THOMPSON, Conn. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Adam Glanzman/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
It was a classic battle Sunday in the Sunoco Modified 30 lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series IceBreaker feature at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Just as they did at New London-Waterford Speedbowl many times last season, Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher battled for the checkered flag in the final laps.
In the end, it was Rocco who hoisted the trophy following a GWC finish. “It’s like we were at the Waterford Speedbowl last year, it’s either me or him that’s going to win,” Rocco said. “We got the band back together and put it right into victory lane.”
It was the first race back with Mark Pane and the No. 57 for Rocco after running the 2015 season at Thompson with Todd Cerevalo Racing and car No. 16.
Rocco and Ryan Preece brought the 30 lap Sunoco Modified feature under the first green flag of the season, with Rocco jumping out to the lead off turn two. Preece settled for second while Ted Christopher looked underneath off turn two on lap two, but it wasn’t long before the first caution flag flew. John Catania looped his No. 52 off turn four on lap two and just after the field doubled up and restarted, Jay Sundeen spun on the frontstretch drawing the second yellow.
The field went green for just one lap before the third caution, when Woody Pitkat spun at the top of turn one and collected multiple other drivers. Pitkat, the defending champion in the division, was able to continue at the tail end of the field with a damaged ride at first, but eventually was sidelined. During the yellow, Preece elected to give up second spot to come to pit road for an adjustment to his No. 31.
At the lap three green flag, Rocco took the lead off turn two from the bottom while Pennink and Christopher went side-by-side for second. The field put three laps down under green before Sundeen went for another spin in turn one. Rocco went back to the point at green and jumped out front over Christopher for a long green flag run. The two veterans pulled away from the field by half the distance of the frontstretch. A three-car accident off turn four at lap 19 closed the field up for the final stretch.
With just two laps to go, Pennink spun down the backstretch and set up a green-white-checkered finish with Rocco and Christopher on the front row. A quick caution for a spin off turn four slowed the first attempt at the GWC, but the second time was a classic battle. Rocco and Christopher battled hard for the lead in the final two laps, with Christopher even edging out front from the bottom at one point.
However, when the checkered flag came down, Rocco put his No. 57 in victory lane.
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is an aspiring Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Souza is Race Chaser Online’s New England motorsports insider, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at the Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday night public address announcer and press writer, and is also the Media Director for both the Granite State Pro Stock Series and the Tri Track Open Modified Series.
Email Kyle at: [email protected]
Follow on Twitter: @Kouza34
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