Rocco Chases Perfection In Connecticut
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
Leader Increases Total To 16 Wins

If the old adage is “you have to lose one before you can win one,” Keith Rocco is long overdue for a championship.

The 25-year-old Wallingford, Conn., driver has finished in the top five in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points standings in each of the last three years — second (2009), fourth (2008), and fourth (2007). In time, Rocco has spent significant portions of the season atop the points standings, only to watch somebody else walk off the stage at the awards banquet with the big trophy.

Rocco is determined not to let that happen this year.

He won Friday night at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, and then again Saturday night at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl. It gives him 16 wins in 28 starts and further cemented his hold on first place with 786 points.

“We ain’t taking our foot off the pedal until Sept. 19,” said Rocco of the deadline for races to count toward the national championship, as well as U.S. state and Canadian province titles. “There isn’t any slowing down. No cutting the week short in the shop. We’re just making sure we’re well maintained and staying on top of our game.

“As much as races are won on the track, they’re won in the shop, too.”

Craig Preble, of Yutan, Neb., remains second in points with 692, racing his dirt crate Late Model at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., on Saturday and at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., on Sunday. Preble has 12 wins and 19 top fives in 19 starts.

Justin Johnson of Durham, N.C., is third with 605 points. He has nine wins, 13 top fives and 16 top 10s in 16 starts in the asphalt Late Model divisions at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Radford, Va.

Bill Leighton Jr. (584 points) and Matt Buller (557), who race against Preble at the two Nebraska tracks, are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the national standings.

Rocco was the only driver in the top five to race this past weekend.

A driver’s best 18 results are counted toward their state and national points totals, and the champions are decided on overall points total.

Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner received two points for every car in the event up to 20. Second place received two fewer points, and so-on through the field. Race winners received an additional five bonus points. For example, if there are 20 cars, the winner received 45 points, second gets 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner received 35 points, second gets 28 and third, 26.

Thirteen of Rocco’s 16 wins have come with a maximum 20-car field, leaving him just 24 points shy of a perfect score of 810.

The last drivers to record a similar season under the NASCAR championship format were the late Larry Phillips and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle in 1995. Phillips and Biffle achieved the maximum points under the system at the time; Phillips won the crown by virtue of more overall wins (32-27).
Rocco has 16 wins, 23 top fives and 27 top 10s in 28 starts. He began this past weekend with his worst finish of the season, a 17th at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, before bouncing back with victories in the asphalt Modified divisions at the other two Connecticut NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks.

Rocco realizes that his racing calendar is a bit of old school scheduling.

Only 13 other drivers have run more races this season than Rocco has won.

For Rocco, it’s the way his father raced in the late 1980s, and it’s what he’s grown up around. Racing three nights a week is the norm for him, and he wears it as a badge of honor.

“To be one of the few that does that, it does feel like I’m a bit of a throwback,” said Rocco.

The biggest reward for the long hours in the shop and the dominance on the race track, though, would come in the form of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship trophy he’s been chasing.

Track, state and provincial champions and the top three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet. The winner of the national championship will also earn a secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

       National Top 500 NASCAR Points Leaders

       Pos     Driver  Track   Starts  Wins    T-5     T-10    Points

       1       Keith Rocco     Waterford Speedbowl     28      16      23      27      786
       2       Craig Preble    I-80 Speedway   19      12      19      19      692
       3       Justin T Johnson        South Boston Speedway   17      9       13      16      605
       4       Bill Leighton, Jr       I-80 Speedway   20      0       16      19      584
       5       Matt Buller     I-80 Speedway   19      3       14      17      557
       6       Ted Christopher Thompson Intl Speedway  17      5       12      14      545
       7       C E Falk, III   Langley Speedway        16      5       10      14      499
       8       Marty Ward      Greenville-Pickens Speedway     16      9       16      16      495
       9       Duane Howard    Grandview Speedway      13      2       12      13      482
       10      Woody Pitkat    Stafford Motor Speedway 17      1       8       15      463
       11      Toby Porter     Greenville-Pickens Speedway     16      5       14      15      455
       12      Philip Morris   Motor Mile Speedway     13      4       10      11      432
       13      Woody Howard    Langley Speedway        14      1       11      12      425
       14      Burt Myers      Bowman Gray Stadium     12      4       7       11      402
       15      Tommy Lemons, Jr        Motor Mile Speedway     16      1       4       10      391
       16      Adam Royle      Raceway Park    20      7       17      19      389
       17      Lee Jeffreys    Bowman Gray Stadium     12      2       7       11      386
       18      Ron Yuhas, Jr   Waterford Speedbowl     11      0       10      11      380
       19      Jeremy Burns    Greenville-Pickens Speedway     18      0       12      17      376
       20      Craig Von Dohren        Grandview Speedway      12      6       8       9       374
       21      Greg Edwards    Langley Speedway        11      2       10      11      368
       22      Travis Swaim    Caraway Speedway        13      4       11      13      350
       23      Micah Veleba    Junction Motor Speedway 19      0       3       11      346
       24      Ron Sheridan    Delaware Speedway       9       4       8       9       344
       25      Jeff Strunk     Grandview Speedway      13      0       7       10      340

Keith Rocco keeps winning and winning and winning some more.  (Top - Rick Ibsen Photo,  Bottom - Jim Dupont Photo)