Rocco Back On Top At Waterford
WATERFORD, Conn. – Waterford Speedbowl was back in action Saturday with a six division race program at the popular shoreline oval.
Picking up NASCAR Whelen All-American Series wins included Keith Rocco, winner of his seventh SK Modified race of the year after an exciting photo finish and Jason Palmer, winning his first Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature of the season.
Corey Hutchings won the Street Stock feature and took over the division point lead while Ian Brew won another race in the Mini Stock division. Giovanni Giarratana won the nights INEX Legend Cars race and Duane Noll took the checkered flag in the visiting New England Truck Series.
Rocco rallied past defending track champion Tyler Chadwick out of the final corner in a thrilling three-lap showdown between the two following the final restart of the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified race. The race began with Chadwick on the pin, leading the way at the drop of the green flag. He jumped ahead of Frank Mucciacciaro, who settled into second with Rob Janovic Jr. moving to third.
Craig Lutz was the driver on the move early as he picked his way past the outside of Jeff Gallup to move into fourth in the opening laps. He continued his forward progress staying on the top of the track, getting to the outside of Janovic for third on lap six and taking the position a lap later. On lap eight Lutz had put himself on Mucciacciaros rear bumper for second as Chadwick had pulled ahead.
Behind Lutz, Rocco was back in traffic battling at the back half of the top ten with Todd Ceravolo. Lutz finally found room outside of Mucciacciaro to take over second position as the race stayed under the green flag through lap 13. The racing was brought to a halt when Ed Puleo got out of shape in turn three, gathering his car however as the pack behind checked up, Nichole Morgillo got bounced into the turn three wall to bring out the first caution flag. Morgillo was unable to return.
The restart had Chadwick matched with Lutz on the front row. Chadwick was able to get the lead with a solid restart however Lutz was not about to let him pull ahead as easily as he had earlier. The two opened up a little breathing room over the fight for third position and Lutz went to work. He tried to find room to Chadwicks outside on several occasions to no avail.
Meanwhile, Rocco benefitted by the restart and used the inside lane to pull inside the top-five. He got past the inside of Janovic on lap-22 to move fourth. He was in third on lap-25 with a gap to close on the lead two which remained as Chadwick holding back the advances of Lutz.
With Rocco rapidly closing Chadwick was able to take a one car length lead over Lutz, who was in jeopardy of losing second to a streaking Rocco. Rocco went to the outside lane, finding room outside of Lutz on lap 30. On lap 31 Rocco used a surge out of turn two to pull even, then used a run out of turn four to overtake Lutz for second position. With just four laps to catch and pass Chadwick, Rocco was aided by another caution flag, the final of the race, on lap 32 when Kyle James spun in turn four, setting up the pivotal restart.
Chadwick got a good restart to hold the top spot with Rocco staying glued to his outside. Chadwick defended Roccos outside bid to lead lap 33 and kept him there as they raced towards the final lap. As the two came off the fourth corner to the white flag, Rocco tucked in behind and gave Chadwicks rear bumper a nudge as the cars entered turn one. That gave Rocco the opportunity to dive inside Chadwick in turn two.
The two ran side-by-side over the final half-lap to the checkered flag. Rocco, on the inside, was able to just beat Chadwick by a bumper to the finish line in a photo-finish. The margin of victory for Rocco was just .001 seconds in one of the closest finishes ever for the division. Chadwick was forced to settle for second after leading the first 34 laps of the race. Lutz finished third after running with the leaders and pressuring Chadwick for the lead over much of the second half. Janovic finished fourth and Mucciacciaro was fifth.