-time champion in his sights, staying within striking distance of Coby through the first half of the race. A caution on lap 83 brought the field to pit road where Jon McKennedy exited first and Justin Bonsignore beat Doug Coby back to the track giving him his best shot at the lead all night. 

A poor restart for McKennedy allowed Bonsignore to storm to the lead with 90-laps to go, but an impressive power move by Craig Lutz saw Bonsignore fall back to second where Doug Coby was waiting to pounce. While Bonsignore and Coby battled it out for the runner-up spot with 50-laps to go, Lutz opened a .422 second lead seeking his first Whelen Modified Tour victory. A pair of cautions forced Lutz to fend off both Bonsignore and Coby, but a hard charging Bobby Santos III proved too much for Lutz, who was forced to relinquish the lead on lap 128 leaving Lutz, Bonsignore and Coby hoping for one more shot at the win. 

They got their wish with just over ten laps to go as the fifth caution of the night led to chaos when Lutz spun his tires while Santos broke a shifter ending his day. The ensuing caution set up a clash between Doug Coby and Justin Bonsignore, but it was Coby who claimed another Thompson win and his fourth win of 2019. The victory was extra special as it came just days shy of Coby’s 40th birthday. 

“This is a special place for me and my family,” Coby said on Thompson Speedway in Victory Lane. “What a great race. My last Modified Tour race in my 30s and I won it. What a great decade it was for me and I hope my 40s are even better.” 

Justin Bonsignore settled for a runner up finish and saw his winning streak at Thompson come to an end. “It’s tough when you’re that close. It just didn’t work out tonight,” Bonsignore said after the race. “You’re not going to win every race. We were prepared for it to happen. I’ve probably been more prepared (to lose) as it’s gone more and more – we lost to the best car this year.” 

The NEMA Midgets followed up the Whelen Modified Tour with a 25-lap feature that saw Todd Bertrand lead the early laps of the event seeking a repeat victory after winning the same race in 2018. However, a mechanical failure 14 laps into the race sidelined Bertrand handing the advantage to points leader Avery Stoehr. Stoehr went on to earn the win defeating Randy Cabral by a margin of just over a second. The win was Stoehr’s first at Thompson in the NEMA Midgets and his best finish at the Big-T since a fourth-place result in 2015. 

In addition to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NEMA Midgets, Thompson’s five NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions also took to the track with only a handful of races remaining before the season finale in October. First up were the Sunoco Modifieds where Keith Rocco looked to continue to solidify his position as the frontrunner for what would be his eighth Thompson title. Rocco carried a 38-point lead into the race over Todd Owen and it was those two drivers who battled it out for the first ten laps. While Rocco would manage to fight off his rival, it wouldn’t be the last challenge for the reigning champion in the 30-lap feature. Rocco also defended his position against a hard-charging Woody Pitkat, but it was Ronnie Williams, who defeated Rocco in May, who offered the biggest challenge making several dives for the lead right up to the final corner. It wasn’t enough to dethrone the champion however as Rocco claimed his third win of the season and extended his points lead to 44. 

“(Williams) was really good. I do have to say tonight he showed me a lot of respect and that goes a long way,” Rocco said of his rival after the race. “He ran me like a gentleman tonight and that goes a long way – If we could race like that every night the two of us could put on one heck of a show.” 

Next up was the SK Light Modifieds® where points leader Bryan Narducci sought his sixth win of the year, with Albert Ouellette not far behind. However, neither driver would last long in the race, as the two points leaders were caught up in a multi-car incident only six laps into the 20-lap feature opening the door for a new winner to shine in the division. That driver was Teddy Hodgdon, who outraced former Thompson Mini Stock champion Wayne Burroughs, Jr. for his first Thompson victory. 

“I’ve always wanted to win here since I started last year. We’ve been very close many times, but we were able to do it tonight. The car was on rails,” the 18-year-old Hodgdon said in Victory Lane. “The car went away a little bit towards the end. (Burroughs) was coming. I knew he was better on the long run than I was, so I just had to defend, and we ended up getting a victory.”  

Sporting the closest points battle of Thompson’s five divisions, the Limited Sportsman series saw Shawn Monahan step up to the plate to take full control of the points race scoring his third victory of the season in dominating fashion. Monahan made it look easy cruising to a 1.4 second lead and walking away with a trophy and an eight-point lead over Kyle Gero putting Monahan in prime position to earn his third consecutive division title. 

“I’m going to take any win I can get – we can’t let go now. We’ve got a goal and there’s not even time out there to run in second place because somebody can get you when you least expect it,” Monahan said after the win. 

In the Mini Stocks, the points race was shuffled after both Scott and Steve Michalski, who sat first and second in points respectively with only six points separating them, each had problems in their heat races. This opened the door for Doug Curry, who was third in points facing a 35-point deficit, to cut into their lead. He took full advantage of his opportunity leading nearly the entire race and scoring his second win of 2019 making him the first multi-race victor in the Mini Stocks this season. Despite their troubles the Michalski’s still maintained a tight grip on the top two spots with finishes inside the top ten. Scott Michalski goes into the Labor Day race with an eight-point lead over Steve Michalski. 

Finally, the Late Models took to the track for a 25-lap feature with William Wall holding a 17-point advantage over Woody Pitkat for the championship. The points battle took a backseat to some division veterans however as Brian Tagg, Rick Gentes and Ryan Morgan, all virtually eliminated from the title hunt, looked to score a late-season win. Brian Tagg came away with the win while Woody Pitkat picked up minimal points over William Wall as the title contenders finished fourth and fifth respectively. 

Racing action returns to Thompson on Labor Day weekend for a makeup day of on-track action on Sunday, September 1. NASCAR’s Whelen All American Series divisions will take center stage as drivers seek valuable points with only two more races before the Sunoco World Series of Racing season finale in October.  

WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR 30TH ANNUAL BUD 150 FINISH TOP-10: 1. Doug Coby; 2. Justin Bonsignore; 3. Craig Lutz; 4. Jon McKennedy; 5. Timmy Solomito; 6. Jimmy Blewett; 7. Andrew Krause; 8. Patrick Emerling; 9. Matt Swanson; 10. Woody Pitkat 

NEMA FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Avery Stoehr; 2. Randy Cabral; 3. Paul Scally; 4. Mike Horn; 5. Bethany Stoher; 6. Jake Trainor; 7. Sammy Swindell; 8. Andy Lunt; 9. Jeff Champagne; 10. Todd Bertrand 

SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 2. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 3. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 4. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Noah Korner; 7. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Kyle James (Westerly, RI); 9. Adam Gada; 10. Danny Cates 

SK LIGHT MODIFIEDS© FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Teddy Hodgdon (Danbury, CT); 2. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 3. Nathan Pytko (Oxford, MA); 4. Wesley Prucker; 5. Anthony Marvin (Colchester, CT); 6. John O’Sullivan (Salem, CT); 7. Todd Taylor (Stonington, CT); 8. Matt MacDougall (Derby, CT); 9. Albert Ouellette (Ellington, CT); 10. Mikey Flynn (Hampden, MA) 

LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 2. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 3. Moose Douton (Niantic, CT); 4. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 5. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 6. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 7. Meghan Fuller (Auburn, MA); 8. Al Stone (Durham, CT); 9. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT); 10. Tommy Shea (New London, CT) 

MINI STOCK FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Doug Curry (Norwich, CT); 2. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 3. Glen Thomas, Jr.; 4. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 5. Joe Bavolacco (Stratford, CT); 6. JT Suprenant (Central Village, CT); 7. Scott Michalski (Danielson, CT); 8. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 9. Evan Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 10. John Ekdahl (Chepachet, RI) 

LATE MODEL FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 2. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT); 3. Rick Gentes (Harrisville, RI); 4. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 5. Derek Gluchacki (Dartmouth, MA); 6. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 7. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 8. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 9. Buddy Charette (Woodstock, CT); 10. Mike Benevides (Westerly, RI) 

Pitkat, Rocco, Douton, Silva & Narducci Win Sunday Features at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

WOODY PITKAT EARNS SECOND STRAIGHT LATE MODEL WIN; ROCCO, DOUTON, SILVA & NARDUCCI ALSO WIN SUNDAY AT THOMPSON SPEEDWAY  

By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (Noah Watts/Myracenews photo)

THOMPSON, Conn. — For the second straight week, Woody Pitkat was celebrating a checkered flag at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Sunday. Pitkat earned his second Late Model victory in a row in the 25-lap feature, but four other drivers also joined him as winners. Keith Rocco scored his second Sunoco Modified victory of the season, while Chris ‘Moose’ Douton (Limited Sportsman), Tommy Silva (Mini Stocks) and Bryan Narducci (SK Light Modifieds®) also were in Victory Lane.  

Pitkat, a Stafford, Connecticut, native, who earned his first Late Model victory of the season on July 28, also won the Sunoco Modified feature in the same evening. Sunday, Pitkat finished second in the Sunoco Modified feature, but took the Hartwell Motorsports No. 91 Late Model back to Victory Lane, dominating the second half of the race. He had to start deep in the field, but quickly worked his way to the front, passing for the lead on lap nine, and never looking back. He drove away from Rick Gentes after passing the former champion for the top spot. 

“My wife wasn’t here with my kids last weekend, but she said she was going to come this weekend and I knew it was going to be even harder to win today,” Pitkat said. “Both of my cars were awesome. I just can’t thank everyone enough, and I’m just glad my family was here for this.” 

Gentes looked to be in control of the race, in what he hoped was going to end with his return to Victory Lane, but after Pitkat was able to slide by, he had to settle for second. William Wall, who leads the Late Model championship standings with three races remaining, finished third, while Nick Johnson and Ryan Morgan were fourth and fifth. 

Rocco, who hadn’t been to Victory Lane since the season-opening Icebreaker in April, started sixth and worked his way to the lead by lap 11. Kyle James was able to lead the first four laps, before handing the lead over to Todd Owen. It wasn’t long before Owen, Pitkat, and Rocco were dueling it out for the top spot. 

The three Sunoco Modified veterans all had their time at the front of the pack, but when Rocco took the lead, he wasn’t giving it back. He would lead the final 19 laps of the feature, earning his second victory of the season in the first six races. The win also allows the seven-time and defending champion to extend his points lead even more heading down the stretch run. 

“I don’t know what it was, we have kind of been on a mission,” Rocco said. “It seemed like we were way off the pace for this time of the season for the amount of wins. The last week my mindset has just been nothing but winning. It’s great to race against veterans against Todd and Woody. It was great, respectful racing. I wish we could do it every week.” 

Pitkat would score his second straight podium, with a second-place finish, while Owen would cross the line third. Ronnie Williams and Troy Talman completed the top five. 

Chris “Moose” Douton returned to winning form at Thompson for the first time since 2011 in the 20-lap Limited Sportsman feature. Douton started deep in the field, but when the race hit the halfway point, he had already charged inside the top five. He took the lead on lap 15 and held on for the win. 

“I wanted to go water rafting this weekend, but my wife, my daughter, they told me we had to go racing,” Douton said. “We changed the springs and the engine and just went racing. We were around 10th or 15th place all year, and I was wondering if I could still win a race. I guess I’m not too old. I have a rocket ship for an older car.” 

Al Stone started from the front, and led the first seven laps, before Ryan Morgan was able to slide around and lead the field for his own five circuits. But when two-time and defending division champion Shawn Monahan made his way to the second spot, the race was on between the two frontrunners. Monahan took the lead from Morgan in turn one, but when they entered turn three, contact between the two leaders sent Monahan spinning, and Morgan to the rear for the contact. That handed the lead to Douton, who never relinquished it.  

Douton mentioned it was his first win in three years – with his last coming at Dillon Motor Speedway in South Carolina. The car he was competing in was a former machine that raced at Stafford Motor Speedway in the 1980s. Behind him, Kyle Gero, Jason Chicolas, Monahan and Corey Fanning completed the top five. 

After 15 laps of Mini Stock racing, Tommy Silva was holding his first checkered flag of the season. Silva, who had competed in three of the first five races driving his own car, made a switch and sat behind the wheel of one Jared Roy’s machines. In the end, the decision worked out well for the Gales Ferry, Connecticut, driver.  

“The last time I won a feature was in 2002 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, so it’s been quite some time,” Silva said. “It means so much. Everyone wants to win here. Thompson is special, so it’s a dream come true. Jared called me up on Thursday and asked me if I wanted to drive his car and I said ‘absolutely’… it worked out good . It was the fastest car I’ve ever driven.” 

Silva had the luxury of starting from the front, but his route to Victory Lane wasn’t an easy one. Douglas Curry, who was victorious in the recent event for the class, worked to the second spot early, and even took over the lead from Silva on lap eight. But when Curry spun in the lead in turn one, Silva moved by, and had to pace himself in the final laps to hold off Charles Canfield. As the field crossed the checkered flag, Silva was in front of Canfield, Russ Barboza, Ian Brew and Joe Bavolacco. 

In the final race of the evening, Bryan Narducci returned to his dominance in the SK Light Modified division, scoring his fifth victory in the first six races of the season. Narducci quickly got to the point on lap two and cruised to another win. In 10 career races at Thompson, Narducci has been to Victory Lane in nine of them. In the most recent event, he saw his eight-race winning streak snapped after contact in turn four on the final lap while leading. 

“The best thing to do was to come back and win this week, and we did that,” Narducci said. “I have to thank all of my sponsors.” Behind Narducci, Albert Ouellette and Nathan Pytko completed the podium, while former Mini Stock champion Wayne Burroughs Jr., and recent division winner John O’Sullivan rounded out the top five. 

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park returns to racing on Wednesday, August 14, when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into town for the 30th annual Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150. All five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will also be in competition for the mid-week special.  

For more information on Thompson Speedway, visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE (30 laps): 1. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 2. Woody Ptikat (Stafford, CT); 3. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 4. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Kyle James (Ashway, RI); 7. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Angelo Belsito (Auburn, MA); 9. Andrew Molleur (Shelton, CT); 10. Paul Buzel (Trumbull, CT) 

LATE MODEL FEATURE (25 laps): 1. Woody Pitkat (Stafford, CT); 2. Rick Gentes (North Smithfield, RI); 3. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 4. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 5. Ryan Morgan (North Franklin, CT); 6. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 7. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 8. Buddy Charette (Woodstock, CT); 9. Derek Gluchacki (North Dartmouth, MA); 10. Mike Benevides (Westerly, RI).

SK LIGHT MODIFIED ® FEATURE (20 laps): 1. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 2. Albert Ouellette (Ellington, CT); 3. Nathan Pytko; 4. Wayne Burroughs Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 5. John O’Sullivan (Salem, CT); 6. Alexander Pearl (Salem, CT); 7. Mikey Flynn (Hampden, MA); 8. Anthony Marvin (Colchester, CT); 9. Matt Rzewnicki; 10. Brett Gonyaw (Vernon, CT) 

LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE (20 Laps): 1. Chris ‘Moose’ Douton; 2. Kyle Gero (Uncasville, CT); 3. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 4. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 5. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 6. Ryan Morgan (North Franklin, CT); 7. Al Stone (Durham, CT); 8. Brent Gleason (Giswold, CT); 9. Nick Anderson (Oxford, MA); 10. Bo Norman (Clinton, CT). 

MINI STOCK FEATURE (15 laps): 1. Tommy Silva (Gales Ferry, CT); 2. Charles Canfield (East Haven, CT); 3. Russ Barboza (Willamantic, CT); 4. Ian Brew (Wood River Junction, RI); 5. Joe Bavolacco (Stafford, CT); 6. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 7. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 8. Evan Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 9. Andrew Krzeminski (Haddem, CT); 10. Douglas Curry (Groton, CT).