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Ronnie Williams beats Keith Rocco in Thompson Sunoco Modified thriller

Paul Lambert/STS

In an absolutely spectacular battle to the finish line, Ronnie Williams outdueled Keith Rocco to grab his first Thompson SK modified win.

After Rocco dove underneath Williams to take the lead with less than five laps to go, Williams shunted Rocco up the racetrack in turn three on the last lap. While Rocco was able to regain control, Williams beat him to the line by only three-hundredths of a second.

Williams defended the move as good, hard racing, arguing that contact is part of short-track battles.

“[Rocco] has done it to me here before,” Williams said of the bump-and-run. “It’s not like it’s the first time someone’s ever bumped a guy to win a race here. I’m sure he’s done it many times. We were going for the win. I’m not really here to make friends.”

After being pushed around by veterans, Williams saw the move as an opportunity to establish himself as a racer not to be messed with.

“It’s my turn to come out here and do my job,” he said. “If I’m in that same position next week, do you think [Rocco] lets me win? No… wins are so hard to come by in SK. I’ve been racing here for three years and still hadn’t gotten one.”

Rocco saw the move as a step up in aggression going forward.

“I already am aggressive, but I run people clean,” Rocco told Short Track Scene. “I run with respect.”

In the future, Rocco may respond to big bumps in kind with more contact.

“Down the road, we’ll do that,” he said. “If that’s the tone we’re going to set for the year, then that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Williams and Rocco were followed by Timothy Jordan, Corey Barry, and Justin Albernaz.

Sixth was Zachary Leone, followed by John Berchem, Paul LaPlante, Mike Christopher Jr, and Jason Sundeen.

Two red flags due to crashes slowed the race, and set up an exciting battle for the win.

Mike Christopher took the lead from Williams on lap 12. Williams wasn’t done yet, however, getting the lead back six laps later.

Christopher and Rocco would tangle with less than ten laps to go, as Christopher was squeezed into the wall off of turn four.

Race control chose to put Rocco to the rear of the field, a penalty Rocco was surprised by.

“That was the only call [race control] made all day,” said Rocco. “The way I saw it was [Christopher] stuck his nose in a bad spot… By any means, it wasn’t intentional, but that’s just a tough spot and a tough call to make.”

Only eight cars were running at the checkered flag. The full results can be found below:

  1. Ronnie Williams
  2. Keith Rocco
  3. Timmy Jordan
  4. Corey Barry
  5. Justin Albernaz
  6. Zachary Leone
  7. John Berchem
  8. Paul LaPlante
  9. Mike Christopher Jr.
  10. Jason Sundeen
  11. Josh Zentek
  12. Adam Gada
  13. Troy Talman
  14. Woody Pitkat
  15. Joey Gada
  16. Todd Owen
  17. Andrew Moeller
  18. Eddie Fatscher
  19. Robert Palmer
  20. Joe Allegro Jr.
  21. Paul Buzel
  22. Kyle James

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Paul Lambert is an aspiring collegiate journalist. A writer and broadcaster, Paul's excited to cover New England short track racing in 2019. Paul has also been published in Speedway Illustrated and on Autoweek.com.

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