Keith Rocco
Keith Rocco was the victory in the Sunoco Modified class on Saturday at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. (Tom Morris Photo)

Rocco & Santos Among Icebreaker Undercard Victors

THOMPSON, Conn. – Keith Rocco came out on top of a barnburner to win the Sunoco Modified season opener at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as part of the undercard during the day portion of the annual Icebreaker.

Rocco started fourth in the 30-lap main event and took the lead from Troy Talman on a lap-nine restart after Christian Turissi’s spin.

Mike Christopher moved into the runner-up spot following the second caution on lap 13. Rocco and Christopher pulled away from the field nose-to-tail for several laps, but with seven to go, the real battle began. Christopher dove inside Rocco entering turn 3, the first of what would be six passes in as many laps. Rocco, however, kept putting his Modified out front at the start/finish line where it counted.

As the duo got the two-to-go signal, Christopher finally had the lead by a nose at the line and cleared Rocco entered turn one. Rocco went back underneath him in the third turn, and the two banged nerf bars. Christopher slid up the track, allowing Rocco to get away for another victory in his dominating Thompson Speedway career.

Talman and Todd Owen also got past Christopher thanks to the late contact, finishing second and third in the final rundown. Christopher had to settle for fourth. Danny Cates, Jonathan Puleo, John Lowinski-Loh, Richard Williams, Jason Sundeen, and Paul LaPlante completed the top-10.

Bobby Santos III kicked off his Icebreaker weekend with a victory in the 25-lap NEMA Lites Midget feature. Santos started seventh in the Matt and Bob Seymour-owned No. 1, and after a slow start, began him march to the front. He inherited the second spot on lap 13 when Dan Cugini’s Midget shut down, then caught leader Jim Santa Maria with eight laps to go.

One lap later, Santos drove beneath Santa Maria on the front stretch and cleared him entering turn one. It was no contest from there as Santos sailed to the victory.

Santa Maria came in second followed by Jake Trainor. Kyle Valeri, Richie Coy, Paul Scally, Christopher Vose, Tiana Kibbe, Matt Seavy, and Cugini finched fourth through 10th.

Paul Newcomb ended a frenetic two days on a high note by winning the 25-lap Street Stock Open feature. Newcomb started fourth and found an opening early, muscling beneath polesitter Ryan Waterman in turn four to take the lead after two laps.

Jimmy Renfrew Jr. was the only driver who could even come close to hanging with Newcomb on the ensuing green-flag run. Renfrew got a shot on a restart with eight laps to go after Zachary Mead’s spin. But the No. 00 got loose exiting turn four the following lap. Renfrew eventually slid back to fourth as Newcomb marched to the victory.

Waterman finished second with Kyle Gero third. Joe Kohler, Wayne Coury, Bobby Segar Jr., Devin McConologue, Justin Travis, and Nick Hovey also earned top-10 finishes.

Gerard Giordano Jr. won a photo finish over Ryan Vanasse in the 35-lap EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge feature. Vanasse had pulled away in the middle stages of the event, but Giordano had the better long-run truck and ran him down with seven laps to go. The fourth and final caution came out soon after, setting up a four-lap dash to the finish.

Vanasse initially cleared Giordano on the restart. With two laps to go, though, Giordano ducked back inside. Entered turn for the final time, the duo touched and got sideways. After gathering it up, they banged doors again coming to the line. It was Giordano, the former series champion, edging Vanasse by .015 seconds for the win.

Emma Monahan had a strong run for third. Duane Noll, Connor Souza, Joe Arena, Andy Lindeman, Todd Taylor, Joseph Coates, and Randy Coates opened their season with top-10 finishes.

Jared Roy continued his domination of the Thompson Mini Stocks with a victory in their 15-lap feature. Roy came from seventh on the starting grid to run down Steven Michalski at the halfway mark. After ducking inside Michalski as the leaders completed lap nine, Roy completed the pass entering turn one a circuit later.

Coming out of turn four the next time around, Michalski broke loose and spun to bring out the race’s only caution. Roy had a rear-view mirror full of Thomas Silva during the final four laps, but held on for the victory. Dave Trudeau, Douglas Curry, and Charles Canfield completed the top-five.