Keith Rocco wasn’t in contention for much of the Thompson 300 Sunday evening, but he got to the front when it mattered most.
After locking up an eighth Thompson Modified title earlier in the day, Rocco made the race winning pass on Jon McKennedy with 18 laps to go. In the process, Rocco pocketed $20,000 with the winner’s check.
“This is a pretty big deal for us,” Rocco said. “They’re all saying ‘well, you’re not a [Whelen Modified] Tour driver… I don’t want to sound cocky, but we just beat all the Tour drivers. I’m sure they’re going to find something to say about me and throw me under the bus, but at the end of the day, we got the trophy and we got the check.”
Rocco found himself at the back of the lead lap, but spun in turn four with 28 laps to go. That caution allowed Rocco to come get fresh tires, which he used to charge through the field in just 10 laps.
“We were a 10th-place car at that point, but it fell in our favor,” he said.
Buddy Charette finished second, followed by Ron Silk, Anthony Nocella and Matt Swanson. Rounding out the top-1o were Doug Coby, Andrew Krause, Tommy Barrett, Chris Pasteryak and Justin Bonsignore.
McKennedy, who led over half the race before dropping out with a mechanical failure with 10 laps to go, was furious after the race at Rocco’s spin, which he claimed was an instance of Rocco making his own luck.
“Going forward, if you draw an intentional yellow, it’s a penalty, it’s a one-lap penalty,” he said. “You got guys like Rocco and a few others in the last 30 laps spinning themselves out to put tires on. That’s just fucking bullshit. Shame on them. He won. Great job. He should’ve won, he’s on 30-lap tires… Bogus. Should’ve been a called penalty. He’s been racing here since he was a baby. Never left the state of Connecticut. You don’t just spin out on your own.”
Rocco cited the season-opening race in the Icebreaker, when Bobby Santos spun late in the race before pitting for tires.
“Couldn’t hang on,” Rocco said of the spin.
Much of the race was a war of attrition. 15 of the 25 cars that started failed to finish.
Pasteryak started on the pole before Coby took the early lead. Eight drivers swapped the lead 15 times.
15 cautions slowed the race. On lap 101, the field was stopped on the frontstretch for a wreck involving seven cars on a restart.
All 10 cars that finished the race did so on the lead lap.
The full results can be found below:
- Keith Rocco
- Buddy Charette
- Ron Silk
- Anthony Nocella
- Matt Swanson
- Doug Coby
- Andrew Krause
- Tommy Barrett
- Chris Pasteryak
- Justin Bonsignore
- Jon McKennedy
- Andrew Molleur
- Eric Goodale
- Craig Lutz
- John Montesanto
- Mike Christopher Jr.
- Nick Anglace
- Anthony Sesely
- Patrick Emerling
- Josh Zentek
- Andy Jankowiak
- Dave Sapienza
- Noah Korner
- Ronnie Williams
- Chase Dowling