NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Points
Update: Rocco 'Finally' Gets Back To Victory Lane
Connecticut Driver Takes 17th Victory of 2010 Season

Can you consider four weeks a ‘slump?’

When you’re having the season Keith Rocco’s been having, you can. The 25-year-old from Wallingford, Conn., has held a commanding lead in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points standings the entire season. But in recent weeks, Nebraska’s Craig Preble has cut the gap considerably as Rocco has come up short of Victory Lane.

That ended Saturday night, as Rocco drove to his 17th win of the season in the SK Modified Division at the Waterford Speedbowl, a .333-mile asphalt oval. It’s one of three Connecticut tracks – along with Thompson International Speedway on Thursdays and Stafford Motor Speedway on Fridays – that Rocco has run at on a regular basis this season.

For Rocco, who has won multiple races in the same weekend four times this season and even won twice at two different tracks in the same day, to go so long without a win was difficult to digest.

“It was to the point, we were just struggling and it was a little bit of bad luck,” Rocco said. “It was getting to a point where I was wondering if I was going to win again. It was just getting frustrating.”

He has 17 wins, 27 top fives and 34 top 10s between the three tracks for 795 points.

Rocco has not raced at Thompson since July 15 because of a dispute with track officials. He finished third in the 150-lap extra-distance event at Stafford on Friday, but broke through for win No. 17 Saturday in impressive style. He made a three-wide pass for the lead on the race’s final restart to go from third to first en route to taking the checkered flag.

“They threw the green and the leaders were side by side. I just dove it inside into Turn 1 and took the lead,” Rocco said. “Realistically the whole race we had a second-place car, not a car good enough to win, how we pulled that off, I’m still not sure.”

Preble has 17 wins and 27 top fives to go with 27 top 10s in 28 starts for 757 points. He races in the crate dirt Late Model division on Saturdays at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., and at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., on Sundays.

A driver’s best 18 results through Sunday, Sept. 19 are counted toward their state and national points totals, and the champions are decided on overall points total.

Justin Johnson, of Durham, N.C., was disqualified following his third-place run in the asphalt Late Model feature at South Boston (Va.) Speedway Saturday night. He remains third in the national standings with 701 points on the strength of 11 wins, 16 top fives and 19 top 10s in 20 starts at South Boston and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.

Ted Christopher won for the fifth time in the last seven races at Thompson and moved to fourth in the standings with 655 points. Matt Buller, who races against Preble at Junction and I-80, is fifth with 639 points.

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.

Of Rocco’s wins, 15 of them have produced the maximum points total of 45 for a race. His three worst finishes of the 18 that count toward his total are a win at Thompson on April 10 with 19 cars, a win at Thompson on May 27 with 17 cars, and a second at Thompson on April 11 with 19 cars.

That leaves Rocco 15 points short of a perfect score for the season of 810.

It also means that nothing short of a win can improve his total.

By contrast, 10 of Preble’s wins have produced the maximum 45 points. In addition, Preble is running out of time to make up ground. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season concludes at I-80 on Sept. 5 and at Junction a week later.

In addition to honoring track champions, NASCAR will crown 25 U.S. state and Canadian provincial champions, continuing a tradition that dates back to the sport’s early years.

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     36      17      27      34      795
       2       Craig Preble    I-80 Speedway   28      17      27      27      757
       3       Justin T Johnson        South Boston Speedway   20      11      16      19      701
       4       Ted Christopher Thompson Intl Speedway  24      7       15      18      655
       5       Matt Buller     Junction Motor Speedway 28      5       20      24      639
       6       C E Falk, III   Langley Speedway        21      6       13      19      634
       7       Bill Leighton, Jr       I-80 Speedway   29      0       23      27      630
       8       Marty Ward      Greenville-Pickens Speedway     20      12      20      20      580
       9       Woody Pitkat    Stafford Motor Speedway 22      2       13      20      578
       10      Woody Howard    Langley Speedway        19      1       13      17      571
       11      Greg Edwards    Langley Speedway        17      6       14      16      568
       12      Philip Morris   Motor Mile Speedway     18      5       12      15      567
       13      Duane Howard    Grandview Speedway      15      3       14      15      565
       14      Tommy Lemons, Jr        Motor Mile Speedway     22      1       10      16      543
       15      Toby Porter     Greenville-Pickens Speedway     20      5       18      19      523
       16      Jacob Brown     I-80 Speedway   22      1       8       16      513
       17      Wayne Ramsey    Motor Mile Speedway     14      4       11      13      508
       18      Brandon Dean    Motor Mile Speedway     17      1       10      14      507
       19      Burt Myers      Bowman Gray Stadium     15      5       9       14      505
       20      Ron Yuhas, Jr   Waterford Speedbowl     14      0       13      14      488
       21      Stacy Puryear   South Boston Speedway   18      1       11      15      485
       22      Steve Carlson   Lacrosse Fairgrounds Speedway   14      5       9       13      481
       23      Wes Falk        Langley Speedway        19      1       4       16      473
       24      J Herbst        Lacrosse Fairgrounds Speedway   14      2       8       14      470
       25      Danny Edwards, Jr       Langley Speedway        16      1       13      14      465

Keith Rocco (Rick Ibsen Photo)