For the number of times Keith Rocco has visited Victory Lane in his SK Modified since 2007, it’s hard to believe there is anything he hasn’t accomplished. Rocco scratched that one last feat off the list this past weekend, though, when he swept the feature races at all three NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks in Connecticut.
The Wallingford, Conn., driver upped his win total to 13 for the season and surged past Lee Pulliam and Philip Morris to reclaim the top spot with just over two months remaining in the season.
“We’ve been waiting three years to have a weekend like that,” said Rocco, who has 66 wins over the last five years and has won at two of the tracks in one day but never all three in the same race weekend.
The defending national champion has 657 points, while Pulliam has 627 and Morris 601.
Pulliam, from Semora, N.C., picked up his 11th Late Model Division win of the season and first at South Boston (Va.) Speedway on Friday night. His first 10 wins came at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. He had been second to Morris in his last three appearances at South Boston.
Morris, from Ruckersville, Va., also has 11 wins. The three-time national champion dropped from the top spot after finishing 21st at South Boston.
While Pulliam and Morris were battling it out in Virginia, Rocco was cleaning up in Connecticut.
He pointed out that his “win streak” actually started with a victory in a charity go-kart race at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on Tuesday, where Rocco and his girlfriend, Cassie Ceravolo, helped raise more than $4,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
With points on the line Thursday, Rocco didn’t slow down. He won the Sunoco Modified Division feature at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway. The next day at Stafford, he won the SK Modified Division race. He completed the trifecta in the 100-lap SK Modified Division race at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl on Saturday.
While it didn’t count toward his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points total, Rocco also hopped in a Late Model and won in the Division II race at Stafford Friday.
“Believe it or not, this is where we usually start to struggle, when the weather gets hot and the track changes,” Rocco said. “I’ve made plenty of notes from the last two years.
“We’ve been spot on the last few weeks.”
Rocco has 13 wins, 18 top fives and 22 top 10s. More importantly, his victories this past weekend at Stafford and Waterford each came with 20 or more cars, giving him six races on the season that produced maximum points of 45 for a race.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 18 are counted toward their state and national points totals, and the champions are decided on overall points total.
Morris has five races where he scored 45 points, while Pulliam has four.
Brandon Davis of Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) has six wins and 10 top fives in 11 starts. Three of his wins have been worth 45 points.
Pulliam has 11 wins, 15 top fives and 16 top 10s in 18 starts, while Morris has 11 wins, 14 top fives and 15 top 10s in 18 starts.
Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their total will go up incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better ones.
CE Falk III (Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., and South Boston) and Nate Monteith (New Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and Motor Mile) are fourth and fifth in the nation, respectively.
Lee Tissot (New Kingsport and Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway) is sixth, followed by Frank Deiny Jr. (South Boston, Motor Mile and Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.), Ryan Preece (Thompson, Stafford and Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway), Davis, and Daniel Pope III (New Kingsport and Motor Mile).
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.
Track, state and provincial champions and the top three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet.
National Top 500 NASCAR Points Leaders
Waterford, Stafford, Thompson
S Boston, Motor Mile
Motor Mile, S Boston
S Boston, Langley
Kingsport, Motor Mile
S Boston, Caraway, Motor Mile
Thompson, Stafford, Riverhead
Motor Mile, Kingsport
Caraway, Motor Mile
I-80, Junction, Adams
Thompson, Stafford, Waterford
S Boston, Motor Mile
S Boston, Tri-County, Greenville
S Boston, Old Dominion, Caraway