Tag Archives: SK Modifieds

Ryan Preece Posts $500 SK Modified® Bonus for NAPA Fall Final

Tom Morris/Myracenews photo

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Ryan Preece Racing has announced a $500 bonus for Sunday’s SK Modified® feature at the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final. The bonus will be split with $250 going to the winner and $250 to the hard charger of the race, the driver advancing the most positions over the course of the feature.  With the bonus, Sunday’s 40-lap SK Modified® feature will pay $2,075 to win, with a total posted purse of $10,060.

“I’m excited to have the ability to post this bonus for Stafford’s SK Modified® teams,” explained Preece.  “I attribute much of the opportunities I have today to my time spent on the Stafford half-mile running against guys like Ted Christopher, Keith Rocco, and Woody Pitkat.  The SK Modified® division is one of the toughest weekly divisions in the country and is home to some of the best short track talent around.”

Preece is no stranger to Stafford Victory Lane, notching 35 career victories including back to back Spring Sizzler® wins and a $12,000 pay day in the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K, the richest SK Modified race of the season.  Most recently Preece grabbed the win in the June 2019 Stafford Open Modified 80 in Ryan Preece fashion, pitting late and blasting through the field with just 25 laps to go.

“I wanted to post a hard charger award because the challenge at Stafford is starting deep in the field,” continued Preece, driver of the #47 JTG Racing Cup Car.  “With Stafford’s handicapping system and big car counts the top drivers always end up starting outside the top-10.”

Preece is currently in his rookie season in the Monster Energy Cup Series driving the #47 car for JTG Daugherty racing. Ryan has scored 3 top 10’s in his rookie campaign including a career best 3rd place run at Talladega in April.

“We want to thank Ryan for posting this bonus,” explained Stafford General Manager Mark Arute.  “Ryan’s passion for short track racing is unrivaled and he is a great representative of modified racing at the cup level.  All of us at Stafford are proud to have a past SK Modified® champion competing at the highest level of our sport and we look forward to whenever he gets a chance to come back to half-mile to compete.”

Tickets for this weekends NAPA Fall Final Weekend, September 28 & 29, are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission, $10.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seat tickets are $45.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking along with overnight parking available for self contained Recreational Vehicles. Discount tickets are available through participating NAPA stores.

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Keith Rocco Looks To Seal Eighth Thompson Sunoco Modified Title at Sunoco World Series

By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park 

Tom Morris/Myracewnews photo

THOMPSON, Conn. — Twelve years ago, Keith Rocco hoisted his first championship trophy in the Sunoco Modified division at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. 

At the time, it’s hard to think the Berlin, Connecticut, driver knew the title run would begin a stretch of dominance at TSMP. Over the last 12 years, Rocco has seven championships in the division, including the last three – and he is in position to clinch another as the 57th annual Sunoco World Series — October 11-13 – draws closer. 

He leads Woody Pitkat by 40 points heading into the finale, which is a lead he should be more than comfortable with. Thompson competitors earn 50 points for winning a feature race, while each position down through the field earns two less, meaning second earns 48, third receives 46, etc. In heat races, the winner earns five points, with a one-point drop throughout the top five, with fifth earning just one. Pitkat would need Rocco to have a major stumble to have a shot. 

How is Rocco able to have this success every single year? 

“It’s just a passion for racing. If anything, things seem to get easier with the amount of years that we have run. It isn’t as stressful as it was in the beginning, when I was trying to get those first championships,” Rocco said. “But the competition is definitely the fiercest it has been in the last couple of years.” 

With 48 different drivers taking a green flag in Sunoco Modified racing so far this season, the competition level has spiked, and Rocco has some stiff contenders to pick up feature wins. But that hasn’t slowed him down. Rocco has four wins in the races to date, which puts him tied with Ronnie Williams for the most in the division. Pitkat has two wins, and the three of them have combined to score 10. 

“From the first day I went to race Thompson, Woody has been there. We’ve raced a long time and we race really well together,” Rocco said. “Woody is in pristine equipment this year and it’s definitely stepped up his program.” 

In the familiar black and orange No. 57, Rocco competes for the Pane family. The success they are having together shows how strong the chemistry is. 

“The thing about racing with the Pane family that separates them from the average team, we ended up getting together, I got a call with an offer for a car and he knew I had a shot at a NASCAR national title,” Rocco said. “We started working together and we had a few different crew chiefs, and when we really started having a lot of success, he encouraged me and told me I knew these cars better than anyone else. They really backed me to do things how I want to do it and I think that’s what separates us from everyone else. They put all of their trust in me.” 

On the stats front, his eighth track title would be his 17th overall NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I track championship. Rocco also has six championships to his credit under the NASCAR sanction at New London-Waterford Speedbowl, and three at Stafford Motor Speedway. Before the World Series ever takes the green flag, Rocco could increase his number by one.  

He trails Ronnie Williams and Todd Owen in the Stafford championship battle, and he’s just 16 points from the top. If he can win at least one between the two tracks, he will tie Joe Kosiski for the most Division I track titles in NASCAR history. If he can win both, he will make the record his own. 

On the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship front, Rocco finished fifth this season, just 18 points from the top. He did win the national title back in 2010, but his competition for the crown includes drivers who compete at three tracks down south. Rocco only competes at two in New England. 

“I haven’t looked as those standings all year, we just go out and do our thing,” Rocco said. “It’s not something I can change because we are limited to two tracks, and it’s tough racing against guys down south. I’m happy to be up there again. I’m also extremely happy to be able to get a National Title back in 2010– that was a perfect season for us – and I’m not sure if anyone in New England will ever have the chance do that again. There are so many different drivers that win up here, and it’s hard to dominate like that.” 

For now, Rocco will shift his focus on capturing the title at Stafford Motor Speedway at their Fall Final on Sunday, September 29. After that, all eyes will turn towards the 57th annual Sunoco World Series at Thompson, October 11-13, where the division will open Sunday festivities with a 30-lap feature. 

“We’ll go out there and try to win the race like we always do,” Rocco said. “To me, it’s just another number (the eighth title). I’ve always gone to Thompson to win races and it’s always been my type of racetrack. It’s fast, and the way you drive it down in the corner, the adrenaline is a real rush because of the high speeds.” 

The 57th annual Sunoco World Series will take the green flag on Friday, October 11, and roll through Sunday, October 13. The event begins on Friday, with practice sessions running throughout the afternoon, and qualifying heat racing set to begin at approximately 4:30 p.m. Feature racing on Friday includes the Granite State Pro Stock Series, Late Models, Open Vintage Modifieds and Senior Tour Auto Racers. 

Saturday, action begins early with practice at 9 a.m., while qualifying racing begins at 2:30 p.m. There are 10 different feature races planned for Saturday night. Sunday, action begins at 1 p.m., with the season-finale for Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division. The NEMA Lites, ISMA Supermodifieds and TSMP Limited Sportsman will also join the headliner of Sunday — the Sunoco World Series 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. 

Admission to the paddock area for the entire three days is $75, with grandstand general admission set at $55. Any seniors (65+), veterans and active military will have general admission tickets priced at $50, while kids 12 and under are free in general admission.  

Thompson’s annual breakfast and dinner buffets will also take place during Sunoco World Series weekend. The breakfast buffet runs from 7-11 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and is $14 per person. The dinner buffet runs from 5-11 p.m. on Saturday night only and is $24 per person. For any children 12 and under, the dinner buffet is $14.  

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

Stafford Speedway SK Modified® Title Race Comes Down to Final 2 Races

Tom Morris/Myracenews photos

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Heading into the final 2 races of the 2019 SK Modified® season at Stafford Speedway, defending track champion Ronnie Williams holds an 8-point lead over Todd Owen, a 14 point lead over Keith Rocco and a 34 point lead over Michael Gervais, Jr.  The tight points race is reminiscent of the 2017 and 2015 seasons. In 2017 Keith Rocco came from 20 points back over the final 2 races to claim the title over Chase Dowling while in 2015 Rowan Pennink  outlasted current NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series driver Ryan Preece in a tight race for the title.

The 2019 season kicked off with Rocco winning the first race of 2019 but a DNF and a 25th place finish in the second race of the year left Rocco in hole that he is still trying to dig out of.  Gervais took over the points lead after that second race and he held the lead until June 21 when Owen took over the point lead.  Owen led the points from June 21 through August 9, when a first lap wreck combined with a Williams win, erased Owen’s 42 point advantage and left the two drivers tied for the lead in the standings.  Williams and Rocco have each won twice in the four SK Modified® races since August 9th, setting up a 2-race sprint to the finish line to see who will become the 2019 SK Modified® champion.

“We started off kind of slow and it was right around the midpoint of the season that we got back into our groove and we’ve been real consistent and got some wins,” said Williams, the driver of the #50 Les’s Auto Center Ford.  “I always knew if we could be consistent and get some wins that we’d at least be in the hunt for another championship.  I think we’re in a good spot right now and of course last year was better since we had a 66-point lead.  It should be a nice tight battle with Keith [Rocco] and [Todd] Owen.  We’re not going to change anything or go into the last 2 races with a different mindset than we’ve done all season long.  We have to compete and the rest will take care of itself.  Anything can happen in these last 2 races.  It’s great to be in front like we are now but we all know that just one mistake could cost us the championship and it’s the same for the other guys.”

“I’m going do what I’ve been doing all year long and try to win the last two races and hope for the best,” said Owen, driver of the #81 Cooker Construction Chevrolet.  “No matter the outcome, we’ve had an awesome year.  It’s pretty crazy that top-3 in the SK Modified® points standings are all in the top-10 in the national points, so we’re all having awesome seasons.”

“DNF’s have killed us this year,” said Rocco, driver of the #88 Wheelers Auto Chevrolet.  “We won the first race and then in the second race we got caught up in a wreck and were one of the first cars out of the race that night.  We’ve been playing catch-up all year long and the last time we got close to the lead we ended up in a wreck again, so it’s been that kind of year.  We have a fast car and we’re looking to win the last couple races.  The thing we have going for us is that we have nothing to lose and the other guys do.  There’s nothing left on the table, it’s all going to be hanging out these last 2 races.”

The dark horse in the SK Modified® championship race would be Gervais.  The driver of the #33 Gervais Brothers Roofing Chevrolet won the 2009 SK Light championship at Stafford without winning a race that season and although he is 34 points or 17 positions on the track behind the leader that deficit can be erased in one night.

“Our plan is to try to finish up front these last 2 races,” said Gervais.  “We’ve had a really good car the last couple of weeks so we want to continue what we’ve been doing.  We started off the year really good with a couple of second place finishes and were sitting up front for a while, but some of the other guys were just a little bit better than we were and that’s how the lead slipped away from us.  We’ve been able to stay right there with those guys all season so it’s been an awesome year for sure.  I’ve never won a Spring Sizzler or Fall Final race so I’d love to win the Fall Final this season but we’d definitely take a win this Friday night as well.  We know we can win a championship without winning a race and anything can happen in these last 2 races.  Either way we’re all very happy with what we’ve accomplished this season.”

The race for the SK Modified® championship resumes this Friday, September 13 as part of First Responder Night at Stafford.  All first responders with proper I.D. will get a general admission ticket for only $10.  Regular tickets are priced at $20 for Adult General Admission, $5 for kids 6-14 and kids 5 & under are free.  Reserved seating is $23 for all ages. 

The SK Modified® champion will be determined at the season ending NAPA Fall Final on September 28-29.  Tickets for the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission tickets, $10.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $45.00 for all ages. All NAPA Fall Final tickets are good for admission on both Saturday and Sunday.  Discount tickets for the NAPA Fall Final Weekend are available at your local participating NAPA Auto Parts Store.  The NAPA tickets include general admission for both days along with a lunch buffet on Sunday, all for only $38 per person.  For a list of participating NAPA Stores, please click the PARTICIPATING NAPA STORES link found at the top of the www.staffordspeedway.com homepage.  All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. 

For more information, visit StaffordSpeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.