Keith Rocco crowned Modified Track Champion back-to-back years; Jeff Smith, Ed Puleo, Glenn Colvin and Paul French also recognized as NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champions; Dana Dimatteo, Taylor Martin, Frank Alessio and Pat Williams other Saturday division champs
Waterford, CT — Over 500 guests gathered at Groton Inn & Suites Saturday evening to celebrate Waterford Speedbowl’s 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and other Saturday race series track champions. Keith Rocco added a second Speedbowl SK Modified® championship to his growing resume, collecting his championship hardware. Jeff Smith and Ed Puleo were first time champions at the Speedbowl, while Glenn Colvin and Paul French each picked up their second championships to round out the champions in the Speedbowl’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. Dana Dimatteo led the Speedbowl’s other Saturday division titlists which also included Taylor Martin, Frank Alessio and Patrick Williams.
A total of 70 teams and drivers were recognized for their accomplishments during 2011. Special awards for the Top Rookie Driver, Sportsman of the Year, Most Improved Driver and Pit Crew of the Year were named in the SK Modifieds®, Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Street Stocks, Mini Stocks, SK Light Modifieds and Legends Cars.
Rocco, of Meriden (CT), set a Speedbowl division record with 13 wins out of 23 starts to claim his second straight SK Modified® title. He improved upon a 10-win season in 2010. He started 2011 off with a win in the season opening event, showing no signs of letting up his pace from the previous year. Mike and Mark Pane were recognized as the SK Modified® championship car owners, their second in a row with Rocco at the wheel. Rocco, who began his racing career at Speedbowl, also won the track’s 2004 Street Stock division championship.
Smith captured his first career Speedbowl title in winning the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division. The Old Lyme (CT) resident used consistency to vault him to the championship, picking up three victories on the year. Smith’s worst finish on the year was an eighth place, and he finished every event. Smith plans to return to the Late Model division again in 2012.
Puleo, of Branford (CT), was the Street Stock division champion in a battle that went down to the wire with two-time division winner Al Stone. Puleo prevailed and used six wins to buoy his championship efforts. Like Smith, Puleo also finished every event with a worst finish of just sixth position on the year. The title was a first at the Speedbowl for Puleo, a long-time ‘Bowl enthusiast who began his racing career at the track during the mid-1990’s. The champion announced plans to compete in the SK Modified® division in 2012.
Clinton (CT) racer Glenn Colvin returned to the stage to accept the Mini Stock top honors for the second time in Speedbowl history. He last won the division title in 2004, however returned for a full season of competition with championship aspirations in 2011. Colvin, like the other champions, was also a model of consistency. He was the only in the class to finish every event in the top-ten, taking three victories along the way to his title.
Paul French of Andover (CT) became the first SK Light Modified champion at the track. The division ran an abbreviated 2011 schedule, transitioning from the former Wednesday night X-Modified series. French was the steadiest of competitors, winning four of seven races.
The Saturday Legends Cars were won by Dana Dimatteo of Farmington (CT). He won five times during the Saturday series for the class, adding the title to the track’s Wild ‘n Wack y Wednesday division championship in 2011. He became the third consecutive driver to sweep the division across Wednesday and Saturday in the same season and is one of the top upcoming young drivers at the track.
New in 2011 were Saturday series for the Bandolero youth racing division, as well as Super X-Car and X-Car divisions. Mini “showdown” series showcased the Wednesday mainstay divisions under the Saturday night lights. Claiming those titles were fifteen-year old Taylor Martin (Windham, NH) in the Bandoleros, Patrick Williams (Middletown, CT) in the X-Cars, and Frank Alessio (Colchester, CT) in the Super X-Cars. Alessio won both the Saturday and Wednesday titles in his division.
Picking up hardware for Top Rookies were Randy Churchill Jr. (SK Modifieds®), who also won NASCAR’s 2011 Connecticut State Rookie of the Year, Anthony Flannery (Late Models), Mike Caprio (Street Stocks), Garrett Denton (Mini Stocks) and Chris Correll (SK Light Modifieds). For the Legends, Rookie of the Year honors went to Martin, who competed in her first season in the Legends Cars.
Sportsman of the Year Award winners included Tom Abele Jr. (SK Modifieds®), Rich Duranti (Late Models), Steve Barrett (Street Stocks), Charles Canfield (Mini Stocks), Paul French (SK Light Modifieds) and Paul Kusheba (Legends Cars).
Taking home the Most Improved Driver honors were Kyle James (SK Modifieds®), Joe Curioso (Late Models), Chris Meyer (Street Stocks), Jeffrey Cembruch (Mini Stocks), Corey Larson (SK Light Modifieds) and Troy Talman (Legends Cars).
Pit Crew of the Year went to the teams of Tyler Chadwick (SK Modifieds®), Smith (Late Models), Puleo (Street Stocks), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stocks), Correll (SK Light Modifieds) and Dimatteo (Legends Cars).
The 2012 schedule was also revealed to the attendees and will be available soon at Speedbowl.com, or by contacting the track office.
Sources: Brian Darling/Waterford Speedbowl PR