September 2, 2012
Waterford, CT – Owner Frank Manafort suggested Keith Rocco, making his Northeastern Midget Association Lites debut with a still mending broken left wrist, “take it easy.”
Perhaps the top name in New England NASCAR Modified racing, Rocco “couldn’t resist” the urge to compete. Coming from 15th starting spot, Rocco won the Angelillo Memorial 25-lap Lites feature Saturday night at Waterford Speedowl.
He took the lead with an inside move on Christian Briggs going in to turn three at the halfway point. It was, however, on the outside where Rocco sparkled. “The top was the place to be,” he explained. “Every restart, I wanted to go to the top.”
The winning pass came four laps after the second restart. Sitting sixth, Rocco was part of a scramble heading into one. He passed four cars on the outside and emerged running second to Briggs. After a couple outside efforts, Rocco finally took the lead with the third turn dive.
Surviving three more restarts, Rocco went on to .373 second victory over Ian Cumens (Seymour 9) with Brandon Igo (Igo 45), Briggs (Briggs 44) and Bethany Stoehr (Stoehr 26) following, the latter three in a bunch. Rocco, “driving one handed,” welcomed the restarts. “I would get tired after seven or eight laps,” he said.
Oswego winner Cumens, who came from 12th, grabbed second on a restart with seven left and had the last real shot at Rocco although the final restart, with five laps remaining, was a single file deal. Cumens did, however, wind up with the fastest lap of the race, a 13.936.
It was a long ride for Bethany Stoehr as well. She came from the rear after spinning on lap two.
“I have been watching these things for a while and the opportunity finally came to drive one,” said Rocco. He pointed out a practice session Thursday at the Speedowl was limited to about six laps because of motor problems so Saturday’s warm up and heat were used getting familiar with the car.
Rocco plans to be in the FMR Racing car again. He will defiantly drive it at Waterford’s Finale in Ocober. Rocco capped off the weekend marrying Cassie Ceravolo on Sunday.