Rocco wins the NAPA Auto Parts Open Modified 100 at Stafford


Keith Rocco in victory lane at Stafford (Photo Courtesy of Stafford Motor Speedway)

STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn (WWLP) – Keith Rocco took down the win in the NAPA Auto Parts 100 Open Modified event on Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Mike Christopher, Jr. took the lead at the start of the race. The first caution of the event came out on lap 15 for a spin by Charlie Pasteryak in turn 4. The lights went out while under caution that caused a little bit of a delay.

Christopher, Jr. took the lead on the restart. A multi-car accident brought the caution back out on lap 19 involving Dave Etheridge, Brad Van Houten, Charlie Pasteryak, Calvin Carroll, and Anthony Flannery. Christopher, Jr. would lead on the restart as Rocco almost got the lead but Christopher, Jr was able to hold the lead. The caution returned on lap 20 for another multicar incident involving Jeff Gallup, Dylan Kopec, Joey Cipriano, and Calvin Carroll.

Mike Christopher, Jr. led on the restart. Anthony Nocella and Rocco would battle for second place. Nocella took second place from Rocco on lap 30. Rocco would spin to bring out the caution for a spin on lap 47. Most of the field of cars came down on pit road for tires during the caution. Eric Goodale stayed out and led on the next restart.

The caution would come back out twice during those restarts for a spin by Andrew Molleur and then Jeff Gallup spun on the second restart. Craig Lutz took the lead from Goodale on the third restart. Christopher, Jr worked his way back to fifth as he passed Anthony Flannery. 

Ron Silk took the lead at lap 50 as the caution return for a spin by Joey Cipriano. Silk took the lead on the restart as Lutz and Christopher, Jr would contend for the lead and try to pass Silk. Christopher, Jr. retook the lead from Silk on lap 59. Christopher, Jr. would be leading with 30 laps remaining as Silk was in second Lutz was in third. Matt Swanson was in fourth and Rocco rounded out the top five.

The caution returned on lap 72 for a spin by Dylan Kopec. Goodale came down pit road under caution and put on three new tires. Christopher, Jr. and Silk would battle for the lead on the restart and would be side by side. Christopher, Jr. got by Silk on lap 73. Matt Swanson would spin in turn 2 and collected Anthony Nocella as the caution would return with 21 laps remaining. Silk got around Christopher, Jr. for the race lead as Matt Galko would also contend for the lead and passed both cars for the lead in turn 3. Rocco got by Silk for second with 17 laps remaining in the event. Rocco took the lead from Galko with 13 laps remaining and hold on to win the NAPA Auto Parts Open Modified 100.

Rocco talked about the win to 22News. “It was awesome. We were losing hope there. The car was so good in the beginning and just started falling off really bad. We had a tire going down. We found out after we changed them. Great stop by my guys. Awesome calls for the race. Just a flawless day,” Rocco said.

Mike Christopher, Jr. finished in second. He talked about his race to 22News.

“It was great all day in the heat and practice and great at the beginning half of the feature. At the end, it just got way too tight. They haven’t looked at it yet but it felt like the stagger closed up. We had the best car all day. Tommy (Baldwin) does an amazing job at building a good piece,” Christopher, Jr. said.

Matt Galko finished in third. He talked about his race to 22News.

“We had an interesting pit strategy. I had a bad left front early in the race. When we finally got the chance to come down pit road, we opted to change left side tires. Put our old left rear on the left front to take care of that bad left rear so then it kind of put us in a bind without right side tires. We were able to hang on to the top five for a while. Fell off and luckily we got a caution late and we were able to put right sides on and obviously with fresher tires, we were able to come through the field. It’s a little disappointing to put ourselves in a position to win that late in the race and not seal the deal. The car was just off a little bit,” Galko said.

Ron Silk finished in fourth. He talked about his race to 22News.

“Started 17th got up through the field. Had a good car. Just ended up that the longer we went there towards the end, I started getting tight.  I was tight the whole day. It got real tight at the end of the race. The last time we were here. We had to go through the consi and then got DQed for using the wrong tires in the consi. Obviously a much better outcome this time and hopefully we can build off from what we learned tonight be that little bit better next time,” Silk said.

Eric Goodale finished in fifth. He talked about his race to 22News.

“We had a different pit strategy I think then everyone else. I think maybe me and one other car were the only ones to wait to put our tires on. Just too much stuff to get through to get back to the front. We needed another caution inside 10 to go to have a shot. Proud of my guys. We didn’t have to race anyone off of pit road. We worked on the car all day. We were fast in practice. Just struggled in our heat and we did everything we needed to do in the race and the last 30-40 laps didn’t go our way,” Goodale said.

Jeff Gallup out of Feeding Hills finished in 10th and Dylan Kopec from Palmer finished in 12th.

The next open modified event at Stafford will be the Lincoln Tech 80 on Friday night, August 21. Stafford Motor Speedway will be back in action this upcoming Friday night.  

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