Tag Archives: Sunoco Modifieds

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. 

Pitkat Earns Second Two-Win Weekend of 2019 at Thompson

Noah Watts/Myracenews photos

THOMPSON, Conn. — The stars of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions took center stage on Labor Day Sunday, September 1, a makeup day after the original event was rained out in early summer. With only three races left in the championship battles, competitors in each division were seeking every advantage they could get as time runs out on the season.

Woody Pitkat had a big afternoon — earning two wins on the same day for the second time this year at Thompson, continuing his late-summer surge in his push for the Late Model and Sunoco Modified titles. In the Late Model division, former champion William Wall held a 13-point advantage over Pitkat coming into the weekend’s 25-lap feature, but Pitkat carried momentum having won two of the last three races. Wall took an early lead before a late-race caution allowed Pitkat to take the top spot. 

It looked like Pitkat was well on his way to another win before another caution set up a two-lap sprint to the finish. Ryan Morgan, who sat third in points coming into the afternoon, wrestled away the lead from Pitkat with an aggressive move that left Pitkat frustrated after the checkered flag waved.

While Morgan was initially named the winner, his car was disqualified post-race after he refused inspection. That handed Pitkat his third win of the season, putting him within ten points of William Wall for the championship lead. The penalty also eliminated Morgan from the points battle — meaning the championship will likely be decided between Pitkat and Wall. 

Pitkat was given the opportunity to speak in victory lane at the end of all of the feature events where he thanked his sponsors. “I can’t thank these guys enough. I felt like I pretty much had that race won and got used up there for the win. Some people want to race like that, but that’s not how I race. I’m glad we were able to get the win,” said Pitkat.

Pitkat also scored a dominating win in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature, but his chances of earning that title are slim going into the final two events. Keith Rocco came in with a sizable 44-point advantage over Pitkat, and despite a dominating run, Pitkat left with a still-sizable 40-point deficit. Pitkat was proud that he was able to celebrate a victory with his family, having not yet learned he was the Late Model winner as well.

“I just wanted to win so bad,” Pitkat said. “I was really mad (about the Late Model finish) and wanted to win and when I get mad for some reason it makes me race a little harder. I just wanted to win one today really bad. My family is here, and they don’t get to come out every time. It’s nice to win when they’re here.”

The Limited Sportsman division has featured one of the most dramatic points battles all season at Thompson and that trend continued over Labor Day weekend with Shawn Monahan, who overcame a slow start to the season including a last-place finish in early June, looking to build on his eight-point lead over Kyle Gero. 

The 20-lap feature proved to be disastrous for Monahan, who found himself involved in a three-car accident eleven laps in after fighting for the lead with Scott Sundeen and Ryan Morgan. It would not be the only spin of the night for Monahan, who was relegated to a 16th place finish, while his closest competitors for the title, Kyle Gero and Megan Fuller, each earned top-five finishes. Gero now carries a 16 points advantage over Fuller with two races remaining while Monahan finds himself 17 points behind in his journey for a third consecutive title.

Meanwhile, Ryan Waterman scored his second Limited Sportsman win of 2019 in a brand new car. Waterman, who is well out of the points battle, said the race was a good opportunity for his team to test out the new equipment in preparation for next season. He added that just because the title is out of reach doesn’t mean he will let off the gas in the final events of 2019.

“It was a blast today. I needed this after the last couple of weeks,” Waterman said. “This was kind of a shakedown to try some new stuff, so we didn’t have to mess with our primary car. We learned some more information for the other car too. I want to finish races and just be smart and patient. This race took a lot of patience to get to the front.”

The Mini Stock division continued the tightest points battle at Thompson, as Scott Michalski held a scant eight-point advantage over Steve Michalski coming into the 15-lap feature. Curry, who had won two of the last three events dating back to July, battled for the lead for much of the race and two laps remaining he made his move underneath leader Charles Canfield but was unable to complete the pass. 

Canfield earned his second victory of the season at Thompson.

“It was definitely fun racing with Doug. With two or three laps to go, I knew he was there, and I saw him have a run. I got a little nervous, but I just had to drive a little harder. He’s got a really good car and a really good crew. It was tough holding him off,” Canfield said.

By virtue of his runner-up finish, Doug Curry cut his points deficit down to only seven points and Steve Michalski pulled within only a single point from Scott Michalski who failed to crack the top five.

Finally, the SK Light Modified® title has been all but secured by Bryan Narducci, who came into the Labor Day weekend 20-lap feature with five wins and a 65-point edge on Albert Ouellette. Narducci continued his domination, controlling the bulk of the race and earning his sixth win of the season at Thompson.

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park jumps right back into the racing action on Sunday, September 8 with the penultimate races of the 2019 schedule, the Sunoco Modified 20/20 and For the Fans event. 

LIMITED SPORTMAN FINISH TOP-10: 1. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 2. Jordan Hadley (Oakdale, CT); 3. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 4. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 5. Meghan Fuller (Auburn, MA); 6. Al Stone (Durham, CT); 7. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 8. Steve Kenneway; 9. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 10. Randy Waterman, Sr. (Danielson, CT) 

MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Charles Canfield (East Haven, CT); 2. Doug Curry (Norwich, CT); 3. Dave Trudeau, Sr. (Mansfield, CT); 4. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 5. Russ Barboza (Griswold, CT); 6. Al Stone, III (Durham, CT); 7. Scott Michalski (Danielson, CT); 8. Andrew Krzeminski; 9. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 10. Bill Sylvia

LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, CT); 2. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 3. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 4. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 5. Derek Gluchacki (Dartmouth, MA); 6. Tony Macrino (Waterford, CT); 7. Mike Nenevides (Westerly, RI); 8. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 9. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 10. Buddy Charette (Woodstock, CT)

SUNOCO MODIFIED FINISH TOP-10: 1. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 2. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 3. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 4. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Todd Patnode; 7. Joey Gada (Uncasville, CT); 8. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 9. Paul LaPlante (Scituate, RI); 10. Justin Albernaz (Rehoboth, MA)

SK LIGHT MODIFIED® FINISH: 1. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 2. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 3. Bert Ouellette (Ellington, CT); 4. Anthony Marvin (Colchester, CT); 5. Nathan Pytko (Oxford, MA); 6. John O’Sullivan (Salem, CT); 7. Matt Janisch; 8. Todd Taylor (Stonington, CT)

Statement from Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Regarding Penalty Report

Tom Morris/Myracenews photos

After an extensive appeal process, a decision regarding penalties, fines and disqualifications stemming a recent Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park penalty report has been overturned. 
Originally, Sunoco Modified driver Todd Owen and SK Light Modified driver Bryan Narducci had been penalized following results of a laboratory test regarding tire samples taken on Sunday, August 4. However, after the appeal, through Thompson Speedway’s determination, no evidence was found that the drivers intentionally treated the tires as prohibited in Thompson rules. Therefore, Narducci has been credited with the victory in the Sunday, August 4 SK Light Modified feature, and Owen has been credited with his third-place finish in the Sunoco Modified feature.

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park officials will reconsider this section of the rulebook — which will allow officials to further define the process in the future.

With three races remaining in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season, Narducci leads the SK Light Modified point standings by 65 points and Owen is third, 45 points out of the lead in the Sunoco Modifieds. Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park returns to NASCAR action on Sunday, September 1.