WATERFORD, Conn. – Waterford Speedbowl hosted the final Saturday night racing program of the season before its big Finale Weekend of racing, putting seven race divisions in action on a seasonable late September evening.
While seven drivers captured wins on the night, four more champions were unofficially crowned in the season long war. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing, Keith Rocco of Meriden unofficially captured his third track championship in the headline SK Modified division following his ninth win of the year.
Rocco also won his fourth straight Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division feature to inch him closer to a 53-year old record. Uncasville’s Phil Evans outdueled the competition for an entertaining victory in the nights Street Stock race while Salem’s Corey Hutchings clinched the division championship.
Ken Cassidy Jr. of Lisbon claimed his fifth Mini Stock championship in convincing fashion with his third straight victory. In INEX racing, Dylan Izzo of Monroe won both the race and the divisions Saturday night series championship. Brad Voglesong of Middletown won the X-Car race and Dave Yardley of Berlin won the Super X-Car feature.
The 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature had a hard time getting started smoothly with multiple caution flags plaguing the opening six laps. Two attempts to begin the race went awry before the field could get to turn one, the second involving multiple cars and knocking Ted Christopher and Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. out of the race.
Diego Monahan took the lead from pole-sitter Tyler Chadwick when racing finally got underway. Rocco started in fourth position and quickly was in contention, moving up to second behind Monahan by lap two when Rob Janovic Jr. spun in turn one to trigger another yellow flag after the field scattered around his spinning car.
Rocco powered into the lead over Monahan after two false starts by the front row trying to restart the race on lap two. After a Jeff Gallup spin on lap six, another great restart over Monahan enabled Rocco to drive away from the field. Kyle James moved to second place on lap 11 around Mohanan and when Tom Abele Jr. tried to follow, Monahan shut the door and the two came together. Monahan collected his car and held the spot but lost ground to James, who began a pursuit of Roccos lead which already had grown to several car lengths.
Behind Rocco and James, the best battle was for third as four cars ran together. Abele continued to pester Monahan while Craig Lutz had caught the pair looking to improve his position as the race approached halfway. Abele went to the outside lane in his quest to get by Monahan, working hard as Monahan tried to hold him off.
Finally on lap-21 Abele had the spot after several laps trying. Lutz struck quickly on Monahan to pick up fourth position, dropping Monahan to fifth a lap later. James couldn’t reel in Rocco, but the lead evaporated when Jim Larsen Jr. spun in turn four just ahead of Rocco, returning the race to caution with seven laps remaining.
A good restart allowed Rocco to easily resume his lead over James, who settled back into second over Abele. Rocco quickly extinguished any hopes James may have had to spoil his championship-clinching run, pulling away. Rocco went on to score the win unchallenged with James second and Abele third. Lutz finished fourth and Janovic rebounded from his spin to take fifth.
Rocco’s title in the SK Modifieds gives him three for his career, joining back-to-back championship seasons in 2010 and 2011. Coupled with the Late Model championship he clinched last Saturday, Rocco becomes the only driver in Speedbowl history to win both crowns in the same season.