Waterford, CT — Keith Rocco scored victory in Saturday’s 35-lap SK Modified® main event without the last lap theatrics he used to win a week ago. Rocco took the lead early on and didn’t look back, capturing his second consecutive win in the division. Other winners from Saturday night action included Tim Jordan in the Late Models and Ronnie Oldham Jr. in the Street Stocks, while Chris Williams took the checkered in the Mini Stocks and Jason Palmer in Legends Cars action.
The 35-lap SK event began with Jeffrey Paul leading the first ten laps from his pole starting position. The action immediately heated up behind Paul as Corey Hutchings, Tyler Chadwick, Rob Janovic Jr., and Keith Rocco were jockeying for track position. Rocco, who came from the ninth starting spot, worked his M&M Motorsports #57 SK Mod in the low groove in the opening laps, and then moved to the ‘Bowl’s very capable outside groove. “I told my spotter to get me to the top when the field singled out” stated Rocco. “Fortunately that was real early”. He moved outside Janovic for fourth on lap 6, then outside Chadwick for third a lap later. Still in the high line, he pressured Hutchings for second before completing the pass just 2 laps later. He immediately went to work on the leader Paul, again using the high groove to gain the lead on lap 10. Hutchings and Chadwick followed Rocco around Paul, and the lead pack began to open up some space under green flag conditions.
At halfway, Rocco continued to lead Hutchings, Chadwick and Janovic. Jeff Pearl was making forward progress, moving into the top five by lap 19. The event’s first caution waved with 10 laps remaining for a spin by Wayne Arute. Rocco would get the jump on three ensuing restarts after more single car spins from the rear of the field. With just three laps remaining, contact in the lead pack sent cars scattering with Jeff Pearl and Dennis Gada taking direct hits, while Justin Gaydosh and Ron Yuhas Jr. also received damage. Only Yuhas was able to continue after a visit to the pits. Rocco resumed control on the restart and went on to the victory by a car length over Chadwick. Janovic, Shawn Solomito – making just his second career Speedbowl start, and Wendell Dailey completed the top-five. Hutchings, who ran second nearly the entire event, saw his strong run end in the turn 4 wall on the last lap as a victim of a cut tire.
The 30-lap Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature event was all Tim Jordan. Jordan took the lead on lap 2 and dominated the event, surviving the only restart after Marc Curtis spun to bring out caution at halfway, on lap 15. Jordan got the jump with a strong restart and was able to keep distance over the second place car of last week’s winner Bruce Thomas Jr. through the checkered, taking the win by four car lengths. Jordan, the 2006 Late Model Champion and Rookie of the Year, dedicated the win in memory of his mother in a heartfelt victory lane. He predicted several more battles with Thomas before the year was over. Vin Esposito, Jeff Smith, and Ernie Bertrand rounded out the top-five in the cleanly run event.
Oldham was the Street Stock winner, turning in a strong performance a week after a mid-race incident interrupted last week’s hunt for victory. Al Stone III took advantage of his front row starting spot to lead lap 1 before the only caution of the event came out for a fuel leak on the green flag. When the race resumed green, Stone would get the jump and take the lead while Oldham moved into second. The race-winning pass came at halfway, and Oldham stretched his lead over the final green flag laps with an impressive win. Walt Hovey Jr. moved past Stone for second, Stone hung on for third, Brandon Plemons took fourth, while it was returning Speedbowl competitor Ed Puleo finishing fifth.
The Norwich Bulletin Mini Stocks kicked off the night of racing with a stellar 20-lap event, setting the tone for the entire night of racing. Williams quickly moved to the point of the field and would begin to stretch out his lead under green flag conditions. Racing was tight behind, as the competitive division saw several of their top runners jostling for position trying to find the line that would take them to the front. Glenn Colvin, the 2004 division Champion, emerged from the pack in second and set chase on Williams. Colvin would get to Williams bumper, and even began to peek inside Williams but could never gain the wheel needed to make his way alongside. Williams picked up his first full distance Mini Stock win in eight years in the division, he previously won a rain shortened event. Last week’s winner Danny Field finally broke free of the pack but ran out of time in the green-to-checkered run and finished third. Mark Panaroni was fourth, and Randy Churchill completed the top-give.
Jason Palmer had a week he’d probably rather forget a week ago in the Legends Cars. He spun battling for the lead and was involved in an accident late in the event after making his way back through the pack. This week was a different story as Palmer, last year’s Wednesday Legends Champion, finished the night in Speedbowl Victory Lane. The Legends Cars put on a good show from the drop of the green flag with heated battles throughout the field. Mark Esposito would take the lead on lap three, with Palmer moving into contention and pressuring Esposito a short time later. Palmer would move in front on lap five. The field battled behind when the events only caution came out as Adam Gada spun into turn one from the front half of the pack causing a tense moment. Gada continued from the rear, and on the restart Palmer would get the jump and go on to the win. Shaun Buffington came through the field to finish second, Joey Cipriano turned in another strong run for third, Dennis Pantani recovered from a wreck a week ago to finish fourth, while young Max Zachem finished fifth.
The Speedbowl competitors provided a great night of racing for the crowd on hand and made for a light night for the track safety and clean up team – the entire race program was completed by 8:45p and had a total of just eight caution flags, six of them single car spins.
The Speedbowl returns to action next Saturday May 2 with another 5-division program featuring NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action for Late Models, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks. They will be joined by the NEATV Truck Series, going a 25-lap distance, plus the Legends Cars. The SK Modifieds will have the night off. Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesdays begin on May 6, and the True Value Modified Tour comes to town for a 100-lap event on May 9. For more information, visit www.speedbowl.com or contact the track offices at 860.442.1585
Speedbowl 4/25 finishers, hometown:
SK Modifieds (35-laps): 1. Keith Rocco, Wallingford 2. Tyler Chadwick, Ledyard 3. Rob Janovic Jr., Waterford 4. Shawn Solomito, Islip, NY 5. Wendell Dailey, Gales Ferry 6. Frank Mucciacciaro Jr., Milford 7. Todd Ceravolo, Gales Ferry 8. Joe Perry, Fishers Island, NY 9. Eric Goodale, Riverhead, NY 10. Ron Yuhas Jr., Groton 11. Jeffrey Paul, Ledyard 12. Don Fowler, Clinton 13. Mike Sweeney, Middletown 14. Corey Hutchings, Salem 15. Jeff Pearl, Salem 16. Dennis Gada, Salem
17. Justin Gaydosh, Newtown 18. Wayne Arute, Berlin 19. Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models (30-laps): 1. Tim Jordan, Plainfield 2. Bruce Thomas Jr., Groton 3. Vin Esposito, Seymour 4. Jeff Smith, Old Lyme 5. Ernie Bertrand, N. Branford 6. Brian Andronaco Jr., Wilton 7. Jimmy Rosenfield, Middleboro, MA 8. Richard Staskowski, Hope Valley, RI 9. Marc Curtis, Worcester, MA 10. Joe Curioso, Pawcatuck 11. Tom Metcalf, N. Stonington 12. Mark Hudson, Norton, MA 13. Larry Goss, N. Windham
Street Stocks (20-laps): 1. Ronnie Oldham Jr., Old Saybrook 2. Walt Hovey Jr., Chaplin 3. Al Stone III, New Haven 4. Brandon Plemons, Uncasville 5. Ed Puleo, Branford 6. Josh Galvin, Uncasville
7. Chuck Rogers, Waterford 8. Steve Barrett, Preston 9. John Puglisi, Orange 10. Jack Aquilina, Oakdale 11. Ed Lamb, New Haven 12. Jonathon Avery, Waterford 13. Greg Moran Jr., Preston
14. Ted Dupre, Westbrook 15. Kevin Talbot, Moosup 16. Chris Meyer, N. Franklin 17. Kevin Burr, Waterford 18. Mark Cooper, Northford DNS – Nate Appell, Westbrook
Norwich Bulletin Mini Stocks (20-laps): 1. Chris Williams, Niantic 2. Glenn Colvin, Clinton
3. Danny Field, Deep River 4. Mark Panaroni, Ivoryton 5. Randy Churchill Jr., Niantic 6. Ken Cassidy Jr., Lisbon 7. Bill Leonard, Wood River Jct, RI 8. Louis Bellisle III, Lisbon 9. Kyle James, Ashaway, RI
10. Greg Moran, Sr., Preston 11. Ian Brew, Wood River Jct., RI 12. Chris Correll, Old Lyme 13. Phil Evans, Uncasville 14. Sean Caron, Hartford 15. Nick Pappacoda, N. Branford, CT 16. Eric Bourgeois, E. Haddam 17. Ken Lyke Jr., Orange 18. Christina Cunliffe, Stratford 19. Charles Canfield, New Haven 20. Dave Sylvia, Groton DNS – Jeff Mehlenbacher, Groton
Legends-Saturday (20-laps): 1. Jay Palmer, Berlin 2. Shaun Buffington, Plainfield 3. Joey Cipriano, Waterbury 4. Dennis Pantani, Branford 5. Max Zachem, Preston 6. Mark Bakaj, Lebanon 7. Tony Flannery, E. Hampton 8. Ryan Morgan, Mystic 9. Mark Esposito, Easton 10. Carl Blandina, Milford 11. Giovanni Giarratana, Newington 12. Richard White III, N. Stonington 13. Adam Gada, Bozrah 14. Paul Kusheba IV, Monroe 15. William Munro, N. Branford 16. Dylan Liseo, E. Hartford 17. David Stanton, New Britain 18. Carl Bohn, Waterford 19. Edward Field, Deep River 20. Art Moran Jr., Preston DNS – Michael Blaskey, Bethany